ITE alumni-turned-lecturer inspires students
ITE lecturer lauded at the ITE Awards 2017 for bonding with his charges
One of his students had been devastated that he ended up in the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) - until he met ITE alumni Mr Nizamudeen Rahman.
Now, he is pursuing a diploma in a local polytechnic and aims to enter a local university.
This is one of many success stories that Mr Nizamudeen, ITE College Central's section head from the Nitec aerospace machining technology course, has to tell.
For his dedication in reaching out to troubled students, Mr Nizamudeen, 33, won the ITE Teacher Award for the Student Care and Development category. He is one of 15 lecturers recognised at the ITE Awards 2017 held on Nov 28.
Mr Nizamudeen's journey to teaching started when he was a student at ITE College East.
He was initially "depressed" when he enrolled in ITE's mechanical engineering course at 16 after failing mathematics at his O levels but he changed his mind about the school after encountering teachers who inspired him.
"My teachers were constantly guiding me. They showered me with care, and I saw their sincerity in wanting to help me."
This sparked his desire to excel, which was instrumental in him obtaining his bachelor in mechanical engineering from Nanyang Technological University.
He said: "I want ITE students to see that my story can be (theirs) too. Stop blaming your circumstances - work hard and good things will come."
His students have diverse backgrounds. A few are orphans and some have parents who are in jail, have neglected them or are very poor.
"For these students, low self-esteem and lack of motivation are key issues," he said.
Mr Nizamudeen uses the time between lessons and weekly care sessions to bond with his students individually.
He goes the extra mile of collating not just their parents' contact numbers, but also their siblings'.
He said: "If a student is absent, I want to know where he is. I will call every family member until someone picks up."
Mr Nizamudeen believes his students have potential for success, which will remain untapped if they are neither valued nor understood.
He said: "As an educator, I cannot be prideful and egoistic. Their respect for me should be earned, not commanded."
He added: "Each student gets inspired differently, be it through stories like mine or through industrial attachments, learning journeys and competitions where they realise the importance of their roles in Singapore's economy."
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