SAN MATEO, CA — It is in this room where Ligaya Avenida and her team sort out countless applications from Filipino educators hoping to teach in the US.
Avenida — who was once a teacher in the Philippines — before immigrating to the US, now working as a teacher and administrator for San Francisco public schools — has been recruiting Filipino teachers for schools throughout the US for the past 19 years.
“Having graduated from the Philippines, I know that we have many more candidates. I know exactly we have very good teacher training institutions,” she says.
Avenida says she holds informational seminars two to three times a year in the Philippines.
“Out of that, you have a cohort of about 500 people who come to the seminar. Then I said at the end of this day, if you’re still interested after hearing what I have and I tell them the bad things and the good things then I’ll take resumes.”
Avenida has put teachers in California, North Dakota, Virginia, Washington state, Texas, even in American Indian reservations in Arizona.
For the thousands of Filipino teachers Avenida put to work in the US, for many of them, she also put them on a path of citizenship.
“The people that I have brought over several years ago majority of them are citizens already.”
Other than recruiting, Avenida also coaches these teachers to be ready for a culture shock when they find themselves in front of American students.
“I said you have some very good things going for you, keep them. But you also need to learn how to shift. Shift to what is applicable, and you have to go with the mainstream because that’s how you survive.”
Recently, Avenida said she helped recruit over 200 teachers from the Philippines for this school year — which is up from about 160 from last year and 120 from the year before.
“I think the conclusion you can get is that our teachers is just as good, if not sometimes better.”