10 teachers honoured for going beyond call of duty

Miss Tan Li Ling from Geylang Methodist School (Primary) helped a pupil who had anger management issues by encouraging other pupils to make friends and play with him during recess. Yesterday, the 47-year-old was one of three recipients of the Nationa
Miss Tan Li Ling from Geylang Methodist School (Primary) helped a pupil who had anger management issues by encouraging other pupils to make friends and play with him during recess. Yesterday, the 47-year-old was one of three recipients of the National Level Award at the Caring Teacher Awards 2020.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

Miss Tan Li Ling remembers trying to hold on to one of her pupils - even as he grabbed and pulled her hair - to stop him from hurting himself.

The Primary 1 pupil at Geylang Methodist School (Primary) had anger management issues and was acting out in class.

After that incident in 2017, the school spoke with the boy's parents and with other teachers who wished to help.

It was later found that he needed special education.

To help him feel at ease and give him peer support, Miss Tan encouraged other pupils to make friends and play with him during recess. She also spent time talking to him and trying to forge a bond. The boy is now in Primary 4 and doing well in school. To this day, Miss Tan has a good relationship with him.

Yesterday, the 47-year-old was one of three recipients of the National Level Award at the Caring Teacher Awards 2020. Seven other teachers received the National Commendation Award.

The 10 winners were selected out of over 5,800 nominations across 225 schools.

The awards "recognise the critical role that teachers play overall, ensuring that learning continues, even during a pandemic, and that all students are still being cared for", said the National Institute of Education (NIE) at Nanyang Technological University, which organises the event.

This is the 13th edition of the awards, which are supported by ExxonMobil Asia Pacific and the Ministry of Education.

Miss Tan, who has been teaching English, mathematics and social studies for 20 years, said: "I see that as a teacher, my job doesn't stop after I take a class for a year. The process should be like a cycle, where we support the child all the way to Primary 6 and further on, if he or she wants to stay in touch with us.

"I believe each child has a gift waiting to be unwrapped. As teachers, we have to help them discover their strengths and tap their potential."

LIFELONG COMMITMENT

I see that as a teacher, my job doesn't stop after I take a class for a year. The process should be like a cycle, where we support the child all the way to Primary 6 and further on, if he or she wants to stay in touch with us... I believe each child has a gift waiting to be unwrapped. As teachers, we have to help them discover their strengths and tap their potential.

MISS TAN LI LING, who teaches at Geylang Methodist School (Primary).

She added that she is thankful for her fellow teachers and colleagues.

"It takes more than just one person to help a particular child. Everyone - from the teachers to the canteen vendors and staff in the school - plays a part."

Associate Professor Ivy Tan from NIE, who is the chairman of this year's awards organising committee and also sits on the panel of judges, said the three national-level winners were "unanimously selected". "The testimonies related by the principals, colleagues, parents and students who have supported the nominations of the winners... were heart-warming and uplifting," said Prof Tan.

"The award winners' values of caring and going beyond their call of duty to be the wind beneath the wings for their students are most admirable and especially much needed during this period of the (Covid-19) pandemic."

Besides Miss Tan, the other two winners are Madam Norul Ashiqin Rashid from Meridian Secondary School and Dr Bernard Ricardo from the NUS High School of Mathematics and Science.

 
 
 

Madam Norul, 39, a chemistry teacher, said this is the highest accolade she has received in her 15 years of teaching.

"I love interacting and imparting my knowledge and skills to (students). It gives me a sense of fulfilment when I know that they have grown, both academically and (in terms of maturity)," she said.

"What's amazing is that I always get to learn something new. There are lots of opportunities for learning, and I'm also seeing myself growing and developing professionally year by year."

Dr Ricardo, 35, who teaches physics, said: "Being a teacher is not about the title, but about the impact we make. I love teaching as it allows me to impart values beyond knowledge to the students."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 10, 2020, with the headline '10 teachers honoured for going beyond call of duty'. Print Edition | Subscribe