“It’s healthy for children to grow in an environment where adults are holding each other and making things possible,” says Kate Estember, Tuburan’s College of Teachers Head. Tuburan’s journey to define and create a “community” in the truest sense of the word has not been easy. “How do we work together really?” has been the perennial question. There have been many ideas. Different ways of relating and communicating have been tried. Today, parents’ roles in support of the school – in their homes and in school – are becoming clearer. The school is also striving to provide parents ways to be involved and be listened to.
“During school orientations for potential parents, we emphasize that ‘Tuburan is not a ready-made school where you can just pay school fees and drop off your children.’ We expect active parent participation at home – and in school the whole year long,” explains Joefel S. Carreon, Tuburan’s School Director for Administration.
“We tell parents that teachers can only do so much in the four hours that the children are in school. What happens at home in the remaining 20 hours is entirely under the control of the parents. We have to work together really,” says Juliefer M. Cecilio, the Kindergarten’s Head Nurturer.
Some parents understand this home-school partnership immediately and do something about it.
Real change happens when parents stop relying on teachers to “rehabilitate” their children but look at themselves and improve their own habits and lifestyles first.
What’s important is that Tuburan parents learn to say “no” to things that mainstream society finds “okay” and be supported by other families who do the same.
Like swapping television watching with outdoor games and practical hands-on creative activities and swapping eating processed prepackaged food with fruits and vegetables. These are easier said than done though when the people you’re living with – your neighbors, your relatives, your friends – think there’s nothing wrong with giving children fast food and letting them watch television.
A lot has been done already to become the community school that Tuburan aspires to be. “In Tuburan, teachers are parents and parents are teachers; the home is an extension of the community, and the community is an extension of the home. There’s a real striving now for everyone to be appreciated and feel supported,” tells Naize Abella who heads Tuburan’s Finance and Administration Committee.
“In Tuburan we learn together, work together, have fun together and co-carry each other. Co-carrying actually means supporting each other especially during challenging times,” says Yoko Matsuda from Tuburan’s Fundraising Committee.
This partnership is concretely expressed in school in parents’ involvement in Tuburan’s six committees where they spearhead the enrollment drive, the search for additional teachers, the parent education program, fundraising, the site development, the food preparation, the health break clean ups, and more.
Always to the rescue during challenging times since 2011 has been Tuburan’s Board of Trustees composed of the school’s parents and friends engaged in business, health, peace, law, and education. They are Tammy B. Dinopol, Madett V. Gardiola, Hannah S. Straver, Glocelito C. Jayma, and Eric Jeh Melencion – and formerly Monica Ayala and Editha O. Casiple too. They have been key in helping set Tuburan’s strategic framework and operational goals. When parents weren’t that active yet in the school’s operations, the Board met monthly to provide the needed support.
Sometime in 2014 Tuburan underwent a major transition. Because there was no Administrator, three parents took on this role on a part-time volunteer basis. They were Joefel S. Carreon, Naize D. Abella and Lorelie J. Tabay – and later also joined by Yoko Matsuda. Also known as the Tuburan parent-members of the “Roundtable,” they have been key in helping set the school’s vision and mission and providing much needed support in all areas of operations.
Since March 2016, leading and overseeing all school operations is not one School Director but three – also known as the “Weavers.” They represent Tuburan’s three spheres – the College of Teachers unit (Kate), the Administration and Finance unit (Joefel) and the Resource Mobilization unit (Maya). The Weavers meet weekly to discuss school matters and because they bring with them the perspectives of their specific spheres, decisions are well informed.
Bottomline: Tuburan isn’t an ordinary school. As a Steiner/Waldorf School, Tuburan strives to be essentially a community school. That is the great challenge. In our striving to be the community school that we aspire to be – can we be compassionate, forgiving, open and honest yet sensitive and understanding to avoid miscommunication? Can we keep the courage, the passion, the goodwill, the positivity despite the immense challenge of sustaining the school this year and in the years to come?