10 receive Caring Teacher honours

When teacher Sharon Choo-Tan Su Cheng faced problems getting an autistic Primary 3 pupil to pay attention in class, she consulted colleagues and his parents for help.

After discovering that he enjoyed wushu, a martial art, she encouraged him to perform a demonstration for his classmates.

It proved so successful that not only did he go on to perform it on Teachers' Day, but he also improved academically and personally.

Mrs Choo, in her 50s, was one of the 10 teachers to receive a Caring Teacher Award at a presentation ceremony yesterday.

"I needed to know what would make him want to learn and pay attention - at first, I thought that it would be difficult," said the teacher of 29 years.

"The help I got from the people around me made it all easier. I want my students to take pride in everything they do, even the smallest things. To do it well, even when no one is watching."

The biennial award recognises outstanding teachers for their contributions to the holistic development of their students.

This year's event at Yu Neng Primary School saw three National Award winners and seven National Commendation Award winners from primary, secondary and junior college levels.

Speaking at the ceremony yesterday, Minister for Education (Schools) and Second Minister for Transport Ng Chee Meng acknowledged the important role teachers play in the community.

"We all know what a difference (a teacher) can make to a student's life," he said.

"Their care and concern are a ballast when students face challenges, whether it is in school exams, difficulty coping with grades... different aspects of school life.

"In all these, our teachers make a difference, with that listening ear, that caring touch."

Mr Ng also launched the National Institute of Education's (NIE) new Visitor Learning Centre, which highlights the heritage and history of Singapore's education experience.

Through interactive displays and exhibitions, the centre aims to serve as a learning platform for both student teachers as well as local and international visitors.

Professor Tan Oon Seng, director of the NIE, said: "We often get requests for visits to NIE, especially from overseas institutions."

Award winner Emmanuel Chng, 31, has been teaching for just four years, but his concern for his students is evident. The science teacher at Compassvale Secondary even spent his weekends at the Sengkang Community Club to help them prepare for their O-level exams.

One of his students, 16-year-old Dion Soh, said he considered Mr Chng "a senior and a mentor".

"He really goes out of his way to help us and to talk to us, even about things that aren't related to academics," he said.

"When we're stressed, he gives us advice and supports us. He deserved to win the award. I'm really happy that he did."

Correction notes: This story was edited for accuracy.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 06, 2018, with the headline '10 receive Caring Teacher honours'. Print Edition | Subscribe