American businessman-turned-lecturer wins ITE award
Despite successful careers in both the oil and banking industries, Mr Samuel Craig, 41, felt without purpose.
Burnt-out and weary, the American expatriate was working at a local bank when he heard about the Institute of Technical Education (ITE). Moved to help students, he started teaching business there in 2009.
However, assimilating into the local culture of the ITE students was a challenge.
Mr Craig, who has lived in Singapore for more than 15 years, told The New Paper: "I was very Caucasian and foreign. I did not want students to model themselves after me. I want them to be the best, unique versions of themselves."
Today, he is a senior lecturer-mentor who teaches the Higher Nitec maritime business and human resource and administration courses as well as principal staff-in-charge of the Foosball Club at ITE College Central.
Mr Craig won an ITE Teacher Award for the CCA Contributions category on Nov 28.
He said: "My goal in the Foosball Club is to ignite within students a desire to be good at something. They can gain confidence, learn how to keep cool under pressure and pick themselves up if they lose a game."
He said: "The club's best players are also the best students academically, with their GPAs hitting ITE College Central's top 10 per cent in (their cohort)."
Brought up in an underprivileged household in US state of New Mexico, Mr Craig's empathy for troubled students is what motivates him.
"I wanted to be a businessman but I was going nowhere. So, I grew up and took charge of my life."
He hopes that students will be inspired to "figure out what they want to accomplish" in life and thinks business is a viable way to do so.
"Business is a relevant skill that can open their eyes. You don't need typical academics, just a good attitude and emotional quotient."
Despite taking a large pay cut when he moved to teaching, his life is now "happier" and "more livable".
Mr Craig said: "Life is simpler and more manageable. I hardly noticed my lower salary because it is a pleasure being with and creating learning experiences with my students. Be it through a foosball competition or graduating, I am happy for them as long as they are contributing to society." - SAMFREY TAN