Ms Esther Ong Chin Chin endears herself to the little ones with her affable nature and caring ways
An interview with OYEA 2007 winner, Miss Esther Ong Chin Chin
Mother Tongue language teachers at the primary level may not get to spend as much classroom time with their pupils as form teachers, but that hasn’t stopped Miss Esther Ong Chin Chin at Woodlands Primary School from having an impact on her pupils and making Chinese Language lessons come alive for them. Recalling a batch of pupils whom she taught during their Pri 5 and Pri 6 years, she describes them as being “as close as family”.
In fact, teaching that batch held some of the happiest moments in her teaching career so far (yes, even more so than winning the 2007 OYEA, though that was a memorable event in its own right).
“Some of those former pupils still visit the school regularly and I realise how much I miss them when I see them, even though we still keep in touch through online messaging and other means”, she confesses.
Miss Ong is also involved with the Students’ Council and the school’s STAR programme for at-risk pupils, where she spends many hours visiting and following up with the children. “There are many opportunities in which we can influence their character development for the better,” she notes.
Esther is passionate about teaching and hopes to live positive imprints in the lives of her students.
However, despite her great enthusiasm and passion for education, she’s had her share of tough moments in her teaching career. In 2006, besides handling her usual teaching responsibilities, she also helped her Pri 6 pupils through the critical final month of preparing for the PSLE. Unfortunately, her grandmother, whom she was very close to, was also diagnosed with cancer at this time.
“It was a physically and emotionally trying time,” Miss Ong recalls the days when she had to regularly rush to the hospital after work. Nevertheless, she found the strength to handle the challenges and drew on her friends and colleagues for support as well.
For one who enjoys every moment spent with her charges as they learn and play, Miss Ong’s personal commitment is to “touch lives, ignite zeal for learning, and fuel hopes and dreams,” she said, quoting the words of Ms Seah Jiak Choo, Director-General of Education. “Being conferred the OYEA is like an encouraging pat on the back to say that I’ve been true to my mission in bringing out the best in the pupils and to keep going”, says the surprised and elated winner.
What would be the greatest reward to have as a teacher, then? Miss Ong’s vision is to be able to develop lifelong relationships with her pupils and watch them go from strength to strength. “I hope to leave a positive imprint on each of their lives as they grow up.”
Miss Esther Ong Chin Chin, Mdm Huang Yiyan and Miss Sukhjeet Kaur received the 2007 Outstanding Youth in Education Award (OYEA), in recognition of their passion and commitment to the teaching profession. Read the interviews with Mdm Huang Yiyan and Miss Sukhjeet Kaur here.