ITE lecturers hailed for going extra mile for students
Excellence in teaching, dedication to students help them win award
Ms Jayna Eng was celebrating her mother's 65th birthday when she received a call from one of her students.
Her student, then 18, who was eight months pregnant, was crying and said she wanted to end her life.
The line then went dead.
Ms Eng, 36, an electronics lecturer at the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) College East, was so stunned for a moment she could not react.
Then Ms Eng dropped everything and drove to the teenager's flat, and for an hour, she called people close to the teen to try to locate her and advised the family to call the police. The police found the teenager sitting near the ledge of a roof garden of a Housing Board block.
Visibly emotional, Ms Eng said: "When I saw her, my legs turned jelly. I couldn't imagine such a thing would happen."
STUDENT RETURNED TO SCHOOL
The teenager gave birth to a baby girl last year and has returned to school to continue with her second year of studies.
On Oct 11, Ms Eng was one of the 15 recipients who was presented with the ITE Teacher Award. The annual award recognises educators across the three ITE colleges for their excellence in teaching and dedication to students.
Even though the teen is doing much better, Ms Eng still checks on her.
"There is still a long way for her. She is a smart girl. I want my students to see ITE as a stepping platform, as another qualification in their portfolio instead of feeling demoralised when they come here," said Ms Eng.
She makes sure she has all their emergency contacts and follows up with them if she sees something of concern on their social media pages."I want to always be prepared to help them," she added.
Another award recipient, Mr Gin Toh, a senior lecturer of retail services at the ITE College Central, visits his students at their homes after work, sometimes bringing them their assignments, especially for those who were absent from school due to health reasons.
The 39-year-old feels this helps him to empathise with his students.
"You don't understand the students' situation until you see what is tangible in their lives. It is easy to have the preconceived idea that they are playing truant when they don't come to class, but you will be surprised at what you see at times," said Mr Toh, who has noticed signs of family violence in some homes.
He also sees himself as a counsellor to help students find their purpose in life.
"Being a student at this age means they are always questioning. You need to help them find purpose, a conviction strong enough that when they feel down, they go back to that purpose they created for themselves."