Since 1985, the Metrobank Foundation has carried out an annual search for the best teachers in the Philippines. Every year, the foundation accepts applications from teachers around the country for its Search for Outstanding Teachers (SOT) program. After multiple rounds in an extensive search process, the Metrobank Foundation selects 10 teachers to honor for their contributions to education in the Philippines.

The Metrobank Foundation states that the program is designed to promote a culture of excellence in the field of education in the Philippines. The award is meant to motivate educators to be the best possible teachers.  As a result, students receive a higher quality education and many teachers receive credible reviews.

Teachers of all grade levels from public and private schools can apply for the SOT program. The application comes out in January each year. After all applications are received, the Metrobank Foundation narrows the competition down to about 50 teachers. These 50 teachers undergo a thorough interview process so that by July, a selection committee can pick just 10 teachers to celebrate that year.

The award is quite prestigious, and comes with an enticing prize. Aside from winning a medal, a trophy and a plaque for the teachers to display at their schools, winners also receive 500,000 Philippine Pesos, which translates to just over $11,500. This is extremely enticing for teachers in the Philippines, where the average monthly salary for those in the teaching profession is 33,374 Philippine Pesos, or $767.60. Finalists that do not make it to the final 10 receive a smaller, but noteworthy, cash prize as well.

The 2014 search began in January, as it does every year. This year, however, was particularly special for the Metrobank Foundation because it marked the 30th anniversary of the SOT program. To celebrate 30 years of recognizing outstanding teachers, the theme of this year’s search was “Launching Dreams toward Nation Building.”

Any teacher selected for the prestigious honor of a 30th anniversary SOT winner will be not only an outstanding teacher, but also an educator dedicated to empowering Philippine youth for the betterment of the country’s future.

The Metrobank Foundation has created an honor society comprised of all previous SOT winners.  The society is called the Network of Outstanding Teachers and Educators Inc., but is often shortened to “NOTED.” NOTED ensures that SOT winners continue proving their commitment to excellence in education after they have received their awards. NOTED fosters collaboration among the top educators in the Philippines to increase creativity and professionalism in their classrooms. Additionally, NOTED provides a group for these knowledgeable educators to discuss national concerns in the field of education.

The Department of Education and the Commission on Higher Education in the Philippines aid the Metrobank Foundation every year in the search for 10 well-deserving teachers. In the past, winners have included Mitchel Rodriguez, who single-handedly organized a reading program in her school to improve students’ reading habits; Rodel Sampang, a teacher that makes lessons relatable by comparing them to real-world situations; Emilyn Espiritu, an environmental scientist and educator that helped her students make environmentally conscious decisions based on her own discoveries.

The point of the SOT program is to generate a desire for all teachers to do something meaningful just like the previous winners of the competition. If every teacher in the Philippines strives to achieve the same level of excellence required to be recognized by the Metrobank Foundation, Philippine students can receive quality education.

– Emily Walthouse

Sources: Inquirer, Metrobank Foundation, Phil Star, Salary Explorer, Sunday Punch
Photo: Inquirer