Mrs. Maria Lorna L. Garnace, 2013 Metrobank Foundation Outstanding Teacher Awardee. Photo courtesy of MBFI
Mrs. Maria Lorna L. Garnace, 2013 Metrobank Foundation Outstanding Teacher Awardee (Secondary category) . Photo courtesy of MBFI

TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines – A secondary school teacher who almost didn’t finish college due to poverty, earned a spot at the 2013 Metrobank Foundation’s Search for Outstanding Teachers (SOT).

Maria Lorna L. Garnace of Philippine Science High School (PSHS), Eastern Visayas Campus in Palo, Leyte, joined three other awardees of the SOT Secondary level category which includes Dominique J. Maquiran of the University of the Philippines High School in Iloilo City; Dr. Maria Teresa M. Bautista, Bacnotan National High School in La Union and Marcelo T. Otinguey, Ampusongan National High School in Bakun, Benguet.

The annual search now on its 29th year is organized by the Metrobank Foundation, the corporate social responsibility arm of the Metrobank Group, was established by its chairman Dr. George S.K. Ty in 1979.

This year’s national search has 367 nominations from various public and private educational institutions nationwide, of which 40 qualified as regional finalists.

The regional finalists underwent interviews and teaching demonstrations before the members of the preliminary board of judges identified for each category.

Twenty national finalists then were selected to become the national finalists.

Garnace at 42 summers, has dedicated half of her life to teaching. She is currently a Special Science Teacher III with English as field of specialization and her administrative duty is Head of Humanities Division of the school.

She devised teaching strategies, like skits and plays that make learning more productive, fun and enjoyable in her classes. Instead of plain educational trips, she utilized educational trips for writing. She conducted mini-journalism workshops with photo and movie poster exhibits. Instead of just letting her students read a novel, she let her students understand the elements of a novel through a talk show.

When she once served as homeroom supervisor, she taught the students waste segregation dubbed as “”Treasure in the Trash” and initiated the selection of Model Homeroom and Model Homeroom Adviser.

As adviser of the student publication CAFÉ Pisay and Honors Society, she identified and trained students who can represent the school in all categories. Many students garnered awards in division, regional and national competition. Most laudable is that those students who belong to the director’s list are guided to tutor those low performing scholars.

Garnace’s dedication towards teaching is ignited by her passion to mold the youth, the future of our country. “My passion is not only molding the minds of the youth, I give equal importance to molding the values of the young generation. It is fun and fulfilling to see our students evolve and become agents for change in the society where they belong,” Garnace said.

As officer of the Secondary Schools Press Advisers Association, she has been instrumental in the improvement of the contests and total performance in the National Schools Press Conference. Recently, she hosted all the delegates of the PSHS System in the campus and brought honors for the whole system and the region.

She served as resource person in the Upgrading Program learning Institute for Teachers (UPLIFT), where 1,500 teachers from Department of Education were trained by Philippine Science High School System mentors.

Garnace graduated cum laude in Secondary Education at Leyte Normal University. She wanted to be a doctor but due to poverty, has set aside her dreams. But medical field’s loss is education’s gain.

She has reaped Outstanding Teacher’s Award for seven consecutive years and was awarded the Outstanding School Paper Adviser of the Division of Leyte in 2012.

Behind the blackboard, Garnace is a wife and mother of four children. As coordinator of Family and Life Apostolate, together with her husband, they conducted pre-cana seminars, mass weddings, couple’s retreat, family vigil, family celebrations and gift-giving.

She and her husband are active members of the Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professionals. She is never too busy to be of service to the community.

“My husband, Dr. Reynaldo Garnace, newly appointed director of PSHS-EV, and I have shared testimonies of our lives to different parts of the region. We also helped members of the extended family and even strangers pursue their studies. We look it as our payback service for the privileges and benefits we enjoyed while we were enjoying support and scholarship in college,” Garnace said.

She reminisced how her family survived by hand-to-mouth existence. Her father was a fisherman and her mother a plain housewife. “If there was no catch, there was no food in the table,” she said teary-eyed. As the only girl and eldest in a brood of 7, she spent her childhood days vending fish or vegetables from her grandmother’s farm in Tanauan, Leyte.

“The poverty I experienced with my family inspired me to finish my studies. I firmly believe that education is the solution to end any problem in the community. I got scholarship from CHED and another from a Japanese foundation. The allowances I received helped me finished college and helped send my brothers to school,” Garnace said humbly.

She continued, saying: “This accolade is a lot meaningful to me, my school, my family and the community I served. This award exemplifies an exemplary image of a teacher who can strike a balance of life as a teacher, a wife, a mother and a citizen. The award exudes my essence as a teacher – a profession, a mission, and apostolate.”

On September 5, on the occasion of the 51st anniversary of Metrobank, Garnace along with nine other awardees will be conferred with gold medallion from President Benigno Simeon Aquino III. They will also receive plaques and P350,000 cash prize each.

The winners automatically become members of the Network of Outstanding Teachers and Educators or NOTED, an honor society of outstanding teachers committed to nurturing a culture of excellence and service among educators through professional development, publications, research, and advocacy in active partnership with government and non-government organizations.

Here are the winners of this year’s SOT: Elementary level—Fely A. Batiloy of the Special Education Integrated School for Exceptional Children in Iloilo City; Dr. Mitchel V. Rodriguez, Odiongan Central School in Gingoog City; Cherry G. Vinluan, Guagua Elementary School in Pampanga; and Rodel C. Sampang, Pedro Guevarra Elementary School in Manila.

Tertiary level—Dr. Alfredo C. Robles Jr. of De La Salle University, who teaches international relations here and abroad and works with graduate and undergraduate students as well as midlevel bureaucrats and diplomats; and Dr. Emilyn Q. Espiritu of Ateneo de Manila University, a professor of environmental science who consults with different government agencies on the practical use of environment studies in crafting laws and protecting communities.

This year’s panel of judges included Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III who served as chairman, with co-chairs Manila 6th District Rep. Rosenda Ann Ocampo and Supreme Court Associate Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe.

Members of the panel were Professional Regulation Commission Chair Teresita Manzala; Albay Gov. Jose Ma. Clemente Salceda; University of Santo Tomas Rector Rev. Fr. Herminio Dagohoy, O.P., and Philippine Daily Inquirer columnist Rina Jimenez David.

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