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Opinion: An Overview of Six Years

11/13/2017 08:20:00 PM Media Center 0 Comments

Photo Credit: Jem Torrecampo

Every year, the University of the Philippines Integrated School (UPIS) experiences several changes—new teachers, new students, and new facilities. For this AY 2017-2018, one of the biggest changes is the transition to a new administration.

It has been a month or so since Dr. Ronaldo M. San Jose, the UPIS principal from June 2011-September 2017, passed the administration reins to Dr. Lorina Y. Calingasan, a Social Studies professor at UPIS and UP College of Education for 20 years.

As Dr. Calingasan and her team take over, let us take a look at the UPIS students’ perception of how Dr. San Jose was able to perceive the principal’s herculean responsibility in the last six years.

A First Time for Everything

Of the many tasks designated to Dr. San Jose, the implementation of the K-12 system in UPIS was, in hindsight, the most daunting. This change brought with it challenges like the development of a new curriculum and new learning materials and the need for new teachers, among others. Such matters were taken into consideration during Executive Committee (ExeComm) meetings with him at the helm. The organization into academic tracks, the current crop of core, cluster, and interest courses, and the inclusion of on-campus and off-campus internship programs were the products of these meetings.

In addition to the meticulous task of organizing room assignments and class schedules for the now 13 UPIS batches was also addressed under Dr. San Jose’s administration. In addition to this, his administration also started addressing the challenges brought about by the recent calendar shift, wherein the start of classes was moved to August instead of June.

However, there have been moments that the first times didn’t last for very long. For example, one can remember the Commuter’s Pass which was supposed to be used by students who commute on their own so that they may be allowed to leave the school grounds after class. Although the Commuter’s Pass continues to be in use by elementary students, it has proved to be short-lived and inefficient for high schoolers as it wasn’t carried out consistently. Another example would be the implementation of Pink Slips. Teachers issued this slip in an effort to regularly inform parents when their child’s attention regarding tardiness and incomplete uniform, among others, was called. This too was fleeting due to inconsistencies.

Another first for UPIS students was the modification of the UPIS Week to UPIS Fair, because of the fact that it was shortened by two days. The UPIS Fair now consisted of three days, with the fourth being the Lantern Parade. This was because the UPIS Week was deemed too long and full of breaks in the middle of the days, and therefore was seen fit to be shortened to save time, money, and energy. Yet a minor miscalculation occurred in the fact that even though it was an annual event that concerned all students, they had little influence in the decision. What was possibly lacking was the communication between the administration and the students. Decisions could have been explained better to the student body in order to welcome a different perspective and to adjust accordingly with the help of their insights. The student council and the various organizations in the school do exist, not only to unify the student body, but also to create a bridge amongst the whole UPIS community, students, teachers, staff, and admin alike.

On the other hand, there have been significant changes in UPIS that have received great results. Even though it was heart-breaking to leave the old buildings of UPIS along Katipunan Avenue, it was a fresh experience for the high school campus to be relocated inside the UP Campus and for elementary classes to finally resume in the newly-renovated 3-6 Building. The relocation had a rocky start, with various issues with infrastructure but one can see that a lot of effort is being made to make the school better for the students. Recently, the UPIS gymnasium was built to aid student athletes in their training. The elementary and high school canteens were renovated to accommodate the increased number of high school students. The auditorium and Bulwagan are also currently being improved and will hopefully be utilized by the students next semester. Infrastructure-wise, the weaknesses have been pointed out and are gradually being addressed.

Beyond the Four Walls of the Office

If one asked Dr. San Jose’s or Sir SJ’s students who he was as a Math teacher, they would dub him a very amicable and effective educator. He starts the first day of class by giving his students random names which he soon replaces with their real names once he gets used to them. Despite being the principal, the atmosphere in his classroom is always welcoming and engaging. Should you pass by him in the hallways, he is certainly approachable, and one can confidently go up to him and say hello or have a quick conversation.

Despite this, some students also found that his presence was rarely felt by others, as most of the time, students only see him every flag ceremony, in special announcements, during select classes, or when one actually enters his office. It is hardly expected of him to do so, given his busy schedule, however the friendly interaction between a principal and his or her students could not only make one more likable, but also foster a productive cooperation between the two parties regarding administration.

One would argue that this isn’t a principal’s job per se, but for the students to see him, and even fellow members of the faculty, staff, and the administration, at academic competitions or athletic events as a sign of support whenever they represent the school could boost their morale. This also creates an avenue for the principal to understand the students’ experiences and to empathize with them, which could lead to decisions more suited to their needs. But despite the lack of direct connection between Dr. San Jose and the students of UPIS, his time and attention were always dedicated for the improvements and changes that will help the school as a whole.

More Mountains to be Conquered

The previous administrations under Dr. San Jose had a lot on their plate with the relocation, the calendar shift, the K-12 program, and all the other various projects they have done. Not every single problem can be addressed within a limited amount of time. There is more to be done. Because of the K-12 program, there is a significant need for human resource. The school needs more teachers to accommodate the amount of students and more instructors for the specialized cluster courses and electives that have branched out because of the new system.

With that also comes the need for more materials and facilities for the classes. There have been notable additions to the equipment that can be used in school, especially for the Practical Arts Department, yet this can still be furthered with the acquisition of necessary equipment for the student athletes and the various courses and electives. These are all concerns that may hopefully be given attention with the coming of a new administration.

Overall, Dr. San Jose’s run as principal is commendable. Even though no system is ever perfect and despite the rollercoaster of changes that UPIS has experienced, it cannot be denied that many of the changes implemented under his administration will benefit the school well beyond his term.

On that note, the student body is optimistic about the changes that will come with Dr. Calingasan’s administration. Dr. San Jose has left big shoes to fill, but with the help of the new members of the administration and the faculty and staff, the responsibilities and obstacles can surely be addressed with efficiency. The implementation of rules and regulations in the institution will be top priority. With a strong principal at the wheel working with a united administration, consistency and improvement won’t be as hard as it looks, because after all, it is they who make a strong foundation for a strong UPIS.//by Hillary Fajutagana, Hannah Manalo, LM Gacad, Aldous Dela Pena

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