When the pandemic is over, the children of Barangay Small Margus in Glan, Sarangani Province will have an exciting school campus to go back to.

The COVID-19 pandemic has turned the once colorful grounds of Nicomedes Tolentino Elementary School in Barangay Small Margus, municipality of Glan, Sarangani Province, into a bleak and grim sight after it was utilized as an isolation facility.

The school campus became inaccessible to learners and teachers, leaving their classrooms, gardens, and parks unattended.

Temporarily, the Barangay Council provided a small building for the school to use as an office and as a place to conduct their alternative learning delivery modalities.

Instead of being discouraged by the absence of a school campus, the school principal, Corinna Falgui, saw an opportunity to document the school’s existing practices, display the outputs in a make-shift showroom, and invite validators to assess their school-based management (SBM) level of practice.

On February 19, 2021, the team of validators from the Schools Division of Sarangani assessed Nicomedes Tolentino ES to be on SBM level 3.

This has led to NTES becoming a benchmark for other schools in terms of school-based management.

Not long after, on March 8, the school administration gained back control and management of the school campus. 

There were no more COVID-19 cases recorded in the municipality for weeks and returning locals are no longer required to undergo quarantine, so the school is no longer needed as an isolation facility.

Not content with just cleaning and disinfecting the school facilities, the teachers at NTES started restoring the school campus into the jolly and lively place it used to be. 

The teachers cleaned, repainted, and installed recycled and upcycled materials as tools for learning.

The teachers built what they call the Learning Island of CheNeVy, TNT Learning Hub, PMY Children’s Eco-Park, Kiava Tropical Garden, JRC Festival Park, RiMo Children’s Playground, and Zen Garden.

When face-to-face classes will already be allowed, NTES is ready to welcome their learners with a school campus that will make learning even more fun.
Teacher Luz Villa expressed in a Facebook comment her excitement in doing the project.

“Thank God for the privilege! NTES learners SY 2019-2020 had a very short time to enjoy this due to the lockdown before the school year ended. The school was used as an isolation facility of the barangay so we were not able to take good care of our campus for about a year. Thanks be to God it was turned over back to us! Right there and then we started the restoration. Thanks to our principal for the support, for the paints, and for all the help to bring our campus back to how it was before,” she said in an emoji-peppered comment.

The story of the teachers at Nicomedes Tolentino ES paints a picture of the flexibility and adaptiveness of the teachers to any situation and of their dedication to do the job that they have sworn to do before the pandemic changed everything.
Photos by Dave Nick Besana
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