ESS-South Welcomes its New Principal
Dr. Roland Niño Agoncillo, also known as “Doc Onin,” assumed the role of principal at Elizabeth Seton School-South (ESS-South) for the Academic Year 2022–2023. As we turn a new chapter, I am filled with anticipation for the future goals of the school. Who better to ask about the plans for the future than our new principal?
Having a new campus head, I wondered what prompted him to join the ESS community and what his ideal educational institution looks like. According to Doc Onin, he describes his ideal educational institution as one where “stakeholders share a common vision and mission.” This is crucial because this is where the school’s foundational steps towards its goals are placed upon. He emphasizes that these goals set forth the values and pedagogical standards that each member of the school community must live by. This is what made him join the ESS community. “The school has a clear Vision and Mission from which the Setonian Pedagogical Framework was based,” said Doc Onin. The ESS core values are faith, love, and selfless service, and he clearly saw students, teachers, and staff practice these values. He stated that as educational partners, whether you are a student, a teacher or staff, an alumnus, or parent, we are all called to selfless service. “This is what moved me to be part of the ESS community, I was given the opportunity to respond to that call and share in the mission of putting others first and rather than self,” stated the principal.
The role of a principal entails great responsibility. As the head of the school, there are many things to attend to since everything will be on your shoulders. Of course, there are still various sections within the faculty that can assist with these duties. Knowing how stressed we get as students with massive workloads of assignments, exams, events, and performance tasks; I wonder how a principal, who has three times the workload, handles them. We asked Doc Onin for the ways on how he deals with these responsibilities and what advice he has for us students on how to handle them effectively. “To handle responsibilities for me is to be always ‘purpose-driven.’ Why am I here in school? For what purpose am I here?” he explained. He also stated that this is the basic tip he can give to students. “To be able to handle responsibilities, know your purpose. The rest of the answer will be up to you as you reflect and discover in life the true meaning of the word ‘malasakit’ [for] a purpose-driven life,” he added. He also mentioned that “any position whether big or small entails a responsibility.” This means that regardless of where we are or what role we play in society, we all have a responsibility to uphold in this community.
Faculty and staff collaborate in school to create a positive learning environment. Every day, teachers, guards, school bus drivers, janitors, and others work hard to ensure that we can be safe and feel comfortable while learning on school grounds. But what steps do we take to be able to recognize their individual contributions? What does the principal do in order to recognize these hardworking individuals? Simple gestures of kindness and gratitude are the steps Doc Onin takes towards recognizing the work done by various members of the ESS community. This means giving simple remarks, such as “good job,” “very good,” and “thank you for all your hard work,” is a very important gesture to him when it comes to showing appreciation. His goal is to make this a habit in order to inspire more people to aspire rather than to be recognized. For him it is important “not just to be acknowledged as an individual but as a community that makes a difference to our learners.” And so, he always reminds us to “always be grateful for one another.”
The last question that I asked Doc Onin was about the future plans he has for the school that he would like to share. He assured that the future plans for the school will pave a bright future ahead. He mentioned that under the leadership of our School President Dr. Roberto T. Borromeo, they have already set the direction for the next five years with the assistant principals and subject area coordinators, together with all the directors and service units. “…it is now a concerted effort of all anchored on the strategic directions set towards the achievement of our goals written in the strategic plan of the school. This for me is the essence of what we do in school, to share the future with everyone by undergoing a process of seeing first where we are right now and be contributory to what we envision ourselves to be as an educational institution and go beyond boundaries for educational excellence,” he explained.
It is evident how much our principal cares and helps our school continue to grow and thrive. However, in order for us to achieve a positive school community, each of us must complete our tasks. We students also have responsibilities, whether it be through respecting our teachers and school staff, turning in assignments on time, or practicing CLAYGO (Clean As You Go). As Setonians, we are responsible for upholding our vision-mission and core values of faith, love, and selfless service. As Doc Onin said, “Whether you are a student, a teacher or staff, an [alumnus] or a parent, we are all called to selfless service.”