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My NCC teacher got me to challenge myself

23 Aug 2021


Daniel (far right) and his peers during a Combined Uniformed Groups school parade in 2016. Daniel calls himself a problematic student who has grown into a purpose-driven individual, thanks to his NCC experience and teacher.

As a Normal (Technical) student who laterally transferred to the Normal (Academic) stream, Daniel David was keen to prove himself to his peers. He never expected the opportunity to come through his CCA – from his teacher Trixie Chan in the National Cadet Corps (NCC), who offered him the chance to lead. This Teachers’ Day, he thanks the teacher who always challenged him to be the best version of himself.

I was once a rebellious student. From disrupting lessons with my ill-timed jokes to submitting my homework late (if at all), I caused no end of trouble for my teachers in Secondary 1.

I am sure few of my classmates and teachers believed I would grow into the purpose-driven and disciplined individual I am today. I credit this to my time spent in Fairfield Methodist School (Secondary)’s NCC (Sea) unit.

Although I lacked motivation to behave in class, CCA was a different story. I looked up to my seniors, who were strict yet caring. I vividly remember a kayaking expedition we had in Secondary 2, where we encountered a heavy storm. While we waited out the storm, my seniors kept checking on us and told jokes to keep our spirits high. Their selflessness inspired me, and I wanted to be like them.

My behaviour did not change overnight, but the influence of my seniors slowly took root and I began to be more responsible and put in effort in class. At the end of Secondary 2, I was even laterally transferred from the Normal (Technical) to Normal (Academic) stream.

Besides my seniors, Ms Trixie Chan, my NCC teacher-officer, was key to my transformation.

She appointed me as the Assistant Sergeant Major (ASM) in my third year. Although I was pleased, I contemplated saying no because it was a huge responsibility. Ms Chan challenged me to take up the role and prove my ability to lead. She got me to realise that this was a unique opportunity that I would regret passing up. I said yes.

Throughout my leadership journey as ASM, and later as Unit Sergeant Major (USM), Ms Chan was there to guide me and push me to be a better version of myself.

I remember a disagreement we had early in my term. My batch in Secondary 3 wore red nametags. But I had to repeat Secondary 2 in the Normal (Academic) course because of the lateral transfer - and the Secondary 2 batch wore white. I was adamant about keeping my original red nametag even when Ms Chan paid for a new white nametag for me. I saw it as a matter of pride and rudely told her I would not give up my roots. However, Ms Chan pointed out that I would never be able to lead my juniors effectively if I insisted on keeping myself apart from them.

Her frank words and critique changed my perspective and made me a better leader.

Another memorable incident was when I graduated from the HQ Advanced Drills Course (ADC), a course I was immensely proud to have completed. Ms Chan took away my coveted ADC badge and told me I would only be awarded with it after I successfully conducted a muster parade for the unit. Though I was initially indignant, the move made me determined to conduct the parade well and I looked into every aspect of the event with care. I earned my badge back and learnt that experience is the true test of competence.

Today, even as I face new and challenging situations in polytechnic, I call upon the lessons Ms Chan and NCC have imparted and persevere on.

Ms Chan’s ardent support and belief in me changed my life. Where others may be quick to judge a “problematic” student like me, she saw my potential and guided me to achieve my goals. Thank you, Ms Chan!

This article is part of our six-part series on Uniformed Group Teacher-officers who inspired us. Check out the other stories here: