This study explored the meanings held by Filipino immigrant teachers of their experiences as public school teachers in South Texas. A hermeneutic phenomenological approach was used in interviewing seven Filipino immigrant teachers who taught various subjects and grade levels. This qualitative method was useful in understanding subjective experiences, forming insights about individuals’ motivations and actions. The research question asked was: What does it mean to be a Filipino immigrant teacher in a public school in South Texas? After a careful inductive analysis of data collected, it was apparent that they viewed their experiences as an opportunity, challenge, and growth. The participants were selected by snowball sampling. This study contributes to the scant literature about the perceptions of Filipino teachers towards their professional identities and experiences, providing evidence that they have embraced their roles as positive contributors to their school communities. While the findings are not generalizable across the Filipino teacher population working in the United States, the participants’ voices were heard, recorded, and analyzed so that their unique identities, often unnoticed in the literature, may be highlighted.


Filipino Teachers, Immigrant Teachers, Foreign Born Teachers, Hermeneutic Phenomenology, Phenomenology

Author Bio(s)

Dr. Olivia Panganiban Modesto is an Assistant Professor of Teacher and Bilingual Education at Texas A&M University-Kingsville (TAMUK) College of Education and Human Performance. She teaches literacy and bilingual education courses and coordinates the Master of Science in Reading Program. She was born and raised in the Philippines and emigrated to the United States in 2002 to teach English Language Arts and ESL at a large public school district in South Texas. In 2013 she completed her Doctor of Education degree from Walden University, with focus on Teacher Leadership and taught ESOL at Texas Southmost College in 2014. In 2015, she joined TAMUK. Her current research interests include the teaching of qualitative research to preservice teachers and the lived experiences of Filipino immigrant teachers. Please direct correspondence to olivia.modesto@tamuk.edu.


I acknowledge my former department chair at Texas A&M University-Kingsville, Dr. Gerri Maxwell, for her sincere support and for encouraging me to pursue this study.

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