Bryant Acar, is a science teacher of 16-18 year-old-students at the Science and Technology Education Center - Senior High School (STEC-SHS), Basak, Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu, Philippines. It is a public school which he joined in 2016 having quit a comfortable university teaching post as he was searching for greater purpose and came to realize it would be through teaching deserving students from poor backgrounds. He has to travel over 16 kilometers a day to arrive at his school at 6am, and when he first arrived his only facilities were a storage room, a canteen and a small dressing room behind a performance stage to hold classes. The school is next to an airport and the constant noise of jets taking off and landing means lessons being frequently paused, as it is impossible to hear. The school had no laboratory facilities when he arrived, so he saved five-months’ salary to buy two electric microscopes for his class and asked friends to donate a projector, books and a laptop.
Training his senior high school students 4-6 hours a week in between lessons and on Saturdays, linking up with universities so he could use their facilities to test his students’ samples and perform experiments, he honed his classes’ skills so they could compete and succeed at science fair contests, which they have gone on to win locally and internationally. A win at the National Innovation Contest and Exhibit 2020 organised by the Department of Science and Technology secured a 100 thousand pesos prize which is putting a student through college. Bryant was acclaimed 2nd best placed science teacher in Southeast Asia at the SEAMEO QITEP in Bali in 2018, opening doors for him to be a science trainer at school, divisional and regional levels.
Bryant created his own teaching modules, textbooks, worksheets and learning resources, now replicated by 10 neighbouring senior highs, and his advocacy of “Learning-By-Doing” and “Hands-on-Experience” sees projects and research contextualised to his students’ community needs. They interview local people and survey an issue to come up with solutions, which have included Arduino-based innovations that could detect fire, flooding or theft; making seaweeds into biogradable plastic and creating a learning app. These all build his students’ 21st century skills of critical thinking, collaboration, communication and creativity, their global citizenship further developed by his collaborating with industry and companies to ensure his students get work-experience and enabling them to take part in virtual talks with other teachers, students and parents with professionals from other countries.
As well as many teaching awards in the Philippines, his international credits include Outstanding Educator at the INCEED and SPACE International held in Thailand in February 2020, all of which led to his city’s mayor giving him a special citation in January 2021 for outstanding contributions to education. During the Covid-19 pandemic he provided facilities and training for all his school’s teachers in the use of Google Meet and Google Classrooms to take teaching online during the lockdown. He also ensured any students without home computers were supplied with a tablet by the school.