Cerise Santoro was an English Language Fellow in the Philippines from 2015 to 2016 at the University of Saint Louis Tuguegarao. She used technology to create professional development opportunities for local teachers, all while developing her own professional and personal skills.
In the Philippines, Cerise created two professional development programs for teachers using MOOCs and webinars. “I integrated the first online course MOOC camp and webinar professional development series at my university and introduced it to administrators. A year later the teachers and administrators are still taking MOOCs and holding MOOC camps for professional development purposes.”
The MOOC Cerise introduced to pre-service and in-service teachers was called the Art of Poetry. “Since then numerous MOOCs have been held for professional development of teachers at my host institution and teachers have also told me they are using other MOOCs independently to learn more languages. It opened up doors to learning even beyond professional development programs, and teachers are using them for independent and personal growth,” Cerise said.
Cerise is now a full-time ESL teacher at the Cal Poly English Language Institute at California State Polytechnic University. Cerise says the fellowship helped transform her professional trajectory. “I went from being a part-time educator to a full-time educator with administrative duties as a lead teacher. Being a Fellow was the best life changing decision I made as an educator. I have also become an advocate for ESL students by being on the Board of Directors of CATESOL.”
As a Fellow, Cerise loved facilitating workshops and participating in multi-day conferences. She also had the opportunity to write and publish her own work. During her fellowship, Cerise met Edgar Manaran, a teacher at Maniki Central Elementary School Special Education Center. Cerise wrote an article about Manaran that she submitted to the U.S. Department of State’s English Teaching Forum, a free quarterly magazine that provides resources for English teachers worldwide. Her article was accepted and published as a “My Classroom” feature.
Cerise’s fellowship in the Philippines “increased my gratitude. I am thankful for the smallest gestures. I do not take anything for granted personally or professionally. I learned this from the culture of my host country.”