I do not know if you still remember me, as it has been a very long time since we last spoke. I feel that it is necessary that I recount to you what happened at the lowest point in my life.
Ten years ago, while awaiting my ‘A’ Level results, my palms were clammy and my nerves unsettled. As I came forward to collect my results slip, I saw your warm, and smiling face and immediately felt much calmer. When you handed me my slip, I wanted to thank you for everything that you had done for me but unfortunately, I could not put my gratitude into words.
I was shocked when I read that I had scored a ‘B’ for my Chemistry paper. The usual grade I got was ‘F’ in red ink. The initial shock gradually faded as I read what you wrote about me on my testimonial.
It read: She has a positive outlook in life which will serve her well in the future and help her overcome obstacles and challenges.
My first thought when I read it was, “Wait… This can’t be me…”
You see, until then, I had always thought of myself as a negative and non-confident student. I felt pleasantly surprised that you thought of me as someone who was positive.
Your kind words still reverberate within me and whenever I feel down, I recall memories of having bonded with you in the last year of Junior College.
You knew that I fared very poorly in Chemistry. But what you were not aware of was that I was also struggling with problems at home. I always felt like I was not good enough for my parents. Being the eldest, I was always expected to do the cooking and cleaning at home while my two sisters were excluded from the daily grind of household chores. It seemed to me that my parents doted more on my sisters. No one at home asked me how school was or how well I was doing in my studies.
My thoughts on schoolwork went along the lines of “if my parents don’t care, why should I?”
Since my parents were indifferent towards me, I began to think that I was worth close to nothing. Every minute in school felt like a challenge to be surpassed.
In the second year of Junior College, you were posted as a Chemistry and Civics tutor to my class. At first glance, you seemed very strict and intimidating. Little did I know that under that daunting appearance, you were kind- hearted and gentle. You were unlike any other teacher I had ever come across.
You noticed that I was very poor in Chemistry and approached me. You told me that I could consult you regarding anything, be it mind-boggling Chemistry questions or personal troubles. Indeed, I was dumbfounded. No one had spoken to me like that before. I never felt like I had someone to confide in until then.
You did not think twice about sacrificing your break times to tutor me. I posed a barrage of questions and you tolerantly answered each and every one of them. Even when I did not understand your explanations, you repeated them patiently.
Right now, you might think that whatever you did for me were just small acts of kindness that you show your other students too. If only you knew how much those small acts meant to me. You are akin to an angel.
You made me realise that I was neither lazy nor stupid and forget the multiple troubles at home. Soon, my results showed tremendous improvement.
I hope you think of me from time to time. 10 years have flown past and I still remember what you wrote on my end-of-year testimonial. Those few words of encouragement gave me the strength to face the various challenges in life. I feel that every teacher should be like you.
10 years on, I have found out that teaching is my favoured career path as well. I am now a full- time tutor at two tuition centres. I cannot help but think that your kind-heartedness and thoughtfulness spurred me into choosing the teaching career path. I treat you as my role- model.
I encounter so many troubled kids on a daily basis. I feel like it is my responsibility to offer these kids care and concern, just like what you did for me so many years back.
Sometimes, a simple word of encouragement can make a student’s day. I praise a weak student in front of everyone and his face immediately brightens up. What kids have always needed but have so little of is self-confidence. I sincerely wish I had met you earlier and built that much-needed self-confidence in my younger days.
It has been ten years since we last spoke but the memories of the times we spent together still linger on in my heart. This Teachers’ Day, I wish to thank you from the bottom of my heart and one day when we do meet, I promise to speak forth my heartfelt appreciation.