When you witness someone making a mistake, is your first instinct to call them out and reprimand them? Ex-NPCC cadet Ng Sio Hoon reflects on how her teacher-officer Ms Fauziah Binte Mohd Shariff helped her realise this was not how good leaders approach problems. This Teachers’ Day, she pays tribute to a teacher who made her a better and more sensitive leader.
One of my most cherished possessions from secondary school is my ‘Best Unit Cadet’ badge from my CCA, the National Police Cadet Corps (NPCC).
I still remember the moment when my teacher-officer, Ms Fauziah Binte Mohd Shariff, pinned the badge on me during our Passing Out Parade some 20 years ago. She told me, “When you put in your best effort, people will see your efforts and acknowledge your achievements. So always do your best!”
Those words resonated deeply with me as I had never thought I would be the “best” in anything.
When I first entered Cedar Girls’ NPCC Unit, I was lacking in confidence. I came from an all-Chinese primary school and was more fluent in Chinese. Having to address the squad in English scared me.
But the wide range of activities in NPCC made me more comfortable and confident to speak up. I enjoyed the campcraft sessions where I learnt practical skills like first aid and orienteering. Through the police knowledge courses like crime prevention, I acquired useful knowledge and the camping experiences developed in me a lifelong love for nature and the outdoors.
More than the activities I enjoyed, it was the people in the unit who helped me grow to be a confident leader. In particular, Ms Fauziah would always look out for me and affirm my strengths. She noticed when I tried my best, when I spoke up, when I volunteered to help my squad mates – and her nod of approval gave me the courage to do so again at the next opportunity.
She would also correct me to help me become a better leader.
I remember an incident in Secondary 2 when I mistakenly thought that my squad mate had misplaced some of the equipment we were responsible for. In the heat of the moment, I raised my voice and reprimanded her, and she responded in kind.
Unfortunately (or so I thought at that time), Ms Fauziah witnessed our altercation. She made the two of us take a walk with her around the school track. The minute I stepped away from the scene, it struck me that I had humiliated my friend in front of others. I was chagrined and sure that Ms Fauziah was going to scold me. Instead, she gently explained to me why my approach was wrong. She used the incident to teach us that leaders have to focus on people’s positive traits, so that we could bring out the best in them. After the walk, we apologised to each other.
I still remember the analogy she used. If there’s a black dot in the middle of a blank piece of paper, we should focus on the white space, and not the dot. I realised that was what she had been doing with us all this time. She did not judge us by our shortcomings, but instead helped us to discover the good qualities we had.
Years later, I was happy to serve as an Honorary Officer and teacher in NPCC, the CCA that shaped me into who I am today. In those years, I did my best to pass on to my students and cadets the same lessons Ms Fauziah imparted to me.
Amazingly, I reunited later with Ms Fauziah at an NPCC event. Even then, she affirmed me for what I was doing with my cadets, and encouraged me when I shared about the challenges I was facing. She has not changed one bit! I am thankful to have had a teacher like her in my life.
Ms Ng Sio Hoon (left) and Ms Fauziah at the NPCC Western Australia Adventure Trip in 2006.
This article is part of our six-part series on Uniformed Group Teacher-officers who inspired us. Check out the other stories here: