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Ryan Bestre: My Hour With Wendy Kopp

Welcome to Experiences, the official Teach for the Philippines blog! Experiences serves as a journal, a safe space for reflection, for our Fellows and for the members of the Teach for the Philippines team and family. We hope that through sharing our Experiences, we will be able to give you a clearer perspective of our insights, our realizations, and our motivations as we set out to leave our mark on our country.

Last week, we were very fortunate to have Teach For All CEO and co-founder Wendy Kopp with us for a brief yet fruitful stay in the Philippines. Through her two-day visit, she shared with us her invaluable expertise about the Teach For model and her experiences since founding Teach For America in 1989. 

For the first batch of Experiences to be featured, we have asked different members of the 2013 Cohort, our Training and Support team, and members of our team in the headquarters (HQ) to share something about the time they have spent with Wendy Kopp during her stay in Manila. This series will be entitled, My Hour With Wendy Kopp.

This Experience was submitted by one of the members of our 2013 Cohort, Ryan Anthony Bestre.


Wendy Kopp came into the room and we all fell silent. We were with the “mother” of Teach for America (TFA) and Teach For All. That rightfully requires a sense of awe. After brief introductions and pleasantries we immediately got busy with questions and answers. I felt kind of sorry for Wendy, jet lagged and all, but diving right into action.


Ryan asks Wendy Kopp a question.
Ryan asks Wendy Kopp a question.
Queries were mostly on criticisms about TFA and Wendy admitted that the model doesn’t make sense. But it does make sense. It’s a step closer to solving problems we are faced with. The results may not be immediate and it may not even be measured but the ripple effect definitely comes into play. The program trains leaders. The leaders teach and influence their students to be future leaders. After the program, the teachers continue leading in their respective fields they’ve chosen. Come to think of it, it’s a brilliant model!
Wendy likened us to the first cohort of TFA. Beaming with idealism, ready to take on the world! I did feel that before the summer school. With our big goal stating that all our students will pass with a score or grade of 75%. Bring it on! Heck, let’s make that 80%! We should have high expectations. And once we were inside the classroom, reality slapped us in the face as we realized the challenges we would be encountering. These challenges include dealing with emerging readers, parents who may not as invested in their kid’s education as you would like them to be, and issues with bureaucracy.
After our dialogue with Wendy, I got to appreciate being part of Teach for the Philippines more. I was reminded that I can only do so much but I can actually do something. I’m inspired and a bit wary but I’m ready to take on the challenge!

Ryan Anthony Bestre, 29, is currently finishing his Master’s Degree in Management from the University of the Philippines-Baguio. He took his undergraduate studies in Benguet State University and graduated cum laude in 2005 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science. His interests include learning about cultures and the performing arts and he plans to incorporate his passion for his interests into his classroom routine.