Anton Taruc, ACE 18, answers questions about his background, his inspiration, and his commitment to Catholic education.
What is your background—degree and experience of education—and your current position with the Alliance for Catholic Education?
I was born in the Bay Area but grew up in Bacolod City, Philippines. I moved back to the Bay Area for college: Saint Mary's College of California. I also spent a semester studying abroad at Oxford University. During my undergraduate years, I was an aspirant to be a brother with the De La Salle Christian Brothers. As I discerned my calling to enter the religious life, I had many opportunities to engage in service—most of which involved education. I was able to spend 2 summers teaching and living in community with minors in conflict with the law back in the Philippines. This experience allowed me to see the power of an education that took into account the real life needs of students. While I ended up not becoming a brother, the formation I received as an aspirant—with its focus on faith, service, and community—gave me a strong foundation for what I would do next.
After college, I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Northeastern Thailand. I worked closely with the Thai Ministry of Education to develop programs that would help teachers in local villages apply student centered instruction. After my 2 years of Peace Corps service, I stayed on for another 2 and a half teaching English, Math, and Science. I was also able to spend some time working closely with a Master Teacher from the International School of Bangkok. All of these experiences gave me a wonderful vision of what good teaching instruction looks like and I've been blessed to take them into my 5th grade classroom in Compton, California.
One of the most important lessons I received before ACE was that teaching is a craft that has no ceiling. I've been fortunate to have had so much time to think and reflect about my beliefs and attitudes towards the craft of teaching (as well as being exposed to excellent examples of quality teachers) and I'm enjoying the process of developing this craft through the work I do in Compton.
What inspired your interest in Catholic education?
My desire to work with Catholic Education stems from my experience with the La Sallian tradition and the words, "Enter to Learn, Leave to Serve." These words are my slogan for every new endeavor. ACE is providing me with the right kind of formation to be the teacher I envision myself to be: a teacher led by faith; a teacher motivated by a desire to be of service to others; and a teacher who draws strength and energy from community.
How has your experience in ACE shaped your vision of education?
In ACE, I have countless opportunities to reflect on the difference between a job and a ministry. Through ACE, I've learned that at the heart of teaching is a desire to answer a special call. This call is often challenging, sometimes painful and always meaningful. My daily prayer is that all educators realize how fortunate we are to be involved in a vocation that is much more akin to a ministry than it is to a job. This is perhaps best expressed through one of my favorite poems:
Some people have a job in the church.
Others invite themselves into a ministry.
What's the difference you ask?
If you are doing it just because no one else will, it's a job.
If you are doing it to serve the Lord, it's a ministry.
If you quit because someone criticized you, it's a job.
If you keep on serving, it's a ministry.
If you'll do it as long as it does not interfere with your other activities, it's a job.
If you are committed to staying even if it means letting go of other things, it's a ministry.
If you quit because no one thanked you or praised you, it's a job.
If you stick with it even though no one recognized your efforts, it's a ministry.
It's hard to get excited about a job.
It's almost impossible not to get excited about a ministry.
If your concern is success, it's a job.
If your concern is faithfulness and service, it's a ministry.
If God calls you to a ministry, don't treat it like a job!
"It's hard to get excited about a job/ It's almost impossible not to get excited about a ministry"—how wonderful it would be if every teacher carried this in his/her heart. ACE has taught me that it is possible to view teaching as a ministry. My vision is that through our actions and the training we receive from ACE, we ACE teachers can inspire other teachers (be they neophytes such as ourselves or experienced veterans) to view teaching as a ministry.