Edmundo Litton, age 52, was born in Manila, earned his undergraduate degree from De la Salle University in Manila, master’s degree at Georgetown University in Washington, DC and doctorate at University of San Francisco. He knows the value of a solid education and works diligently at Loyola Marymount University (LMU) in Los Angeles and its San Francisco campus to develop young teachers here and in the Philippines to help save Filipino youth from abject despair.
As a professor and chair of the Department of Urban Education, he has established an affiliation between LMU and Teach for the Philippines to have LMU students in the Study Abroad Program within the Graduate School of Education assist public school teachers in the Philippines for one month. Of the 11 graduate students who went abroad in July 2015, most were teachers employed by Teach for America and three were Filipino. Teach for America has 8,582 teachers working throughout the U.S. and is one of the organizations within the Teach for All Network, which includes Teach for the Philippines.
College graduates with Philippines citizenship in and outside of the Philippines can go beyond a one-month visit through LMU and serve two years as a Teacher Fellow in Teach for the Philippines. Most of the 23 public schools served by Teach for the Philippines are located in urban areas like Quezon City, but some are in rural areas of Mindanao and Siargao.
Dr. Litton is impressed by the four cohorts of teachers he has mentored since Teach for the Philippines started in 2012. He said, “These are people who are very organized and self-motivated and want to make a difference in the system. They see education as the big equalizer in society. Education is the way out of poverty.”
Teach for the Philippines emphasizes leadership above teacher training. “Teacher Fellows develop leadership skills by teaching and experience.” Of the qualifications, he admitted some flexibility. “Some teachers have degrees in Education but not all. You have to have a bachelor’s degree and not necessarily a recent one.”
Danna Dela Cruz of Quezon City was a teacher-fellow from 2013 to 2014 at Malaban Elementary School in Biñan, Laguna. From her experience teaching 34 third graders, Danna recalled, “Some days are frustrating, when the kids are behaving badly, when parents are neglecting their duties as parents, when we’re just so tired from everything.
“[Teaching] is the hardest thing I got into so far in my life, and might just be the most rewarding yet.” Asked why, Danna replied, “Because most days you’ll just find yourself smiling or even teary eyed because of the overwhelming progress that the students are making, be it in academics, their behavior, or a kid who was a non-reader who is now a reader.”
Danna, a native Filipino, had the advantage of speaking the local dialect. Dr. Litton is quick to inform American recruits that Teach for the Philippines hasn’t employed Fil-Ams since the first cohort in 2012 and 2013. “If you don’t speak Filipino, it’s very hard,” he cautioned. “It’s really for Fil-Ams who speak Filipino.”
To find out more about Teach for the Philippines or the Study Abroad Program at LMU, contact Dr. Litton at 310–338–1859 or EdmundoEdward.Litton@lmu.edu. The LMU program is actually a teacher exchange in need of donations to bring teachers from the Philippines to the United States to observe America’s education system in action.
Anthony Maddela works for the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles. He has two kids and a wife. Though he doesn’t own a house in LA, he has a flock of house finches at his feeder.
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