Honouring Ex-TeACherS

I am always impressed by the number of long service awards presented to ACS Teachers during the Founder’s Day Service at our ACS schools. Serving 30 years in an institution is an achievement that not many of us can attain, but this is a frequent occurrence among ACS teachers. Some teachers would have taught two generations of ACSians while others would have first-hand experience of school life in ACS campuses which no longer exist. Some retired teachers would even have taught in ACS before Singapore became a nation. Our retired teachers inspired us when we were students and are a rich repository of knowledge and wisdom gleaned over the years.

It is a pity that as our ACS teachers transition into retirement, there is less contact with the ACS family. The ACSOBA strives to maintain the links between retired ACS teachers and Old Boys with activities such as the ACSOBA Retired ACS Teachers’ Tribute Dinner and the ACSOBA Golf Classic Dinner. However, there has been minimal interaction between the current ACS students and the retired ACS teachers until the Honouring exTeACherS programme was initiated in a collaboration between ACS (Independent) and ACSOBA in 2019.

Initially, the project involved two retired ACS staff and two year 4 classes in ACSI. In 2020, the projected expanded exponentially and the boys now engage seven retired ACS staff on a regular basis. Through regular interaction with the retired teachers, the boys learned much about ACS heritage and values. The boys and their current teachers visited the retired ACS staff at their homes and hosted them at events in ACS (Independent). Mr Fu Yat Khin used to work at ACSS, the single ACS secondary school unit before the formation of ACSI and ACS (Barker Road), after World War 2 until the 1980s. When he visited ACSI during National Day Celebrations last year, both he and one of the drink stall operators recognised each other! She used to sell laksa in ‘Days of Yore’ at the canteen in the Barker Road site where ACSS and ACJS (now known as ACSJ) were co-located.

The project evolved to be much more than these visits and merely listening to ACSian legends and tales, as the boys were constantly thinking of ways to ‘entertain’ the retired teachers. A beneficiary of their creative minds was Mr Ang Kok Tong, a retired teacher who taught at ACPS (currently known as ACSP). Mr Ang does not usually venture far from his home due to some mobility issues. When the boys learned that he is a ‘foodie’, they organised a food trail for him around Singapore. They tasted local delicacies at 5 different food courts including Tekka Market, Golden Mile Food Centre and Old Airport Road Food Centre.

The next chapter of the project commenced this year when Singapore was paralysed by the Covid-19 epidemic. Social distancing restrictions and MOE regulations meant that physical visits by students were not possible even after the Circuit Breaker was lifted. Our current ACSI teachers rose to the occasion and visited the retired teachers in their personal capacities, demonstrating the close-knit kinship that exists among like-minded ACS teachers. There have been many accolades about the ACSI teachers who have taken the extra mile to care for their senior ex-colleagues. Ms Agnes Yong, a retired English teacher from ACJC, recounted her delight on how Mr Julius Lee, an ACSI chemistry teacher, had found out that her collection was missing the final book of Hilary Mantell’s trilogy and obtained the book for her.

In addition, our dedicated ACSI teachers helped our retired teachers with virtual meeting platforms, to enable our boys to engage our retired teachers in cyberspace. When Covid-19 threatened to derail our Honouring Ex-TeACherS programme, our ACSI teachers ensured its continuity. As some of our retired teachers do not have access to Microsoft Teams or a laptop, our ACSI teachers will go to the retired teachers’ homes to provide the virtual platform for the ACSI boys to interact with the retired teachers. During the recent Teachers’ Day celebrations, the boys created a video for Mrs Toh Siew Tee, former Biology teacher at ACSS, which included greetings from her former colleagues at ACSI. The boys showcased their creative talents with a rendition of ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’ at the end of the video.

Ms Yong was equally appreciative of the online meetings with the ACSI boys. She shared her delight with Mr Arene Koh, Principal of ACSI, that she thoroughly enjoyed the sessions. The boys enacted a scene from Act III of Romeo and Juliet, performed a virtuoso violin recital and even sang in mandarin!

The Honouring ex-TeACherS programme has rekindled the relationship between retired ACS teachers and current ACS students, and the connection retired ACS teachers and their current colleagues. In tandem with the ACSOBA’s efforts to strengthen bonds between retired ACS teachers and ACS Old Boys, the Honouring ex-TeACherS programme vividly illustrates the ethos of the ACS family.

Wong Heng Yu

Retired Teachers’ Engagement subcommittee

Honouring Ex-Teachers
ACSI students & teachers visited Mr Fu Yat Khin
Honouring Ex-Teachers
Singing of ACS anthem during class party at ACSI
Honouring Ex-Teachers
Mrs Toh Siew Tee learning IT skills from Mrs Sandra Sim
Honouring Ex-Teachers
Mr Jerel Chen & Ms Goretti Pereira visiting
Mrs Kee Nai Chip (centre) at her home
Honouring Ex-Teachers
Ms Agnes Yong interacting with ACSI boys virtually
Honouring Ex-Teachers
Class 4.11 with Mr Ang Kok Tong on Food Trail
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