AIM fellow gives learners hope for a better life
By Ma. Rosanna Mina, abs-cbnNEWS.com | 06/08/2009 11:31 AM
It has been 31 years since Lorna Dig Dino, Ph.D. started teaching and it seems like there is no stopping her from continuing her vocation. She said she plans to stay in the education sector for as long as she can to inspire more people, students and educators alike.
Currently the director of the Department of Education’s (DepEd) National Educators Academy of the Philippines (NEAP), Dr. Dino told abs-cbnNEWS.com that she is passionate about her work because of the “opportunity to assist learners, to give them hope for better lives.”
“Now, I take all the opportunities to inspire other educators to happily make a difference at DepEd, not because we are mandated but because we truly care,” she said in an e-mail correspondence.
Dino shared that it is the classroom where she belongs. She started her career in 1978 as a high school teacher at Sorsogon College of Arts and Trades.
“I found out after around three years of teaching, when I worked in the office for a few months as a researcher that I am more relevant and happier in the classroom than in the office,” said Dino.
Before being at the helm of NEAP, she held the DepEd positions of Teacher 1, Teacher III/Teacher-in-Charge, Administrative Officer Designate, Education Supervisor I, Assistant Schools Division Superintendent and Schools Division Superintendent of Sorsogon.
Prior to her DepEd work, she was vice-president for Academic Affairs, Dean of College of Arts and Sciences, Academic Supervisor, Graduate and College Professor, Thesis and Dissertation Adviser, Secondary School Teacher, and English Teacher.
“Being in the education sector is being part of the greatest chance to influence the Filipino children to be the best that they can be. Doing my job is an opportunity to influence others to truly love the learners and make a difference in their lives despite constraints,” she shared.
However, she also cited a downside. “Working in the education sector takes me away from home most of the time. But I have the full support of my husband and my children in what I do for the country.”
Dino, fondly called “Lorns,” is a mother of four. Her husband, Butch, is a medical officer. Her eldest child is a community developer while the rest of her children are students. Two are in college while the youngest is in high school.
Lorna is the only educator among her family of seven siblings although some of her aunts (cousins of her father) were also teachers.
“When I was in the elementary school and in high school, I just wanted to read and write but I never thought of teaching or pursuing any profession possibly because career path was never an issue at home not even in school,” she added.
Born on June 13, 1958 in Salvacion, Bacon, Sorsogon, Lorna finished elementary at Salvacion Elementary School. She attended the Annunciation College of Bacon for high school and earned her Bachelor of Science in Education, Social Science from Philippine Normal College. She also has a Bachelor’s degree in Education, English from the Annunciation College of Bacon Sorsogon Unit Inc.
She also studied Bachelor of Science in Education, Values Education at St. Louise de Marillac College in Sorsogon City. She even has 32 units of Bachelor of Laws from the University of Santo Tomas.
Her master’s degree in education in Administration and Supervision was also earned from Annunciation College. She finished her doctorate degree on Education Management from the University of St. Anthony in Iriga City.
In addition, Dr. Dino also has a diploma in Language Studies for Teachers from the University of the Philippines Open University.
“Although, I never aspired for promotion when I took my graduate studies, the diploma is useful during promotions,” she said of her thorough educational background. “The most important thing though is—graduate studies made me realize that there are many more things to unlearn and learn.”
As the NEAP director, Dino exercises over-all supervision and management of the day-to-day operations of the Academy.
She also manages the delivery of training programs with the staff in consultation with the Central Office Management.
She sets the priorities and direction of NEAP based on the DepEd thrusts. She is directly involved in crafting and implementing new programs for the NEAP staff and the Academy’s clientele.
In addition, she networks with other offices at the Central, field offices and organizations on policy formulation or modification, clientele, funding, delivery of training programs, monitoring, assessment and evaluation.
She even serves as a facilitator or resource person and performs other related tasks assigned by the DepEd Secretary or Undersecretary.
“My acceptance of the invitation to join the DepEd was also inspired by my prayer prior to the EMT, ‘Let those who have the heart and make a difference pass the exam,’” she related.
EMT is the Educational Management Test (EMT), the qualifying examination for Superintendents at DepEd.
“Knowing that my husband and the rest of my family are capable of managing the family-owned school, with their blessing, I accepted the opportunity to directly help in the basic education,” noted Dino.
As one who is directly involved in the education sector, she said she dreams for the “public school system, particularly the basic education system to provide a very strong life’s foundation for all school-aged children that will include the tools for life and life-long learning for them to become the best that they can be.”
When asked if such dream is attainable, she answered, “Yes! I am not alone in this. Many Filipinos share this dream.”
She also believes that the proficiency level attained by public school students in national achievement tests can be raised to 75 percent in three years. “It has been achieved by other schools. Hence the same can be attained by others.”
While there is mounting concern over the education sector, particularly the problems hounding public schools, Dino commented that “the public school system is fairly doing well.”
She said this “considering the number of learners and the deficiencies in terms of number of teachers and other resources in many schools.”
According to her, the DepEd has conducted numerous trainings to empower its officials and enhance their commitment to transformational leadership, which she cited as what may be the “only way” to improve the public school system.
“This starts from personal ownership of and response to educational issues by education leaders to co-ownership of the vision and mission as regards the issues which lead all the stakeholders to create innovative solutions,” she explained.
“This ensures personal involvement while seeking other stakeholders and partnering with them to solve the issues,” she added. “The process likewise requires complete understanding of the complex issues and letting go of traditional solutions to be able to create new ones.”
“When all education stakeholders work together, lack of funds will not be an issue. They will together mobilize resources from different sources,” she said.
Dino noted that she will continue to work for transformational leadership in the school system by using the Bridging Leadership Framework at the NEAP.
“I will create other opportunities to develop other transformational leaders,” she remarked.
“School-Based Management (SBM) will never work to enhance the quality of education in the different elementary and public schools unless the school heads are bridging or transformational leaders,” she said.
“These are the school administrators who have personal commitment and have engaged all education stakeholders to respond to priority issues in their respective stations,” added Dino.
She shared that the NEAP started this year an Induction Program for passers of the Qualifying Examination for Principals, which is a training program on Bridging or Transformational Leadership.
She said that transformational leaders should be able to create an innovative leadership curriculum “where Filipino educators will be trained to completely understand education issues, identify all causes and the causes of the causes, listen more, engage in dialogues, to identify, engage and manage education stakeholders who are part of the education divides.”
She hopes that such an innovative leadership curriculum will lead to decentralization and participative management in the public school system.
“The Bridging Leaders can never be transformational leaders if there is no decentralization policy,” she said.
“The public education sector, with the 43,000 public elementary and secondary schools, can never deliver and continuously improve the quality of education unless the school officials and other field officers like the Schools Division Superintendents and Directors are empowered to act within the policy set by the Central Office,” she commented.
For Dino, decentralization and participative management “can contribute to the improvement of public school education.”
“These indicate a great amount of trust and confidence in middle and school management by the Central Office Management which inspire field officials to be more dedicated and creative in addressing local issues without waiting for an order or memorandum from the Central Office,” she explicated.
She also mentioned that giving school officials the freedom to plan their own school programs will not ruin the coherence of the public school system curriculum.
“There is coherence in the public school system because the DepEd shares the same vision despite presence of varied and innovative programs and projects in the different schools, divisions and regions,” she reasoned.
“These programs address priority education issues in their respective stations… all these programs and projects are leading to one vision—improvement of quality education for the Filipino children and societal transformation.”
Dino is also an advocate of education summits as they “give all the education stakeholders, the education personnel and employees, parents, local leaders and officials the opportunity to know and understand the education status in their community.”
She cited that because of the summits, “Bayanihan system becomes more meaningful.”
According to Dino, education summits “strengthen community awareness of being part of the education problems and part of the solutions.”
They mobilize people to take action. They affect how resources for instance the Barangay Fund and Local School Board Fund are managed.”
She added, “The summits give them the opportunity to reflect on what they have contributed to the education sector and what else can they do, as individuals or as a group/sector in addressing the education issues indicated in the basic information/education statistics presented during the summit.”
Dr. Dino believes that her vocation involves empowering teachers, students and other education stakeholders to lead to a better school system.
But when outside the classroom or school, she still imparts her nurturing spirit to others as she “builds people by talking about loving what we do.” She said she also likes to smile, talk, listen, read and learn more.
Her other interests include creating gifts and decorative items, and “being happy and kind in making a difference in the lives of our clientele.”
“I love my job very much. In fact, it is not work. It has been part of my life,” she declared.
“My job gives me many opportunities to touch other peoples’ lives. And I do pray that I have inspired them to love their job and happily make a difference.”
Meanwhile, she said there is nothing she dislikes about her job. “I have not hated anyone or anything. I believe anger and hatred should not have a place in anyone’s heart.”
Dino is a Fellow of the second cohort of the Bridging Leadership Fellows Program of the Asian Institute of Management Team Energy Center.
“Knowing what I would learn from the prestigious school, I was overwhelmed,” she said upon knowing that she was selected to be a Fellow. “What also made me happy is the fact that the program would give me the opportunity to know my development areas and would assist me developed these weaknesses to become a more effective leader.”
She said that she learned the Bridging Leadership or transformational framework from the program which she used to become a transformational leader. She used the framework to train other teachers as well. In addition, she learned how to listen and engage others in dialogues.
“I learned that simply delegating tasks, asking subordinates to make decisions, and creating programs are not enough if one aspires for responsive and sustainable solutions,” she related.
“I learned that I have to influence people, other stakeholders, to also own my dreams and that people should not present programs and projects for acceptance, but to convene people to be fully engaged in creating innovative solutions,” noted Dino.