Course in­spired trio to be teach­ers

The Straits Times - - EDUCATION -

It was Ms Jac­que­line Chua’s three-week Out­ward Bound Sin­ga­pore (OBS) course 40 years ago that led her to pur­sue a ca­reer in teach­ing.

As a 17-year-old “grop­ing in the dark”, she lacked self-con­fi­dence and did not think she would qual­ify for a place in a univer­sity, as no­body in her fam­ily had done so be­fore.

But the chal­leng­ing phys­i­cal ac­tiv­i­ties at her stu­dent l ead­ers’ course gave the then house cap­tain from Ou­tram Sec­ondary School self-be­lief. “At the end of each day, we would be asked to re­flect on how we would ap­ply what we had learnt to serve others. That’s when I re­alised I should be a teacher. The seeds of service were planted in OBS,” said Ms Chua, now 57.

She grad­u­ated with top hon­ours from the Na­tional In­sti­tute of Ed­u­ca­tion. She then taught English and English lit­er­a­ture for 22 years, in­clud­ing seven years at Hwa Chong In­sti­tu­tion, be­fore re­tir­ing in 2008.

One key les­son Ms Chua learnt from her 1977 course was to trust in her own abil­i­ties.

“From a teenager l ack­ing in self-es­teem to a con­fi­dent teacher hold­ing a mas­ter’s de­gree, I’ve moved on smoothly in life, thanks to a large ex­tent to OBS,” she said.

The lessons Ms Chua learnt from OBS also rubbed off on two of her chil­dren, who at­tended five-day OBS cour­ses and be­came teach­ers.

Mr Tommy Kee, 25, is a math­e­mat­ics teacher, while his sis­ter Car­men teaches at Zhenghua Pri­mary School. Mr Kee said he was pushed out of his com­fort zone to try a dif­fer­ent lead­er­ship style dur­ing his Sec­ondary 3 lead­er­ship camp 10 years ago.

“I was from Hwa Chong, where most stu­dents are quite good in­di­vid­u­ally, but when it comes to the team, some­times peo­ple miss out on the big­ger pic­ture when they think about them­selves too much.”

On his choice of ca­reer, Mr Kee said: “I wanted to con­trib­ute in a way that mar­ries my pas­sion in math­e­mat­ics and do­ing some­thing that gives back to so­ci­ety in a mean­ing­ful way.”

Ms Car­men Kee, 28, a math­e­mat­ics and sci­ence teacher, said that go­ing through OBS as a Sec 3 stu­dent in Bukit Pan­jang Gov­ern­ment High School taught her to be­come a more con­fi­dent per­son.

The course gave her a chance to stretch her lim­its in an un­fa­mil­iar en­vi­ron­ment, she added.

“It in­spired me to help others re­alise their po­ten­tial, and teach­ing is a great way to do so.”

Lim Min Zhang


Ms Jac­que­line Chua taught for 22 years be­fore re­tir­ing, whereas her son, Mr Tommy Kee, is a math­e­mat­ics teacher.

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