"I f you can read this article, thank a teacher." Who taught you how to read? Who gave you your first good push in school? They are the teachers of your childhood days, right? The first two or three teachers you had in your childhood days are very special, because they gave you your first good start. If they gave you a good start and you learned to read and write and spell, you were on the road to a successful and enjoyable education. There was nothing to stop you.
Twenty-five years ago, the teachers we had in primary school were called "Pupil Teachers". These teachers were so called because they had no formal training when they started. They did not even have a high school diploma. They completed their standard six or grade eight and jumped right into teaching. Of course, these were the smarter ones in the group. The trained principal would recommend one to become a Pupil Teacher.
The Pupil Teacher would then receive classes after school and would sit exams every year. They had to pass a 1st Pupil Teacher exam, a 2nd Pupil Teacher exam and finally a First Class examination which was complete certification. With each pass the teacher would receive an increment or salary raise, No pass meant no increment.
Some of the Pupil Teachers in the 50's and 60's and even in the 70's were Pinita Verde, Bertha Graniel, Nila Muñoz, Marthita Leslie, Eloina Vasquez, Leanor Trejo, Martha Guerrero, Julie Alamilla, George Kumul, Amelia Guerrero Nuñez, Angelita Alamilla, and Mireya Guerrero. Some of these left Pupil Teaching to go to high school. Others left teaching to go to Teachers College and a few became qualified right at the profession. One such renown Pupil Teacher was Marthita Forman Leslie. I was lucky to have her as my teacher in the 1950's. In the early 1980's she was still there in the classrooms and my son Dorian Nuñez was fortunate to have her. By then she was a qualified teacher and her fame in teaching phonics and reading was second to none. There are practically hundreds and hundreds of children who got their first good push from Mrs. Marthita.
In San Pedro there is a lot of love and respect for these "Pupil Teachers". First, because they taught with love, not for the money. Secondly they were respected because they were able to produce good work even if they were not properly qualified.
Pupil teachers were phased out when the government pushed for certification either at high school and later on Teachers College. Pupil Teachers are not encouraged today. However, that is all we had in our days 25 years ago and they certainly did their best and produced good students. This column, "Twenty Five Years Ago," salutes all Pupil Teachers of the past. To all of you, hats off and muchas gracias.