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Teacher’s pet

By Jullie Y. Daza

SHE’S the sexiest teacher I’ve ever met, not that she wants to be called sexy – she prefers “Teacher Nelia,” thank you – but Nelia Sarcol, a voluptuous ex-flight attendant of Philippine Airlines, is making waves as the founder of a Cambridge-partnered international school in Cebu, Makati, and Tacloban with out-of-the-box ideas.

Only someone as differently forward-thinking as Teacher Nelia would distribute books advocating a national ideology, what she calls the Pearl Principle, or deprive a graduate of valedictorian honors unless his or her class has helped – successfully – a poor family put up their own micro business. It goes without saying that in her CIE (Center for International Education) British School, where enrolment is R300,000, students who were born with a silver spoon in their mouth are at ease with grading success by counting pesos and centavos coming in (instead of going out). These kids, many of them with recognizable surnames, know that sustaining a project is more than launching it.

Sexy Teacher wears blouses cut with “cold shoulders” or “bakuna (vaccine) holes,” dangerously high heels, red red lipstick, long loose curls bouncing on her shoulders, and she believes that quality education is not the sole privilege of the privileged class but should be accessible to smart kids from middle-income families as well. If the goal of nation-building is self-sufficiency, it can only be done “by massively promoting the entrepreneurial abilities of the young.” Or what’s a development agenda for?

As she is fond of telling and retelling, one of her h.s. graduates earned R8 million from a simple project – soap making! (Teacher didn’t say if the student eventually got hired or if his product was bought by Unilever.) Toward the creation of a young entrepreneurial class, which puts her on the same wealth-worthy wavelength as Manny Villar, CIE offers two college courses “in my little school”: ICT and entrepreneurship. Invariably, that “ship” also spells leadership.

Which happens to be her pet subject, which happens to be her Pearl Principle, founded on the legend of Filipinos being the “people of the pearl.” That principle is embodied in a chain of 15 letters: A String of Pearls, “A Soaring and Tenacious Republic Instituted by Nation-loving Generations of Passionate, Ethical, Action-driven, Results-oriented Leaders of Society.” Take note, educators.