i remember the day i walked into MOE HQ at buona vista. nervous, making sure my hair was in place and my lips weren’t dry. reminding myself to greet the interviewers and to not sit before they ask me to, reminding myself to not place my bag on the table cos that wasnt interview etiquette.
“so what do you see yourself as in the future?”
“i love biology and i really hope to spread the love for biology. teaching is the best way to do that….
… but i eventually intend to move to a special education school. i know that i dont have enough experience to start there. i believe that being in a mainstream school will allow me to experience and learn different skills in teaching. that will give me the basic background knowledge because special education students are very different and generally more difficult to handle because of their specific needs. eventually i wish to retire in a special ed school” i replied, in all truthfulness.
bio has always been my first love. being a person who almost always never really knew what she wanted, knowing that i love bio might have been the only exception. i did bio all my life and i would have loved to take up medicine, if not for the fact that i wasnt smart enough to get into medical faculty.
i also have the dream to help others, and at that time, i really did consider eventually retiring at a special education school.
i got selected to go to NIE, and after the 1 yr have-fun-enjoy-and-pretend-teaching phase, i got posted to kss. having never heard of this school before, i desperately tried to find out if anyone else from my cohort was posted to kss – and “ta dah!” one friend introduced me to his friend who knew someone else who was posted to kss. and that was how Mr Choy Chee Ping and i got connected.
my first 6 mths in kss was purely sensational. with a HOD like Suriani (who is now vice-dean of SOTA), i put my foot into everything science/bio, i wanted to do everything that i could because this was my school. the eagerness to make a difference was significant. the belief that i could make a difference was sky high.
science department felt like family then. nothing less. i loved the sci meetings because i was just so inspired to hear her talk and unpack the rationale for every new idea formulated. by the end of the mtg, we left the room convinced that there was a purposeful and valuable reason for doing what we had to do. Suriani is still the HOD i look up to in all these years. she makes meaning and made us want to work together. sadly, she left 6 mths after i came in. i still continued to be one of the most eager person around. put my foot into almost everything because i knew i could, and i wanted to because i felt it would benefit the students.
the years passed, ppl changed. i learnt a new phrase which i refused to succumb to. “no one is indispensable”. it was something i was severely against. i even fought with Mr Yeo Choon Hwa abt that concept of dispensability. but, that year, 2009-2010, one by one, my closer friends left kss. Ms Maybelline Tan, Mr Siah Kai Ming, and Mr Yeo Choon Hwa. these were 3 ppl i was close to. and for an entire year, i was just angry (not at them. but at the fact that ppl can leave). i might have been angry because maybe subconsciously, i knew that no one was indispensable. the school did not crumble because these ppl left. they found a way to carry on and still succeed. by the time it came to Ms Tan Bee Leng leaving, i had accepted that ppl who have decided to leave, leave because they have a strong reason to. no amount of asking “why” would make any difference.
today, i subscribe to the concept that “no one is indispensable” the school will not crumble because someone leaves. that should be how an organisation works. there must always be someone to take over. thats just the way it is. i refuse to budge, though, over the fact that relationships are indispensable.
the kss staffroom is one of the best staffrooms ive been in. this, being my 3rd school, i dare say that the teachers in the staffroom help one another despite differences (most of the time, at least). because we have a common goal. and the goal is STUDENTS. thats one of the things that kept me going. there is a strong number of teachers who work for the students. we complain in the staffroom, we sigh, we get irritated, but, when it comes to helping the students, we go all out. a battalion of us send the kids in for the Ns and Os. and a few yrs later, when we hear that someone we used to teach has made it well somewhere out there, the staffroom breaks out in cheers.
in the past few days of major staffroom clean out, many old items were pulled out. as some of us showed each other what we used to have, what we used to do, what we received from our fav classes, it brought back alot of memories. Ms Susan Leong’s sharing brought the most smile cos she had years and years of items from like a gazillion years ago! she just loved everything she had kept from her previous years, including transparencies from the OHP era. NYAA booklets from the 200* batch, from which Ms Liew Jiaman graduated from. school yearbooks from way before i came in in 2006. like many teachers who were in kss before me, the sharing of memories was just a moment of splendor. from the shiny overhead decorations from the best CFN in 2004 (so she claims), to Combined UG Camp 2000’s waterbottle souvenier, to the kind of wonderful students we’ve had in kss all these years, the memories are aplenty. and they add to my memories of my own sec sch experiences. just that im experiencing the side of a teacher this time round.
i am bringing these memories with me.
changes are so common, the dynamism of it all is scary. so many teachers leaving, the younger generation taking over. just like when i was one of the junior teachers who came in with so much pride that i can make a difference. well, reading through my cards, i think, i did make a difference. in some small way, one way or the other, at some point in time. perhaps somebody else could have done the same thing. but, i did. and i think i fulfilled what i intended to do. ive done my best for the students. i have no regrets.
but, to be honest, some part of me still wishes i could continue to teach. i am going to miss my students. alot. im going to miss working with my students. im going to miss going into class and educating the kids. im going to miss working with my colleagues. i will miss getting excited over some new projects whose objectives are in the same direction as my believe in education. im going to miss the staffroom environment. i will miss some of us teachers gathering to complain and decide eventually that we still have to do it. miss the (mundane) morning assemblies. most of all, im going to miss standing in front of a class of students, sharing the (little) knowledge i have with them. sharing my experiences and guiding them.
change, is a difficult thing to cope with. many ppl think that i’m all set and ready to go. well, i am, but, im afraid as well. and i find it hard to communicate that when ppl seem to think that im all positive and excited. not really a risk taker, this is a courageous decision i have made. maybe a foolish one. why would anyone leave a job with a stable income that will follow you through your life? the reasons behind my decision are many. some push factors, some trigger factors. the idea that i want to do something for myself seems convincing enough for me. and i should venture out while im still young and able to afford a bit of risk taking. but the prospects are bleak and i am worried.
but, if not now, it’ll be never. head up high, im going for it.
my 6 years in KSS have been filled with so many wonderful moments. i dare say that’s what i’ll remember most. all my complains just take a fraction of my emotion for this school.
wishing my colleagues (too many to name) all the very best in the years to come! keep the passion alive, cos what you do does make a difference.