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The Leader of a Progressive School

Manager, administrator and leader are terms used to describe authority figures in groups or organizations (Taylor, 1989). In school management, the administrator’s organizational success is how well the needs of the children and employees are met.

In DECS Order No. 107 “Standard for the Organization and Operation of Preschools” , an administrator is defined as “a person who plans, implements, supervises, monitors or evaluates a school program.” It further prescribes that the administrator should have a college degree in a discipline allied to education with at least 18 units of preschool education, preferably with a master’s degree in education and with at least two years of very satisfactory work experience in a school set up.

Being the Directress of Nest School for Whole Child Development, I’m proud to say I am in the company of men and women who are passionate about their schools and what they represent. Two women who I interviewed for my thesis are Teacher Francie Castaneda-Lacanilao of The Learning Tree (TLT) Child Growth Center and Teacher Feny de los Angeles-Bautista of Community of Learners (COLF).

All my daughters went to The Learning Tree and I know first-hand how Teacher Francie mans the helm of the school. She created her own personal approach to the philosophy. She called it the experiential-integrative approach. She also formed structures for her approach namely, feeling-acting integration which upholds the progressive philosophy of being experiential, love for God, country and self, team collaboration, excellence in productivity, and a creative-expansive dimension to learning or the goal for her students to be critical thinkers. She clearly explained all of her philosophical concepts to the parents of her students.

The developmental-interactive approach is how Teacher Fenny defined her approach. She continued by explaining that the school “looks at the individual needs of children”. Since the school was opened to serve all children – including children with special learning disabilities, she described her philosophy in the acronym TEACH or “to teach all children”. She also stressed that her school is learner-centered and she envisioned it as a community of young and old learners, representing the students and the school personnel.

Both women put up progressive primary education because of a similar clamor. The parents of their graduates became frustrated because there was no progressive primary school that can continue what their preschools espoused. Most “big schools” were practicing the traditional stream of education. Teacher Fenny aspired further by establishing a secondary level in her progressive school. She has seen this problem since she taught in the UP-CDC. She felt there was no continuation of the progressive philosophy in the upper grades. She envisioned establishing progressive elementary and high school levels in her school even before its foundation. They did not mention any form of eclecticism in their philosophy. They adhered to the statements of Graff, Street, Kimbrough and Dykes (1966) of following a unifying educational philosophy. They apparently are focused on their philosophy. They are able to fully explain and define their philosophy and their approaches.

Teacher Francie and Teacher Feny inspire me to reach for a new level in educating children. They paved the way for progressive schools not only to gain ground but also to bring it to primary and secondary education.

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