What makes a teacher? The New Age Parents spoke to principals and teachers from various schools and enrichment centres, to find out more about their philosophy, passion and aspiration.

Teacher Profile
Name: Rachel R. Villareal
Role/Class: Conduct classes for children 5 months – 5 years at www.gymnademics.com
Years in the industry: 9 years

Gymnademics Sparkanauts - Teacher Rachel

TNAP: Hi Rachel! Tell us more about yourself!

I have a BSc in Psychology and am a trained Child Life Specialist from John Hopkins Hospital. I have been working with young children and their families for the past 9 years.

At Gymnademics (now known as Sparkanauts), I play the role of the senior teacher, conducting classes for children between 5 months to 5 years old, and sharing with parents how they can develop a meaningful and engaging time with their little ones.

TNAP: In your eyes, what makes an effective and good teacher?

I believe an effective and good teacher is one who does not force his/her students to learn. Instead, creativity and energy are key in presenting the knowledge to a child to help spur the curiosity and desire to learn. Patience is also a crucial element when we interact and engage with the young ones. Never hurry them! It will only seek to dampen their overall learning enthusiasm.

TNAP: Who do you look up to as a role model in terms of your teaching career and why?

My high school teacher Mrs Erlinda Torrente. The course that she taught was challenging for most students, but she managed to turn it into an experience that was fun and enjoyable for all. She also managed to strike a balance by instilling a strict and firm set of expectations she had for her students, Her ability to make learning enjoyable while striking a good balance between being serious yet approachable is something I respect and admire deeply.

TNAP: Share with us one or two memorable moments in your teaching career that left a deep imprint in you.

Teaching at Gymnademics, I get the daily privilege of working closely with young children who are learning to crawl, creep and walk independently. So memorable moments are aplenty, as every once in a while, we will get to share the joy with the parents when their little ones reach a significant mobility milestone. Such moments usually transcend throughout the teaching staff, and everyone celebrates it!

TNAP: Looking back in your teaching career, were there any mistakes or decisions which you regretted? If yes, how did you learn from it?

When I first started as a child play therapist in the hospital, there were moments where I will be overwhelmed by the severity of a child’s condition, making it difficult for me to help him find more joy through fun and play until it was too late. Through the ordeal, I learn to appreciate how precious and important it is for us to fill every minute of a child’s life with fun, joy and laughter, because that’s how one’s childhood should be.

TNAP: If no, what are the things you think teachers can continuously strive to improve and upgrade themselves in?

Listening skills and patience are areas I feel all teachers should continue to improve on. Reading widely on education related literature is also important in helping us be more creative and effective in designing and conducting our classes.

Teacher Rachel, performing at Gymnademics Sparkanauts Big Day Out 2013

TNAP: Parents sometimes put teachers on a very high pedestal sometimes and expect a lot from them. What do you wish more parents knew about the teaching profession?

The education of a child is a partnership between parents and teachers. The job of a teacher is never complete unless we are able to work closely with parents to provide a child with a holistic development at home, beyond the confines of the classroom.

TNAP: Complete this sentence. Teaching is…

The selfless sharing of knowledge in a manner that recognises the individuality of every student.

Photos by Rachel R. Villareal.

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