Ms. Laarni Ancheta, a Southwest kindergarten teacher, is one of five teachers returning to the Philippines after spending three years at Varnett. In 2012-13, 93 percent of her students passed the Stanford reading test and 82 percent passed the math test, placing her class among the highest in the district. Ms. Ancheta also taught Southwest PreK for two years. "Her willingness to learn and continue her training as a teacher helped her in the classroom," said Abiola Willoughby, K-2 curriculum coordinator. "She would go out and do her own research to improve her teaching." The following is an essay from Ms. Ancheta about her experience in Houston and at Varnett:
On July 19, 2010, mixed emotions haunted my feelings as I boarded the plane almost three years ago. One, I was heavy hearted because I would be away from my family, my work and my country. I was scared as well because I didn’t know how my life would be away from my loved ones. I didn’t know if I would survive. However, I was optimistic that I would have a new way of life and was very excited because one of my dreams would be realized: To land in the Land of the Free.
The first feeling that I had changed when the batch of 15 Exchange Teachers were warmly welcomed. I felt the acceptance and love. I had the courage to battle and appreciate life in the Land of Freedom. I felt I belonged.
Home away from home
Varnett Public School was my school and home away from my country. I was inspired how the Superintendent smoothly and successfully managed the district, how she inspired the teachers to perform jobs accordingly. The school’s ambiance was awesome, child friendly and conducive for learning. The Directors and other staff were very supportive and always ready to give a hand. I had wonderful parents, curious, inquisitive and appreciative students. I met trusted and loving friends who were always there for me. What a great opportunity and I was very much privileged to teach and touch the lives of American students bearing diverse cultures.
There were stressful moments and I was down especially when I made mistakes. I thought I would not survive but am proud to say that with the directors’ and friends’ patience, support and advice, I was one of the survivors. I considered these my learning experiences that broadened my horizons, helped me enhance my potential in the field of teaching and made me a better and experienced teacher.
I am counting down the days as I will board the plane back to my home country. As I leave the portals of Varnett, I am ready to share the innovations, skills, knowledge and experiences that I gained in my fruitful stay. The whole world will know you will be one of the memorable chapters of my life.
I wholeheartedly express my gratitude to Mr. Alsie and Dr. M Annette Cluff for the continued love and support, for the opportunity to be a part of the prestigious Varnett School. To Ms. Melissa Cluff, your trust and love are very much appreciated. I learned so much from you and you stimulated me to be courageous to face challenges in life. To the directors and all others, your support, hugs and advice encouraged me to move ahead for the betterment and welfare of the school children. To my family and friends, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your unending love and support. You all served an inspiration as I survived my American journey.
My tears drop every time I think I will be leaving the United States. I will be missing you all. May you all find good health and success as I pray with high hopes to see and be with you again in the near future. God bless everyone. Till we meet again!
Bottom Photo: The five teachers who will be returning to the Philippines after working at Varnett for three years are, from left, Nenita Santoyo, Rebecca Llera, Arturo DeLuna, Maria Advincula and Laarni Ancheta.