When Mrs. Imelda Gealon, Principal of Taloot Central Elementary School (TCES), first came to TCES in 2013, she realized that many of the school facilities needed improvement. But she was heartbroken when she saw the antiquated school library with shelves filled with very old DepEd issued textbooks. She imagined the students missing so much of the joy that comes from reading books.
She knew she had to do something about it, and found a strong ally and partner in Mrs Estrella Abear, the President of the TCES School Governing Council that has been fully organized and functional since 2015. The TCES SGC is known to be very active in school and community activities. They have their own projects like a common vegetable garden and Purok Centers that also serve as reading centers for children on weekends and during vacation time. The TCES SGC is comprised of presidents of the 7 purok or sub-villages of Barangay Taloot. The Purok Governance System has been successful in getting most of the parents to actively support projects that contribute to school learning and child development goals. Mrs. Abear was herself a former Barangay Council Education Chairperson which explained her good relationship with the purok leaders.
The school and the SGC made the rehabilitation of the TCES library their joint project, with Mrs Gealon and Mrs Abear being the women power behind the project. They reached out to the PTA and the Barangay. Together, they approached the LGU of Argao. Mayor Stanley Caminero was very supportive and approved a budget to finish the TCES library building. Mayor Caminero said the project would enhance the facilities of TCES which was then planned to become an integrated school with junior high school classes. The Mayor also gave credit to the united effort shown by the school, the SGC, the parents and the barangay for their noteworthy project. For the tables and chairs for the new library, they approached the former Mayor of Argao, Provincial Board Member Edsel Galeos and the barangay office.
The tandem of Mrs Gealon and Mrs. Abear were relentless to see their dream library filled with new books. Books would entice the schoolchildren’s interest in reading and help the poor readers of their school. They sent letters requesting for book donations to Synergeia Foundation and to an alumna of TCES, Ms. Karen Debels, who is based in Australia. Their book donations were added to the books donated through the Basa Pilipinas program of USAID.
The new TCES library was opened in November 2017. Finally, Mrs. Gealon’s and Mrs. Abear’s dream library is now a reality because of the collaboration of many stakeholders. Everyone in the school was filled with gratitude and joy. The children seemed all excited to use the new library that the librarian had to schedule visits to the library by grade level to accommodate all of them. She would patiently teach and guide the students on the proper use of the library.
Children of TCES developed the habit of going to the library regularly. Teachers said that they noticed improvements in the reading ability especially of the slow learners. Because the school has now become an integrated school with more enrollees, a bigger library has been put up in a bigger building in the campus. Three reading nooks have since been constructed in the open space of the school to accommodate more children wanting to read story books during break time. Mrs Gealon has left to become the District 1 Supervisor but with the new school principal, Mrs. Fatima Solis, the TCES SGC vowed to remain strong and functional to be able to continuously support the school provide good facilities for the children to learn better.
By Ms. Vicky Armilla, Synergeia Program Officer for Cebu