Couple builds school to educate own children
A couple built a private school in the educational hub of a new business district in Capiz province to provide young children in the area, including their own, with better education.
“We want our kids to have good education,” says Michelle Ong, the school directress of Creative, Holistic, Integrated Learning and Development for Students, or simply Child’s Academy, which has a new three-hectare campus at Pueblo de Panay, the emerging central business district in Roxas City, the country’s seafood capital.
Michelle and husband Hannibal Zenon Ong, the vice president for marketing of Blue Chip Builders Inc., have two kids studying at Child’s Academy, with ages six and four.
“Right now, we have 104 students at Child’s. We have two kids also studying at Child’s. In fact, there are eight kids from the Ong family who are studying at Child’s,” Michelle says in an interview.
The Ong family runs one of the largest conglomerates in Northern Panay – the Sacred Heart of Jesus Prime Holdings Inc., which developed Pueblo de Panay. Blue Chip Builders is the construction arm of the group.
Child’s Academy has air-conditioned classrooms in a green setting, low teacher-student ratio and safe and fun playground. The campus has a waiting area for caregivers and deploys school buses to transport students.
Michelle says Child’s Academy hones the skills of every student. “All students are talented. They just excel in different areas or fields. I feel like it is my responsibility to say it to every kid,” she says.
Michelle, a licensed nurse, with a Master’s Degree in Psychology from Ateneo de Manila University, discovered her love for teaching when she taught part-time in a pre-school in Metro Manila.
“It was the only job that made me look forward to Mondays. On Sundays, I was excited to see the kids the next day. So, I realized my direction was in teaching. I was still taking up my Master’s in Psychology at Ateneo de Manila when life happened. I met him and we got married in 2007,” says Michelle, pointing to Hannibal.
“We got to talking and I told him it was my true love. Actually, I took up nursing. I am a licensed nurse. My plans to go abroad did not materialize. I volunteered for a few months as a nurse, but it was not my love. It was a second course. My first course is Psychology,” she says.
Hannibal did not only support Michelle’s passion for teaching, he also encouraged her to build a school. “Basically, it was he who encouraged, and then we told a few friends who got excited and they sent 15 of their kids to form our school,” says Michelle, in narrating how Child’s Academy began as a school with 15 students in June 2010.
The school inaugurated a three-hectare campus in January 2015, becoming one of the first two tenants at the educational zone of Pueblo de Panay. An extension of UP Visayas started offering classes for Master of Management courses in the same area in 2014.
Child’s Academy offers pre-school and elementary school classes. “It is conducive for learning and safe. It is close to the mountains, surrounded by nature,” says Michelle.
The three-hectare campus has four buildings with a total of nine classrooms and 10 bathrooms. It even has its own football field.
“My dream really is to make it an international school later. That’s my real dream,” says Michelle.
“I have attended a seminar for international school accreditation. It is really good. You have to be accredited by a body to be an international school,” she says.
She says Child’s Academy introduces a more progressive education system, which is student-centered and more experiential and interactive, requiring students to have more field studies and develop in-depth appreciation for learning.
“We believe the way children are taught in school should also change and adapt to the times,” says Michelle. “We always find a way to achieve a healthy balance between study and play, especially for our pre-schoolers where playtime, outdoor activities, and other natural forms of play are interjected in the curriculum.”
Michelle says Child’s Academy takes pride in the quality of its teachers, the safety and security of its campus, and proximity to nature.
She says the school allots a regular budget for teachers’ regular trainings to make sure their skills are up-to-date.
Child’s Academy currently employs 22 teachers. “We have a very low teacher-student ratio of 1 is to 10. I consistently send them to train in Manila during summer. I send them to UP, where they are equipped with skills,” she says.
Among the teaching staff is a graduate of UP Diliman who relocated to Capiz.
Michelle says despite the high-quality education provided by the school, tuition remains affordable at P2,500 a month. Aside from the regular school curriculum, the school offers summer programs such as voice lessons.
“We plan to organize various school clubs such as book club, glee club, taekwondo and soccer clubs,” she says. “We want students to discover the joy of learning.”
Michelle says profit is never the motivation for running the school. “I’m not in it for the business. As a mother, I am doing it also for them. And I feel like my kids can learn so much more,” she says.