by Mariah JC
Aside from imparting lessons from the curriculum, a teacher wears many hats – a counselor, a talent scout, a coach and a referee, the list goes on and sometimes even a nose wiper as parents entrust their young kids to teachers as early as 5 years old. This means they also serve as second parents who are able to shape the minds and characters of members of the society as most learners spend the first two decades of their lives in the hands of educators.
To some, teaching might just be a profession that pays the bills. But some teachers see it as their life’s calling – and they are willing to go above and beyond their job title and salary grade. This is the case for Jan Michael C. Sotto, an educator from Lolomboy, Bocaue, Bulacan, fondly called Sir JM by his students. Aside from the many side roles expected from being a department head in a public high school and teaching in two colleges, he also plays the role of a community development worker.
They say that the best teachers see their students as a continuum of oneself; and true enough, Jan Michael pursued this vocation wanting to pass on the optimism that teaching brings. He shared that it was because of his high school teacher Rosalinda Ventura that he pursued this career despite being fully aware of its challenges. “Everytime kasi na papasok siya magtuturo siya with costume, with props talagang namo-motivate akong matuto at nacha-challenge akong matuto sa kanya. Kaya nung time na makikita ko siya pinapangarap kong maging teacher, at pinangarap kong maging teacher,” Jan Michael reminisced some core memories from his school days as the learner.
As a college student, he started out community projects with his friend who is now also a teacher, Eljer David. After he graduated and met his workmates, he joined Junior Chamber International (JCI), a non-profit international non-governmental organization that aims to provide development opportunities that empower young people to create positive change. Then as if fate decided for him to have more avenues for helping, he saw on his Facebook timeline a post about BEAGIVER, which enabled him to be part of initiatives such as Pasko sa Ika-apat ng Mayo and Fruitscapades, projects where they distributed foodpacks, and fruits and nutritious foods to the children of Bocaue respectively. Through the help of the Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation, they were able to donate laptops to less fortunate students which enabled them to continue their education during distance learning. Jan Michael also manages another advocacy organization called Project Go 100 which always partners with BEAGIVER so that they could broaden their reach.
“You can help in your own way. Pwedeng yung service mo, pwedeng yung talent mo, yung ability mo, so ganun ko po ini-inspire yung mga kasamahan ko sa team na nagtutulong-tulong kami even though lack of resources darating minsan ‘yung biyaya kasi ginagamit namin ‘yung kung anong meron sa amin para mailapit ‘yung project namin sa ibang tao o sa mga taong may kaya,” he noted about the many community projects he has worked on. He may not have a lot of money but what he lacks in financial resources, he makes up for in the passion to be of service to others. This is something he also instilled in his students. “Tumutulong din po kami sa ibang mga tao though hindi naman po kami nakakapagbigay in monetary but, ‘yung act of giving po of our time para po makatulong sa iba.Nakilala po namin si Sir JM as sobrang sipag na teacher and aside from that is ‘yung willingness niya po na makatulong sa ibang tao and makapagbigay ng hope and light sa ibang tao,” one of the students who received free laptops expressed how Jan Michael lighted the fire of volunteerism in them.
Jan Michael has been with BEAGIVER as a Lead Giver and initiator. Due to the pandemic some of their activities were forced to go into a hiatus, but on September 2, 2022, the heavy rainfall did not stop Jan Michael together with his other co-teachers and volunteers to continue a much anticipated bag drive where they gave away schoolbags to 50 Grade 7 students in need at Lolomboy National High School.
“Pangarap kong maabot din sila nung iba’t ibang mga tao para dumating yung time na may mga pangangailangan sila ay masuportahan sila, at pagdating ng araw sila naman yung gaganap sa mga ginagampanan nung mga taong tumulong sa kanila,” Jan Michael shared his greatest aspiration. A lot of people are the way they are because of a teacher that touched their lives. Sir JM is one of the best educators who treats his students like his own children and makes sure they always do their best. Through BEAGIVER, a social enterprise focused on spreading a culture of generosity by providing school bags to children in need, anyone can inspire hope and share the gift of education by helping less fortunate students in attaining their dreams. Visit beagiver.com.ph now.