With some encouragement from fellow Filipino teacher, Mary Eme Manda, Irish Rosales decided to embark on a new career adventure, that of leaving the Philippines to teach Special Education at Shelby Junior High and High School. Rosales started in her new position on March 11.

Starting a new job can be a bit nerve-racking, starting a new job as a teacher, halfway through second semester, in a new country, would be unimaginable for most, but not for Irish Rosales. Shelby’s newest teacher arrived last month from the Philippines to fill the Special Education vacancy in the junior high and high school.

“My friend, Mary Eme Manda, recommended that I apply for the position here,” smiled Rosales. “She has been selling Montana to me and then told me there was a Special Education position open. When I researched Montana it was very impressive. I love nature and what Montana has to offer. I want to raise my family here, simple living, there’s serenity here.”

 Rosales traveled to Montana with Matilde Sanchez, a fellow Filipina teacher embarking on a new adventure in Cut Bank. She left her children, ages 10 and five, at home in the Philippines with her mom and sister, but plans on them joining her in Montana later this summer and attending school here in the fall.

“My children are still there with my mother and sister, but we stay in touch with Skype and messenger,” said Rosales. “I’m preparing them with pictures and videos as things here are a lot different than what you see on YouTube. I chose to come alone at first, to get settled and get prepared for them.”

Life is a lot different for Rosales here than it was in the Philippines. Coming from a big family, which she is really missing, and being on her own has been one of her greatest challenges. She has made some great friends with some of the staff at the school and has found a church she greatly enjoys. It has also given her time to focus on herself.

“Being alone in the apartment after school, going home to an empty apartment, that has been hard,” she said. “But it’s also been good, I’ve become more independent and am learning to balance my time. I ask myself why I am doing this. The answer, for my family and for myself.”

Rosales has also met a lot of Shelby’s Filipino community, which has helped with adjusting to her new home, as has the First Baptist Church congregation and Pastor Chad Scarborough. She is grateful for the people who have been helping make her transition easier, whether it’s been through helping her with paperwork or just getting to know different students. 

“The community has been really helping me out, they set up my apartment and helped get the stuff I needed,” said Rosales gratefully. “Everyone has been really helping me, making things ok for me to be here. It’s been a big impact on me, they welcome so much and care about me.”

One of the biggest differences Rosales has experienced in teaching here compared to the Philippines are the students themselves. In the Philippines the level of respect given to teachers and adults by the students is much more prevalent than it is in the United States. Adjusting to a louder and bit more chaotic atmosphere is taking time, but she is getting more used to it.

“The kids are different,” said Rosales. “Kids in the Philippines are very kind, respectful and consistent. The kids here are more outspoken, more distracted. I love my students, they are a part of my journey. I want to work with them, I want to make sure they let me know if they need help with assignments and other things. I also do the RECCs program, the kids are so wonderful!”

The teaching position at Shelby was not the first job in the States that Rosales applied for. Her first application was for a teaching job in Chicago, a position she was still being considered for when she came here. 

“I have no regrets,” she smiled.

Rosales is looking forward to a lot in this new chapter of her life, exploring the area, meeting new people and trying new things.

“It’s on my bucket list to ride Amtrak,” she smiled. “I’m looking forward to exploring more, in Montana and other states, doing some hiking. I love nature, I already loved it before I got here. I’d rather play at lakes tan in pools. I’m looking forward to exploring more and trying new things.”

Trying new things also includes food. So far Rosales has tried hamburgers, pasta, pizza, salads, tacos and French fries. She has had fries before, but not the bigger French fries that she has found here. She loves the fruits and vegetables and shared she is really looking forward to trying steak for the first time.

“I am really looking forward to trying steak,” she said with a smile. “I’m looking forward to eating at the Frontier. Most of all I’m looking forward to staying longer to work in Shelby, to work with people, become a better teacher, to be active in the community, the church and to give back. I can visualize my life in Shelby, with my two kids, all of us together, already.”

Rosales is looking forward to the future and what it holds for her and her children in what is becoming her “home away from home,” and is excited to take advantage of different trainings for career development. Only second to being “mom,” teaching is something Rosales clearly loves.

“The most fulfilling part as a teacher is being able to give the goal for students to work, work well and stay focused,” she concluded. “When they pat my back and say ‘Miss Irish, you’re the best,’ the appreciation part, that touches my heart.”

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