Poly lecturer touched by students' surprise gesture, which made him 'want to cry'

Screengrab of Mr Rick Low's (top left) online class with Republic Polytechnic students on Aug 13, where his students flashed thank-you notes. PHOTO: MICOLEL/TIKTOK

SINGAPORE - Adjunct lecturer Rick Low's students had not switched on their cameras during their online lessons for 13 weeks throughout the semester.

But they finally showed their faces on the last lesson on Aug 13 - all for a sweet surprise for Teachers' Day.

The moment, which was recorded and posted on TikTok, has garnered more than 19,000 views and 870 shares. The video starts off with one of his students at Republic Polytechnic (RP) saying they had planned a surprise for him.

Then, one by one, they switched on their cameras before flashing thank-you signs. Some were handwritten on paper while others were displayed on smartphones and tablets.

Mr Low was visibly touched and said the tribute made him "want to cry". He said he enjoyed teaching the class and thanked the students for a good time. The video ended with a thumbs up from him.

Mr Low, who teaches at RP's School of Hospitality, told The Straits Times that he did not expect the show of gratitude and was surprised when his students suddenly switched on their cameras.

Says the 58-year-old: "Students generally would just say 'thank you'. I was a little overwhelmed when they displayed their thank-you notes. It was a heartwarming and touching gesture."

The classes during the 13 weeks were a mix of in-person lessons and home-based ones. During home-based learning, students turn on their video cameras when needed, such as when they ask questions or answer them.

Mr Low joined RP in 2008 as a senior lecturer, before becoming an adjunct lecturer in 2017. He teaches hotel and hospitality management modules, as well as tourism-related subjects.

Mr Low enjoys interacting with students and watching them develop their skills. "Being able to help shape them to think independently, sharing my knowledge and my past work experience with them makes it a meaningful experience for me," he adds.

Some of his former students also commented on the TikTok video, showering him with praise.

Mr Rick Low joined RP in 2008 as a senior lecturer, before becoming an adjunct lecturer in 2017. PHOTO: COURTESY OF RICK LOW

A user named glennis said he was a "fun and friendly lecturer". Another user, shaqilla, said he was the "sweetest" facilitator during her time in school.

Mr Low says it is a "priceless feeling" when former students approach him on the streets.

"They come up to me and thank me for teaching them, telling me that they had enjoyed lessons and missed attending them. It also makes my day to see them progress in their careers and life."

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