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  • Torch of Life Academy: Small Class Sizes And A Supportive Learning Environment

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    Torch of Life Academy (TLA) is an inclusive school in Sikatuna Village that has been in existence for 15 years.  The school features academic programs from the preschool to High School level.  To augment the regular educational school program, they have a SPED program called TLA T.E.A.C.H.  The acronym stands for Teach, Enable, Adapt, Care, Hope.  These values guide the provision of services to students diagnosed with learning difficulties or autism in a learning environment that is supportive and cater to their specific needs.


    TLA’s guidelines for those with special needs are the following:

    1. inclusion where the needs of the students are answered within the regular school program, and they enjoy the company and support of their peers;
    2. pull-out sessions – usually in Math and English, where the students are provided Individualized Educational Plans (IEP);
    3. the presence of shadow teachers who ensure that students who need extra guidance are on-track; and
    4. a special education track which allows students under the SPED program a different grading standard.


    Small Class Sizes, Supportive Learning Environment
    The TLA administrators strive to keep a small class size since this translates to a more ideal student to teacher ratio.  By having this luxury, the supportive learning environment it aims to promote is actualized.  Aside from the low teacher to student ratio, all their SPED facilitators are SPED majors from the University of the Philippines - Diliman.  Upon inquiry about the availability of therapists from the allied medical professions (that is, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech and language pathology, speech therapy, and the like) in their school, Teacher Vivian replied that they did not have any in the school, however, students who need their services are referred to nearby clinics, Healing Touch and Readability.

    The success of TLA T.E.A.C.H. can be seen in the improved academic performance, enhanced self-confidence, and active participation in school activities of students with special needs.

    Love, Support and Encouragement
    When asked for her general advice to parents of children with special needs, Teacher Vivian answers, “Early intervention is the key. Once your child's teacher notices irregularities (red flags) then it is best for the parents to explore the reasons behind it. We always try to find ways to correct, let say a certain type of behavior or develop the skills which would help them to become achievers.  Children with special needs are just like any other children...they need our love, support and a lot of encouragement.”

    About The Author:
    Frances Mijares-Magtoto has a Master’s Degree in Education from Ateneo de Manila University and is a candidate for a Ph.D. at U.P. Diliman. On days when she is not with her husband and toddler, she can be found at the Graduate School of St. Joseph’s College teaching Special Education majors, or at UP finishing her dissertation.

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    Vivian Bulaon-Santos, Directress for Academic Affairs
    Torch of Life Academy
    28 Malumanay Street Sikatuna Village, QC
    4333223 / 9203825

    Photo from: Figure 2 of: Powell K (2004). "Opening a window to the autistic brain". PLoS Biol 2 (8): E267. DOI:10.1371/journal.pbio.0020267. PMID 15314667. PMC:509312.

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