A Filipinio teacher finishes her first year at a Baltimore middle school in a Baltimore Sun series.
At the school in the Philippines where Aileen Mercado used to teach, students got dressed up for the last day of classes, which they spent singing and dancing for their parents and celebrating the year’s accomplishments.
At Mercado’s school in Baltimore, there was no such closure.
During the Filipino teacher’s final weeks at Highlandtown Middle School, the children just stopped coming. Some already knew they had failed. Others were tired of sitting in the heat, tired of school in general.
On the fifth-to-last day, only 11 sixth-grade pupils showed up for a language arts class with 37 on the roll. On the second-to-last day, the two kids present helped Mercado pack. On the final day, about a dozen wandered in and out.
Baltimore is hiring several hundred Filipino teachers to teach math, science and special education. Mercado was hired as a special education teacher but spent half the year filling in for a math teacher, who wasn’t allowed in the classroom while a complaint he’d hit a student was investigated. She had 40 regular and special education students in a class, but typically only 30 showed up.