It is with a sad heart that I resigned in Baltimore City Public Schools System this month. My husband, Mr. Anjilou Flores (who was my boyfriend in the film THE LEARNING), and I prayed so hard about this decision and so far this is the toughest decision we’ve ever made. It is a lot of sacrifice to be 100 miles away from each other on the weekdays and spend limited time together during the weekends while preparing for another week of work. It also means doubling our expenses because now we will be renting two places, two cars plus the insurance, still sending money to the Philippines for the needs of my family but cutting off in my salary by almost 45%. On my reflection time God reminded me in Philippians 4:6-7, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." We may lose that big amount of money but in the long run it will be worth all the sacrifices.
I don’t want to leave my school (North bend Elementary/Middle School) because we have a principal (Mrs. Patricia Burrell) who is so appreciative, supportive & loving to us 4 Filipino teachers. She is so willing to fight for us to stay in Baltimore for good. My husband (Elementary Language Arts, drama & broadcast teacher in the same school) & I felt so much loved and accepted by the staff. The school recognized all my efforts and I was awarded “Most Improved Test Scores” for MSA 2010 and “Teacher of the Month” last February 2011. It was such a privilege to serve as 7th & 8th grade team leader and spearhead various programs/activities in the school.
I have gained a lot of skills working in BCPSSS (Harlem Park Middle, Dr.Roland N. Patterson Sr Academy, Pimlico Elementary Middle & North Bend Elementary Middle) and I am so thankful for that. Baltimore molded me to be the tougher teacher that I am today. I will surely take all the good memories with me wherever I go. Their support and care have made me stronger. The kids that I have worked with, the colleagues that have shown me greatness and the administrators that gave me love and covered my backs will always be my part of my life.
So how it all did started? 2nd week of August I started shooting emails in the internet. I searched for job openings for Math (6th to 12th grade) and Elementary. On the 3rd week, I received a phone call from a charter school in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for an interview. During the interview with the CEO & Academic Dean, they ask me about my teaching experience with Baltimore students. It was a plus factor I guess when you teach in Baltimore. They also asked me about my visa status. I have told them that I am holding H1B (working) visa, I still have a job in Baltimore but I am looking for a job that will sponsor permanent residency because BCPSS is uncertain with the sponsorship. I started applying for a job so I have a place to go to next year. They have told me that they will ask their lawyer about the process and they will call me back for the 2nd interview. So, I walked back in the car where my husband is waiting, I told him how the interview was & I have told him that they might not call back anymore because there were lots of American citizens who applied for the same job. To my surprise, the following week they called for my 2nd interview. I prepared a demonstration lesson because they might ask me to do one but, when I came for the interview they have told me that I am their top choice among all the applicants, they already talked to the lawyer, they will start the process of H1B transfer and they will sponsor my permanent residency next year using EB2 process which will only take 6 months to one year. The only thing is that this offer stands for this school year because they are not sure if they will have vacancies next year.
Anjilou & I started to ask God for signs if this is His will. We do not know anyone in Philadelphia, the opening of school year 2011-2012 is just in the next few days, we have a lot of things to do in a very short time. We are stressed out with the situation. Will my principal accept my resignation right in the beginning of school year? There are lot of questions and worries but God has reminded me about the story of Peter on Matthew 14: 27-29 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. It is a very powerful word “COME". I prayed that as I obey His calling I will grow more by faith in Him. I know that sometimes we need to step out of our comfort zone so we can completely rely on Him. This is another leap of faith. Everything started to fall into its place. When I spoke with our principal, she released me with full blessing. She assured me that she loves me and she knows that I will be okay because God is with me. She said that she will look forward having me in her school in the future. It was hard for her to let go and she doesn’t want to lose all of her Filipino teachers but she understands our visa situation and she is praying for us all.
During the hurricane Irene, Anj and I were stranded in Philadelphia for 2 days. I reflected on the verse on Isaiah 41:10 "Don’t be afraid, for I AM with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I AM your GOD. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand." Guess what? God even used hurricane to lead us to a group of Filipino Christians in Philadelphia. We found a family that offered the attic of their house for me to stay. It is not just a teaching job that God wants me to do in Philadelphia but there’s another mission waiting for me and Anj. He trained us in Baltimore City so we can also bless this small church and serve by using our talents. Our church in Baltimore (River of Life Church) is really living up to its vision and mission to send missionaries across US and around the world. My experience as a worship leader, Sunday school teacher, and musical theater director will be used again in another place. My husband and I are partners in our ministry in the church and we see this opportunity in Philadelphia to work together for His glory.
God showed us that He is an unstoppable God and His plan always prevails. My plan is to leave Baltimore next year but His plan is to go now. I am so thankful and so favored to have this opportunity to be a teacher here in the US. He is not just providing a solution to my visa status but He is calling me for another mission. I am using teaching as an avenue for me to be a missionary in my own little way as I encourage my students to be prepared in life. They may not master all the skills in Math but it is my desire that in one way or another, I may be able to touch their lives as I encourage them to reach their dreams and goals in life.
I love Baltimore and all the precious memories will remain in my heart. May God’s glory be reflected in whatever I do and wherever I go.