By Maria A.Beebe
“Wonderful. Exciting. Magical.”
Kaisipan entered into a partnership agreement with the Department of Education, Division of City Schools in Manila (DepEd Manila), whose mission is to raise educational attainment and ensure quality education. The Department of Education, Division of City Schools Manila, a public educational institution based in Ermita, Manila, is represented by its Schools Division Superintendent, Maria Magdalena M. Lim.
Kaisipan also signed a partnership agreement with the Layertech Software Labs Inc. (Layertech), a techno-centric research and development company, and with an official business address at Tabon-Tabon, Daraga, Albay, Philippines. Layertech’s mission is to provide relevant, inclusive, and effective ICT solutions to help solve organizations and society’s biggest challenges. Layertech’s President is Maria Jihan “Frei” Sangil.
Kaisipan Inc. is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit corporation registered in Florida, US, with a principal address in Naples, Florida. Kaisipan’s vision is transforming learning and teaching through digital educational solutions and its mission is digital capabilities for all educators and learners.
The three organizations shared a common purpose of contributing to the quality of education, and they complimented each other’s strengths.
It did not take long for something magical to happen. As part of the Kaisipan/Layertech agreement, Frei Sangil granted premium access (regular cost is $95 per user) to 10 special education children at DepEd Manila to experiment with learn2code for kids and python for teens.
As noted in Layertech’s website: learn2code for kids is “designed for kids aged: 8-12 years old although 7-15-year-olds have participated too! This course is a three-part interactive E-workshop that will teach kids how to make their own games, animation, and how to use other sensors for programming. The kids learn basic concepts necessary to code and reinforce the logic needed to produce fun and functional games! Layertech designed the learning modules to be fun, colorful, and interactive! “Learn2Code series introduces Python for Teens (and Advanced Kids!). The suggested minimum age is 14 years old. Younger advanced kids may try, but we advise for parents to supervise them still.”
Mary Ann Perdon, a special education teacher from DepEd Manila, followed protocols about special education students. Mary Ann coordinated with her school head, Mrs. Rosemarie P. Visaya, teachers, and parents to ensure a safe online environment for the kids. Mary Ann was mindful of the guidance from Dr. Lirio Covey (Professor of Clinical Psychology at Columbia University Medical Center, Founder and President at Association for Adults with Autism Philippines). When asked if someone who has autism can benefit from a computer coding class, Dr. Lirio responded: “Not any person with autism, but certainly, there will be such capable individuals. As you may know already, capabilities among autistics are many of varying levels. The capacity to learn, which you refer to, is also within the capabilities of certain autistics. An assessment of the person’s capabilities would be important and at the least helpful.”
And the kids, their shining faces are the reason why we — Kaisipan, Layertech, and DepEd Manila — do what we do to get young kids, older kids excited about learning. You can imagine their shining faces that are not shown in the photos as part of good digital citizenship practice and honoring their privacy. Their gratitude is palpable.
“Thank you for the videos. I like it. I’m very interested in computers. And the modules.”
“This. I like this.”
“Thank you. God bless you all. More power.”
How can we not feel super-kilig about a difference that bits and bytes can make to help students have a magical learning experience!
In addition to a shared purpose, the organizations had champions with leadership qualities that made the partnership magical. When asked to describe themselves in three words, here’s what they said.
Amcy’s response to describe herself: Proactive, determined, and helpful.
Mary Ann describes herself: As a SPED Teacher: Compassionate. As an employee: Dedicated. As a person: flexible.
The reply from Frei: Inquisitive. Idealistic. Persistent.
“I ask and ponder on a lot of things, even ridiculous ones.”
“I have a lot of dreams, and even though many would consider them impossible or extremely challenging, I still work on them and keep the dream alive, hoping that we can get a little closer, no matter how far away it sits.”
“I actually enjoy challenging tasks, and I tend to keep working on a dream no matter how challenging it may be. If I fail, learn and try again!”
Toni Torres, Kaisipan BOD, built on an existing relationship with Frei Sangil to motivate her organization, Layertech to partner with Kaisipan. Fely Chacon, who was Maria Beebe’s co-teacher and fellow folk-dancer decades ago, taught Amcy Esteban, a supervisor at DepEd/Manila. Dr. Lirio Covey, who provided online guidance on autism, is one of the Filipina Women’s Network (FWN) influential women of the world, another Maria Beebe link. Lirio also considers herself a teacher, an educator.
So, there you have it. The ingredients for a magical partnership have a memorandum of understanding, a shared vision, champions with passion and leadership qualities, and relationship building among a widening circle of teachers who wove an invisible network of love. And gratitude from special children.