Teachers in the Klang Valley enjoy reunions, makeover sessions and delicious food at high tea events held in appreciation of their dedication in the classroom.
IT IS a small world out there for the English teaching fraternity in the Klang Valley. Still, Leela Rani Bachan Singh never met her favourite teacher Sim Soo Kee again after she completed her Form Five studies at Methodist Girls’ School Kuala Lumpur in 1975.
The English teacher from SM Teknik Kuala Lumpur thought she saw someone familiar at The Star-NiE high tea at The Spread, The Gardens Hotel & Residences, recently.
To Leela Rani’s delight, the familiar stranger turned out to be Sim. The teacher and former student had a delightful time catching up with each other over the sumptuous spread of food at the high tea.
“Soo was such a wonderful teacher — there was never a dull moment with her as she lighted up the classroom with her witty jokes and anecdotes,” said Leela Rani.
Sim, who is now an NiE trainer, said nothing gives her more joy than seeing one of her former students taking up the teaching profession.
“Teaching gives you great satisfaction. I also like to be around energetic and enthusiastic teachers,” she said.
For the 14th year running, Star-NiE and its partner Pizza Hut treated passionate teachers to high tea in hotels in Kuala Lumpur and Petaling Jaya recently to recognise these educators’ special roles in the NiE programme.
On hand to greet the teachers at the high tea was The Star’s deputy group chief editor II Leanne Goh.
She thanked the teachers for their continued support for NiE.
“We hope to see all of you again for a bigger and merrier celebration of NiE’s 15th anniversary celebration next year,” Goh said in her welcoming address to the teachers.
Also present at the high tea were Faridah Hanim Ariffin from the Federal Territory education department private education unit and Hanifah Mat Yusoff from the department’s communications unit.
Going the distance
MRSM Tun Ghazali Shafie Kuala Lipis teachers Mohd Firdaus Abd Munir and Vernon Daim did not mind travelling for three hours to attend the high tea in Kuala Lumpur.
“I wanted to take this opportunity to network with other teachers and also to find out more about what the NiE programme has to offer,” said Mohd Firdaus.
Vernon said the NiE pullouts and The Star were useful in teaching writing to students.
“I also use the headlines and pictures in the newspaper to trigger discussions on interesting topics in the classroom,” said Vernon.
The two men also wasted no time in receiving skincare tips from Clinique outreach and college events manager Ng Huay-Tjin.
Some female teachers, such as Tang Boon Siew and Helyza Hashim who also travelled from Pahang were prettied up in the mini makeover sessions by the Clinique consultants.
“It boosts my confidence when I enter the classroom looking good. Students can sense that and their attention will be immediately drawn,” said SMK Taman Bukit Maluri teacher Sughita Kunjanman.
Meanwhile, other reunions were also taking place during the Petaling Jaya high tea session held at Atrium Cafe, Pyramid Tower.
SMK Seksyen 3 Bandar Kinrara teacher Nurlina Onn Abdullah and her friend Salmah Abd Rahim from SK Bandar Baru Salak Tinggi were happy to see each other after they began keeping in touch on Facebook last year.
“We used to keep in touch on and off, but it was only last year that I became her ‘friend’ on Facebook.
“Salmah was telling me how demotivated she felt as an English teacher. That was when I introduced her to NiE,” said Nurlina, who added that the last time she met Salmah was at the NiE workshop in February.
Salmah said, “NiE really brought us together again and teaching English has been so much more exciting!”
But it was an even bigger surprise when the duo bumped into their former coursemate Lim Chee Keong, who is now a teacher at SMJK Katholik, Petaling Jaya.
Lim said, “It was such an unexpected meeting and I was so surprised to see my old coursemates. I’m so glad that all of us are still in the teaching profession, although many have left to do other things in life.”
Teachers’ day out
Petaling Perdana District Education Office language unit head Balkis Ahmad said such an event was a nice way to show appreciation to the teachers.
“The teachers really enjoy the high tea and I can see that they are having a great time. It is certainly something they look forward to each year and they treat it like an outing for themselves,” she said, adding that it was a good source of motivation for teachers as they feel appreciated for their service in school.
Having been involved in NiE since the launch of the programme in 1997, Balkis said she has always encouraged the use of NiE in the classroom.
“The NiE adds variety to the teaching and learning process, and I think it is good that there are also facilitators to help teachers through the workshops.”
No stranger to NiE was SMJK Katholik teacher Leela James Dass, the school’s NiE coordinator and Form Four English teacher who has been using NiE in her classrooms since it was launched.
“I think NiE competitions such as Mag Inc has been very beneficial for the students. I always promise them that they would have something to gain from these projects, even though they may not think so at first.”
Dass said that although many of her students were already fluent in the English language, they could learn more about a topic through their research.
“I believe that as teachers, we need to constantly coax and motivate our students. Take Mag Inc as an example; I tell them that since they are always looking for something different to do, this is their chance to do so.
“Better still, since they have the liberty to write about anything, I ask them what they would like to see in a magazine, and that is when they begin to find interest in producing one themselves,” she said.
Good things did not come to an end at the conclusion of the high tea events. All the teachers went home happy with goodie bags containing Clinique skincare items and cosmetics worth RM284, along with copies of Kuntum, Galaxie, Shanghai and Flavours magazines.
There will also be high tea sessions held for teachers in Penang and Ipoh later this month.
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