By: Romel B. Costales, Education Program Supervisor (Region 2)
A multigrade classroom, wherein learners of various ages and grade levels are combined especially in geographically challenged areas and where enrollment rates are low, is not exactly the ideal nor familiar set-up of learning and teaching among many.
But for 40-year-old Reycel R. Jugo, multigrade teaching is not only the greatest challenge in her career as a teacher; it is also her most fulfilling and significant accomplishment.
In 2011, Teacher Reycel started as a multigrade teacher in a far-flung area in the municipality of Tanay, Rizal. As a novice educator handling multi-level pupils combined in one class, she had to cope with the daunting challenges of teaching in a diverse classroom, and nurturing learners of different ages, behavior, and learning abilities.
But Teacher Reycel did her homework and so much more. She read a lot of books for her to understand how multigrade teaching works. After voluminous readings and consultations with other teachers who handled multigrade classes, she was able to fine-tune her teaching styles. As she immersed herself in the community where transportation is not favorable, she became even more determined to master her craft so she can make a difference in the lives of her learners.
“Being a multigrade teacher is like having special powers,” Teacher Reycel shared. “You target several competencies in one execution.”
Because of her hard work and dedication, Teacher Reycel has been recommended for a scholarship program intended for multigrade teachers at the University of the Philippines Diliman where she acquired various pedagogical approaches and strategies. After this scholarship, she was transferred to a monograde school, but her heart remained in multigrade, so she opted to be reassigned in Aguho Elementary School in Tanay.
She became a national curriculum writer and teaching-learning materials designer for monograde, multigrade, and Indigenous People’s Education program (IPEd) which she juggles between teaching, facilitating, planning, evaluating, researching, networking with the community and other stakeholders, and even training 43 multigrade and IPEd teachers in Rizal.
Among her innovations are research-based localization and contextualization of educational materials which integrate government thrusts such as climate change, financial literacy, culture and the arts, and conservation of natural resources. Her Self-Learning Kit in Science was published by Prudence Foundation under Plan International, and is widely used in their province.
Being a full-time classroom teacher with several ancillary tasks, she still devotes time to integrate the latest technology in her multigrade classroom despite the remoteness of their school which relies on solar panels.
Indeed, Teacher Reycel is an exemplary educator who wears so many hats, wielding knowledge and skills with her big heart at the forefront of her battle against illiteracy. She is a fixed presence in demonstration teachings in the national, regional, division, and district levels, and is known for her knowledge-oriented yet compassionate approach.
Teacher Reycel reaped numerous distinctions with barely seven years in service. The year 2017 proved to be the peak of her success when she was recognized as the Most Outstanding Multigrade Teacher, the Gurunasyon Outstanding Elementary School Teacher in the Province of Rizal, and the Gawad Kampilan Most Outstanding Teacher (Elementary Level). She also received the Gawad Pagkilala in Edukasyong Multigrade, and won as a finalist in the Regional Search for Gawad Patnugot Most Outstanding Elementary Teacher in DepEd Region IV-A. This year, she was also a regional awardee in the 2018 Civil Service Commission (CSC) Pag-Asa Award Category.
“Teaching, for me, is a blessing because I can help so many souls who hunger for knowledge and wisdom. It is an amazing and rewarding feeling to see my pupils learn and improve. It is priceless – knowing that I’ve made a positive difference in their lives,” she enthused.
Teacher Reycel strongly believes that a public school teacher can transform a whole nation by focusing more on what the Filipino learners can achieve, and less on issues that hound the public education system.