How I Became an Adventist Teacher

Teaching can be a low-paying job with long hours and hard labor. And yet …

Herssel Shaira A. Capobres, for Mid-America Union Outlook
How I Became an Adventist Teacher
Herssel Shaira A. Capobres teaches at Maranatha Seventh-day Adventist Christian School in Dodge Center, Minnesota, United States. [Photo: Mid-America Union Outlook]

Teacher lang?” (“Just a teacher?”) That is how my friends in the Philippines commonly reacted whenever we talked about our college plans. “Why do you want to be ‘just’ a teacher?” they would ask with astonishment mixed with dismay.

I come from a family of teachers. My mom, two aunts, and three uncles are teachers. Growing up, our family deeply instilled in us the value of education. I have always loved learning and sharing what I know with others. But being a teacher is very undervalued back home in the Philippines. People perceive it as a low-paid job that requires long hours and hard labor.

Well, they aren’t wrong.

God has an interesting way of calling people to ministry, however. I remember that when I was a little girl, I loved to play teacher with my dolls. When I was nine, the branch Sabbath school leader asked me if I could tell a story to the kids in the community. Oh, how I was so thrilled to say, “Yes!”

Year after year, I grew up being involved in the children’s ministry of our church. As the children’s ministry coordinator, my mom would bring me to her conferences, where I’d hear lectures about ministering to the kids.

Despite all my exposure to children, I have not always intended to study education. During my high school senior year, my friends and I had big college plans. Most of them wanted to study business, law, medicine, and engineering. Little did I know, God had big plans for me too.

In 2013, I took the qualifying exam to study accountancy or journalism at the University of the Philippines — one of the best schools in the country. I prayed to God that if He allowed me to succeed in either of those careers, I would serve him later as a teacher. How practical!

However, God probably found my prayer hilarious. As the Bible says, “Many are the plans in the man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails” (Proverbs 19:21, NKJV). I didn’t go that route because I didn’t pass the University of the Philippines College Admission Test (UPCAT). I was devastated, but not for long. I prayed and reevaluated my motivations. I realized I must put God first in everything I do, even in choosing my profession.

Upon considering my personality, strengths, and deep love for children’s ministry, I was convicted to study education instead. In 2014, I enrolled at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines, a state university in Manila, where I got a full-ride scholarship. However, God convicted me to come up higher.

The summer before I entered college, I read  about Adventist education in the compilation from Ellen G. White’s works called  Messages to Young People. I realized that my secular education wouldn’t be able to provide me with the spiritual training I needed to be a Christian teacher. I prayed a lot and told God I wanted to transfer to study at the Adventist University of the Philippines next semester.

It was a challenging idea at first. Most people who knew me tried to dissuade me from the idea. Not only was it far from home, but the tuition and miscellaneous expenses would cost my family all our arms and legs! I prayed to God that if He wanted me to be an Adventist teacher, He would provide for me to sustain myself and finish my studies in four years.

God was truly faithful because He providentially answered my prayers through a scholarship and sponsors. I also worked on the side to earn my allowance. I finished school in 2018 and passed the licensing exam for teachers that same year.

God fulfilled my covenant to work as an Adventist teacher. In 2019, He led me to work as an 11th- and 12th-grade teacher at Manila Adventist College before I moved to serve as a missionary teacher at Palau Adventist Elementary School in 2022 for a year. 

While I was always open to serving wherever God would call me, I didn’t know that the United States would open its doors for me in 2023. My aunt and uncle (both previous Palau missionaries) got a message from a school board member (another former Palau missionary) at Dodge Center, Minnesota, informing them of an opening for a middle school teacher in their school. 

Not sure how to feel about it, I resolved to check out the opportunity and allow God to navigate the entire process. In my mind, if things panned out well, then I would know that God was giving me a green signal to go. In the end, everything worked out. I interviewed, got my visa two months after processing, and flew to Minnesota with all expenses paid by my new conference. Along the way, God used multiple people to make my move to the U.S. as comfortable as possible.

I now serve as a fifth through eighth-grade teacher at Maranatha Seventh-day Adventist Christian School in Dodge Center, Minnesota. I am happy that I decided to obey God’s calling for me. I got to confirm each step of the way that God paved the way for me to be where I am now. I am joyful to say that the same love I had for teaching when I first got into the profession is still the same love I have for it today.The original version of this profile was posted by the Mid-America Union Outlook.

Herssel Shaira A. Capobres, for Mid-America Union Outlook