Lessons learned in ‘paying it forward’
“It’s good to be regularly reminded to take a fresh look, to not take everything for granted. You discover new things.” Learn how teaching children has helped Tracie communicate better in her day-to-day work, whilst also building on her personal sense of purpose.
Tracie’s long-held dream of attending college and getting a good education became a reality through support from a big-hearted benefactor. This much-needed scholarship ultimately paved the way for her to gain skills that led to Tracie securing a job at Shell. Keen to help others benefit from education, Tracie became a volunteer teacher. This out of hours work in the classroom is important for Tracie who wants to ‘pay it forward’ to inspire children to inquire and learn. It’s also helping improve the skills she applies in her job at Shell.
For as long as she can remember, Tracie Teodoro has been passionate about education. She also understood that getting a good education and becoming a university graduate, was an expensive exercise: a luxury out of the reach of some people in the Philippines. Sadly, her hopes to enter college became uncertain with the passing away of her father, the family breadwinner, the year before she might have started her tertiary education.
“The thought of not being able to go to college was just unimaginable. Thankfully, there was someone who took a leap of faith in my capability to make the most of my degree. Without the support of that scholarship, I wouldn’t know where my mom and I would get the funding for my degree,” Tracie said.
This support not only changed Tracie’s life, it’s had a flow on effect that’s benefitted many others.
“When I finished at college, I was determined to ‘pay it forward’,” she said.
“I wanted to do this for two really good reasons. One: for the people who believed in me and invested in my education. Two: for children who, like me, needed someone big-hearted enough to fuel the leaps and bounds they could take with a quality education.”
So Tracie, who is a Recruitment Advisor for Shell Business Operations in Manila Philippines, started volunteering as a teacher at Angels Here Abound Learning Centre (A-HA ). A-HA is a non-profit, non-government organisation providing free tutorial services to underprivileged public school children through its Centre in Makati City, Metro Manila.
Out of hours angels in the classroom
“I joined the lovely group of A-HA volunteers and Centre Managers in April 2014 and started at Shell later that year,” Tracie said. “I frequently taught third graders values education. Each of these sessions lasts about three hours with the last hour dedicated to playtime: just having fun. The focus of each session is on one value – like generosity or forgiveness for example. These lessons are usually on Saturdays. Sometimes I volunteer for other activities at the Centre, like Career Day, Sports Festival and Art Day, or tutoring a student one-on-one; often it’s in mathematics.”
When asked about what she personally got out her volunteer teaching, Tracie listed the following:
Tactfulness and role-modelling:
“To be frank, volunteer teaching can sometimes be frustrating, depending on the grade level you’re teaching. Kids will play up as their attention spans are tested. So I’m always very, very careful with my words and actions.”
Maintaining a childhood sense of wonder:
“The children I teach are always asking ‘why’ and ‘how’. They are constantly wondering and questioning. It’s good to be regularly reminded to take a fresh look, to not take everything for granted. You discover new things.”
“Sharing is an integral part of values education sessions. There is much to learn from each child. You just need an extra ounce of patience and respect to encourage them to share. I am also constantly sensitive and respectful of the background of each child, especially since their school setup is different to my own experience.”
Butterflies (tingles) in my stomach:
“The good kind you get when you see a child’s face light up with fascination and learning.”
Maintaining work/life balance
Tracie’s out of hours volunteer work is encouraged by Shell. “My line managers have reacted very positively with regards to my teaching. One of the reasons I chose to work for Shell was because of its social investment and performance commitments. Shell understands this: that I aspire to get involved and make an impact. Shell has acted on this and created opportunities for me by providing access to Shell’s Diversity and Inclusion training and facilitation, as well as mentoring Shell’s Science & Engineering Scholarship holders in the Philippines.
“So, for me, the line between work and life when it comes to social investment is blurred: that’s great. I couldn’t be any happier about these opportunities,” Tracie said.
“My main day-to-day Shell job, as a Recruitment Advisor, is helped by my volunteer work. Mine is quite a varied HR job. For example, it includes taking charge of Shell’s Campus Ambassador Programme; facilitating interview up-skilling workshops for Hiring Managers; and Diversity & Inclusion Lunch and Learn events,” Tracie said.
Asked how her out of hours efforts flowed on to positively impact her job at Shell, Tracie saw a number of benefits, notably the following three:
“I’ve learned to speak more clearly thanks to coaching by the centre manager during my early teaching at A-HA. Learning to adjust my style helps me with the workshops I facilitate at Shell.”
“Teaching, especially to children, helps you to speak in simpler terms and in smaller chunks. This has helped me communicate better with stakeholders. It’s helped me use simpler messages rather than filling up pages and pages.”
Sense of Purpose:
“Working with children means you have to be there with them physically and mentally: not thinking about something else. I believe this focus gives me a greater sense of purpose in what I’m doing. I’m more focused. I’m more in tune with – and more open to enjoy – their sense of wonder.”
“Through my work with A-HA, I’ve realised that being called "Teacher Tracie" is a privilege and an honour. It’s much more than a title assigned to a profession. My out of hours teaching is helping me put back into my community in a way that’s closest to my heart: by inspiring curiosity and learning in children and promoting good teachers.”