“Consider every opportunity and every single day as a blessing and make sure that you share these blessings with the rest of the world.” – Jen Padernal
It never occurred to Ms. Jenielyn “Jen” Espineli-Padernal that her name would one day be synonymous with education and technology. She never even expected that she would be receiving a string of awards from prestigious organizations here and abroad… all for being a world-class educator.
Two months after graduating at De La Salle University – Dasmarinas (DLSUD) in 1998 with a degree in Computer Science, Jen got hired as secretary of the College of Business Administration and Accountancy. She happily served as secretary for 11 years while doing volunteer work as teacher for the Balik-Aral program (back-to-school) designed for those wanting to finish high school. This event in her life led her to decide to become an educator.
Her husband, Richard Padernal, a cinematographer and also an educator, meanwhile, kept pushing her to pursue graduate studies. His persistence paid off when in 2008 Jen decided to take her Masters in Management at the Technological University of the Philippines. After finishing her MA in 2010, Jen asked to be transferred so she could be able to teach. From then on she began teaching Technology Application in Business, Introduction to Internet, Web Design and other business subjects. She made it a point to always incorporate technology in her subjects to expose her students to technology so that when they graduate, they will be work-ready.
Awards and Achievements
Opportunities started opening up for her. When the Center for Innovative Learning Programs (CILP) at DLSUD was created, Jen volunteered to help Ms. Arlene Awayan from the Marketing Department in the CILP startup as Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) Coordinator. After mentoring her, Ms. Awayan later on gave her the chance to become the director of CILP tasked to manage the learning environment of the whole university (which eventually became a Microsoft Showcase School).
In 2013, Microsoft made her one of the Microsoft Education Ambassadors in the country. A year after, she was chosen as one of the Microsoft Innovative Educator (MIE) experts around the globe. Her remarkable story as an educator was featured in the worldwide online magazine of Microsoft. In 2015, she represented the Philippines in the Microsoft Global Educator Forum in Seattle, Washington in the US. And in 2017, she traveled to Sydney, Australia for a speaking engagement involving EduTech.
Instrumental to Her Success
She considers her husband, Richard, as the number one reason for her continued success saying, “He is my voice of reason and my greatest adviser.” Jen also considers her family and friends and the people she met in her life journey as instrumental to her triumphs and achievements.
An Educator By Heart
As of this writing, Jen took an industry leave from DLSUD to become a part of Cypher Learning, an E-learning company based in the United States. The job offer came when she was in Australia to become the director of E-learning integration for their worldwide operations. Cypher Learning provides learning management solutions to schools. Their products include Neo and Matrix Learning Management System (LMS). Jen accepted the job mainly for the learning experience she will be gaining from it which she will in turn share to teachers/educators and students at DLSUD and other private and public schools.
“Everytime I get invited to become a speaker or I get an opportunity to attend a workshop/training/seminar here and abroad, I make sure when I come back, I share everything to the community kasi ang principle ko, when I get to be given a chance to learn I have to be able to transfer that learning to other people, it’s like paying it forward kasi wala naman tayong monopoly of knowledge, it’s always important to be able to share to other people what has been shared to you,” she said.
Even though, Jen is on leave, she is still doing volunteer work serving as teacher in the “free night college” of DLSUD every Friday.
More Volunteer Work
Jen could still manage to squeeze in time for those who need her expertise… for free. “Whenever I get invitations from public schools for talks and trainings, I don’t say no as long as it would fit my schedule,” she confided.
And as long as she could remember she hasn’t rejected any invitation from those needing training. She said that she does not care about the training venue, whether it be in a covered court under the searing heat of the sun. Jen narrated about this experience wherein public school teachers invited her to teach them so they could use technology in the classroom. She said that these teachers carried with them tablets given to them by a certain governor. They used the covered court since their laboratory was still under construction. Fifty teachers went in the morning and another 50 in the afternoon. Jen was touched by the willingness of these teachers to learn. “If I get to see one or two teachers willing to learn malaking bagay na po ‘yun sa akin, ginaganahan na akong magturo. I will do whatever I can, to share what I have, what I know to these teachers, especially public schools,” she revealed.
Then she added, “Ang sinasabi ko sa kanila, they don’t have to pay me, they don’t even need to cover for my expenses, whether that’s gas or transportation, basta sinasabi ko sa kanila, siguraduhin n’yo lang na may tao, na may a-attend para di masayang ang time natin. So mas maraming teachers, mas masaya. I intend to continue that as long as there are public schools willing to invite me.”
Jen also volunteered to teach the Dumagats in Antipolo. She’s just waiting for the feedback. The work would involve walking half a day and staying overnight in order to be able to teach them.
What she wants to do is to reach out to the teachers and students in the remotest areas so she could introduce the use of technology in education. She mentioned that there are more teachers out there who should be hailed as heroes for braving danger and the elements just to teach students in far-flung areas.
Technology and the Elderly
When asked about technology for the elderly, Jen has this to say, “May nagsasabi pa-retire na ako, why do I need to learn how to use technology? Yung technology kasi parang love, age does not matter. Walang pinipiling edad ang paggamit ng technnology.”
A perfect example of this was her 74-year old grandma who learned how to use the atari and family computer.” Tinuruan namin siya by experiment. Grade 2 lang tinapos ng lola ko, hindi siya gaanong magaling magbasa pero pinapanood niya, English movies. Nagkaroon siya ng atari pati family computer. Siya naglalaro the entire day pati sa gabi, tapos kami nakapila, kaya nagpabili kami sa kanya ng isa pa para magamit namin, share-share. Matagal maubos lives niya. Madaling araw naglalaro pa rin siya ng Bomber Man, Super Mario, Wrecking Crew.”
“Mindset lang iyan. Kapag inisip mo na matanda ka na to learn how to use technology, hindi ka talaga matuto. Ganun din naman sa mga bata. May mga batang ayaw ng technology, it’s because they don’t like it, di nila feel.”
This means that age should not be a hindrance when it comes to the use of technology. She mentioned that in other countries, there is no age limit when it comes to work, same with technology, there’s no age limit to it. According to her, the elderly could use technology (such as computer games and other memory games) as recreation, especially when they are nearing retirement. They could also use it to stimulate the brain so as to prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Her Greatest Ambition
She can’t really say that she has something like the greatest ambition in life, at least not for herself. Living one day at a time, she takes opportunities as they come knocking at her door. “I consider every opportunity as a blessing. But my greatest dream probably is for every child to be given an opportunity to have an access to education. And I guess we all know it has not happened yet,” she lamented.
Advice to Millennials and Non-millennials
This 40-year old lass from Indang, Cavite has this to say for everyone, “Huwag maging mayabang. Keep your feet on the ground. Have respect for everything and everyone at all times. Learn from people who have more wisdom than you.” Check out the video below for more.