6. Happy Teachers’ Day – Friday, 6 September 2019 – Be Grateful To Teachers For Life

by Patrick Liew on September 6, 2019

6. Happy Teachers’ Day – Friday, 6 September 2019 – Be Grateful To Teachers For Life

On April 13, 2012, I took a trip down memory lane.

I was invited as the Guest Of Honor for Anderson Secondary School’s 42nd Speech Day and Prize Giving Ceremony.

It felt so good to return back to my alma mater.

While driving to the school, I had goosebumps all over my body.
I felt like a little boy going to school for the first time in my life.

Shortly before reaching the school, I saw the aftermath of an accident.

As it was still early, I stopped to try and offer my assistance.

I was surprised to discover that the owner of one of the affected vehicles was Mrs Khosa.

She taught me English while I was in school, more than 40 years ago.

She was all smiles when she saw me.

She quickly assured me, “The representative of my insurance company has arrived and everything is in order.

“I know you are the VIP today. Please hurry along”.

After all these years, she was still more interested in my well being.

Our teachers have done so much for us, much of which have influenced and shaped us throughout our lifetimes.

It is sad that after graduation, we moved on and many of us have never quite found ways to continue to show our appreciation to them, let alone repay our debt of gratitude.

When I reached the school gate, I was elated to see a banner hanging outside the school with my name on it.

I was more surprised to see that the principal and a welcoming party was standing at the porch waiting for me.

I wanted to drive to a carpark lot but I was directed to park right at the front of the school.

Two members of the National Cadet Corp stood besides my car and gave me a ceremonial salute.

Later in the evening, I told my daughter that I was stunned for a moment.

I did not know whether I should return the salute or shake their hands.

Those of you who have seen my “dark side” would probably expect me to hug them suddenly, or pinch their cheeks and say something like, “Oh! You look so cuuute!”

No, I did not do it.

The principal walked me to the registration table and asked me to write a few words on the Guests Book.

I wrote, ‘Eternally grateful to my alma mater’.

I wished I could pen more words to describe how thankful I was for everything the school had done for me.

I dared not even imagined what would have become of my life if not for the school’s character development programmes and the values that they have inculcated in me.

I was given a package of souvenirs, which included a handmade “Thank You” card.

One of the teachers offered to carry the package for me, an offer which I found hard to accept even though I eventually agreed.

I knew in my heart I was just a kampung boy who was given many privileges and opportunities, if I may humbly add, to do well and do good in life.

I was given a short welcoming performance by a group of student-percussionists.

They played on plastic pails and other simple things that could be found around the house and it was an impressive and engaging show.

Who says arts and cultural performances cannot be delivered with common materials that we oftentimes take for granted.

Truly, there are beauty and wonder all around us.

At one point, I was feeling uncomfortable that the Principal was still walking besides me.

I was mindful that he must be very busy and there were many more important things for him to attend to.

He insisted on giving me a guided tour of the school.

And since I still have a somewhat “regimented” fear for principals and teachers, I accepted his kind offer even though in my heart I felt like a burden to him.

I could never imagine when I was a student of the school more than 300 years ago  that I would ever be accorded such a reception.

To cap the honour, I was not even an exceptional student both in terms of academic results and achievements in extra curricular activities.

I am so grateful to our Creator for all the blessings that He has given to me.

I cannot help but be thankful to all the people, especially the teachers who have walked with me and supported me on the journey of life.

The principal was very proud to show me achievements of the school.

I was not at all surprised as I could tell while walking around the school that he and his team have taken great effort to build a centre of educational excellence.

As an ex-CEO of a few relatively large organisations, I could tell from observing the small little details that they have created a stimulating learning environment.

They have not only tried to deliver the lessons in accordance with stipulated requirements of the Ministry of Education, they have also done different things to expand students’ potential and help them think out of the box.

For example, there was a room where they hung a bicycle upside down. The idea was to get students to see life differently.

When these students travel on the journey of life, they have to come out with creative ways to overcome challenges and develop better solutions.

My visit to the School’s Heritage Centre made me very proud that Anderson has grown by leaps and bounds in terms of its infrastructure, staff, students and programmes.

It made me feel confident that we will produce a much better generation to lead Singapore to the next level of growth.

Once again, I felt very thankful that we have an amazing government that is forward looking and competent.

They have invested wisely to ensure that our country is at the cutting edge of educational developments and it has helped us become a model for educational leaders from all over the world.

One of the highlights of the tour was the visit to the library where I was welcomed by a group of librarians.

As a former librarian, I tried to tell them how privileged it was to serve in this position.

It has helped me to cultivate a lifelong love for books.

As long as I love to read, I know it will help prepare me to handle challenges and live a better life.

The year before, I had donated a small sum of money to help renovate the library.

It was a small token of my appreciation and I did not expect anything in return.

It came as a surprise and a joy that the school had erected a temporary plague outside the library to honour my small little gift.

They have also crafted my company’s name on it, an unsolicited gesture and for which, I was more than grateful and thankful to the school.

As I later scrolled through a few photos that I took during the tour, there was one that stood out from the rest.

It was a doodle on the white board in a classroom, a room that would be used by teachers and students to conduct the-not-so-usual lessons and discussions.

I would never know who drew the design and wrote my name prominently on the centre of it.

I wished I could thank them personally because they brought tears to my eyes and made an alumnus happy.

Undoubtedly, the drawing would eventually be erased. I would be forgotten. Life would move on.

What will never be forgotten, for me at the least, is that I will always be grateful and indebted to the government, principals, teachers, staff, and countless other people who made it possible for me to receive a good education.

Teachers inspire us to constantly carry a virtual baton of responsibility and obligation to help educate the next generation.

We will have to pass the baton and inspire others to do the same.

When we do that throughout the ebb and flow of life, there will always be hope and optimism for a better future.

Thank you teachers for all your sacrifices, efforts and contributions.



I hope this message will find a place in your heart.

By the way, I have also recorded other reflections.

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