Childlink: A school of character

Childlink Learning Center is the first “school of character” in the Visayas and Mindanao. It opened its doors as Childlink Playschool in 1997. Its founder is Maria Theresa Fong Tio, who holds a Nursing degree and a Masters in Education degree, Major in Pre-Elementary Education from the Cebu Normal University. She is currently completing a Doctoral degree in Education, Major in Educational Management.

SunStar LIVE! interviewed Tio to find out more about what a “school of character” is all about.

SunStar LIVE! (SSL): “You finished a nursing course. What made you shift to education?”

Maria Theresa Fong Tio (MTFT): “Nursing is a very versatile course. There is nursing in hospitals and other health care facilities, nursing in industries and nursing in education. I would have wanted to practice my profession as a teacher for nursing students after I got married but I prioritized taking care of my children on my own. While I was taking care of my growing children, I truly enjoyed teaching them and the great leap in the development of my own children inspired me to extend my teaching to other children.

When I decided to open Childlink in 1997, I only envisioned the school as a school for toddlers. Little did I imagine that after five years since I opened the school, I would be offering the elementary course. I only opened one grade level at a time until I completed the high school grade levels. This way, it allowed me to give focus on the curriculum that we offered to the growing students.”

SSL: “What is your curriculum that makes your school a ‘School of Character,’ that makes it different from practically all other schools?”

MTFT: Childlink is a ‘School of Character.’ Much focus is put in embedding character education in every subject. Every month, there is a focused universal value that we teach and efforts to incorporate and inculcate this universal value in every subject is the objective of every teacher. Every aspect of the activities that we do is also entwined in the monthly value. By doing so, students are able to understand and put to practice the values taught in the school, in their family and in their community life.

SSL: “You have placed importance on music and performance. Why is that?”

MTFT: “Music and performance give color to the students’ life here in Childlink. Music and performance teach students a lot of values such as discipline, patience and love and appreciation for the many things around us.

When I founded Childlink, I really wanted music and performance to be part of all my students’ life because music to me is a source of inspiration, motivation and even healing in times of happiness, sadness and when dealing with multifarious challenges that I have faced in every stage of my adult life. Because of this, I would want my students not just to appreciate music but mUSIC to be touched, music to be experienced, and music to be performed.

Music and performance give us a profound feeling of accomplishment and help us develop confidence, which is most needed for anyone to be able to deal with others.”

SSL: “In this second year of the pandemic, you expect to have your annual music performance. How will the performance be considering that presentation of performances face-to-face is not allowed?”

MTFT: “This year, our musical performance entitled ‘Heartstrings: A Celebration of Music’ will be performed virtually. This performance will be on May 15, Saturday at 7:30 p.m. via Facebook Live. This musical performance will feature our Childlink Rondalla with the special participation of our Childlink Choir and performances from some of our students in the elementary.

SSD: “Schools often grow eventually to offer college degree courses. Do you envision that?”

MTFT: “Opening a college is a very great challenge already, which I think I cannot do on my own. Putting up a school entails a very big investment. Having to build a school with excellence in all aspects as its mission is in itself a big personal investment. This is a dream for me but will probably remain such until I find a silver lining that will answer to the great challenge that schools are facing now more than ever most especially at this time of pandemic.”

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