The Best Teacher I Know

Comments (14) Family, People & Beings, Sponsored Post

I’ve been meaning to post videos Jin has been making, but i never got to it. Till now! They’re all great storytelling about Malaysians and i’m so proud of his work.

His latest video was released on May 13th and is dedicated to all teachers. It’s a collaboration between Jin and INTI International University & College:

Touching right!

If i had to tell you of one teacher that i remember fondly from school, that wouldn’t be possible.

Because there’s a handful! I’ve forgotten all their names (cos my memory is that bad) but i remember exactly how they looked like, what they’d wear to school, and their whole demeanour. These teachers i retain in my memory, are the ones whom i could see truly LOVED teaching, and us, the students.

If i had to tell you a story about a teacher i know best – it would have to be my mother.

She started teaching as a temporary teacher in 1977 before completing her Diploma in Education in 1979. From January 1980 onwards, she was a trained teacher till 2012.ย In total, she was a teacher for over 32 years. I can’t even hold the same job for 3 years, let alone TEN TIMES of that.

When i was younger, she didn’t have me attend the same school as her cos she didn’t think it was healthy (thank God for that). Else i’d be mocked as the “teacher’s daughter”, or i’d embarrass her with my juvenile behaviour. I’m thinking it’s the latter, really. Even though i was not in the same school, i was still brought up in a strict environment and i hated it. I couldn’t understand WHY she wouldn’t let me go here or do this and that. It’s only recently that i’ve REALISED it was all for my own bloody good.

Funny it took ME so long to realize it, cos her students seem to be enlightened on her intentions while they’re still in school.

My mom told me of an incident a long time ago when the Girl Guides had a camp in the school field. They had these tasks to complete, and one of them was to ‘fetch a blue high-heeled shoe’. Nobody wanted to approach my mom cos she was one of the few teachers who had a commendable shoe collection back then (now you know where i get my fashion fetish from) and one girl thought she’d go do it. She interrupted my mom teaching a class but my mom was okay about it and gave her one side of the blue shoes she was wearing. According to school legend (haha), that Girl Guide got a Bravery Award. Oh man, i couldn’t stop laughing when i heard this story. People get a BRAVERY AWARD for asking my mom something? Daymn i should have a warehouse of awards then.

When i started working in KL, i would randomly meet girls who went to the school where my mom taught the longest, Assunta. Somehow (i really don’t know how) they recognized me as her daughter and go, “Oh i know you, your mom was my teacher!” And i’d be like, HOW DO YOU KNOW THIS.

Other times when i was socializing, I would offer up that personal information to someone who told me they went to Assunta. If she’d taught them, i usually got the response: “Puan Rose Wong is your MOTHER?!” with an alarmed look on their face while backing away. I found it quite funny and would go home and tell my mom how she instills fear in her students even YEARS after they’ve left school.

A close friend of mine, Nur, was the most dramatic in acting out how scared she was (and still is) of my mom.
She has blurted all these sentences to me:
– “Oh my God. Your mom used to scare the SHIT out of me in school. None of us would dare to be late for her class, and we’d RUN to the lab cos if we’re late, that’s it. Your mom would lock us out.”
– “How is it that you’re her daughter?!” (we’ll be out partying)
– “She’s the fiercest teacher, but the best.” (i felt quite chuffed when she said that, it’s nice to hear good things about your mom from other people!)

Jokes aside, i know how much love and effort my mother put into her lessons. For years and years, i’ve watched her mark test papers in detail, writing comments with fluorescent pens. She’d be hunched over these piles of test papers for HOURS (i’d see her doing them before i left the house, and she’s still at it when i come home). Sometimes, she’d be marking test papers for weeks. She even went so far as to devise her own science questions for every exam (she prepared students for PMR and SPM), much to their nightmares.

Even tho she’s known as a strict and fierce teacher to her students, my mom had her rebellious side against the school system (which i found heartwarmingly amusing). There came a new rule where all the teachers had to buy a specific batik cloth to wear every week. She abhorred against the concept of forcing every teacher toย buy something unnecessary, and ended up buying the least fabric possible – 1 metre. Her friends asked ‘how are you going to make a baju kurung out of it?’. She ended up sewing her own flowy short top to wear. As long as she had that compulsory fabric on her body, she said it was enough.

Throughout the years, she’s told me different stories about students who come to her with family problems, and she’d tear while telling me. The most recent story she told me was about how she was talking to this student after everyone had gone home. (My mom always wonders about their personal lives, and whether it affects their studies.) She asked this girl what her favourite food is. And the girl answered, “Gardenia bread.” My mom was confused by her answer and asked, “Why?” The girl replied, “Cos my mother says it’s expensive…” My mom felt sorry for her and pressed money into her hand, told her not to tell the other students that she gave her money, and to make sure she gives the money to her mother when she goes home lest she thinks it’s stolen.

Oh man i almost cried when she told me this story and i felt so hedonistic thinking of all the delicacies i get to buy myself. Can you imagine being so poor that your favourite food is a bread that costs less than RM3?

After teaching for so many years, my mother finally submitted her retirement forms. I’m really glad for her cos i know… she’s made so many sacrifices to ensure she ALWAYS goes to school. She wouldn’t even take certain holidays with my Dad and i (like when we went to Spain) cos she didn’t want to miss a day of school. Even when she was sick sometimes, she’d still drag herself to school so she wouldn’t miss a class.

A week before her retirement in March this year, she told me about how she scolded these few girls who never handed in a single piece of homework since January.
Mom: Never in my whole life of teaching okay, that i get students who don’t pass up homework! I scolded them and scolded them. I said “Nasib baik i’m going to retire next week, nanti i bunuh engkau semua!” [translation: “Luckily i’m going to retire, or else i’ll kill all of you!”] Me: You told them you’d BUNUH them?! Hahahahahah
Turns out at the end of class, students started crying cos she’s retiring, and even the students she scolded were crying.
Mom: I felt bad seeing them cry. Maybe i shouldn’t have scolded them so hard.
Me: Hahahahahaha

(Can you imagine all the scoldings *i* got as a child?!)

My mom’s 58th birthday came on March 28th, and she retired from teaching that day. I went over to see her and was taken aback with the piles and piles of bouquets, presents, cakes and cards everywhere in the house.

I’ve never got these many presents in my entire life! I guess it was obvious in the end that her genuine desire for students to do well outshone her ferocity.

Seeing my mom being a teacher my whole life has shown me that being a teacher is NOT easy. You’re responsible for the wellbeing of students, shape impressionable teenagers to prepare them for later life, and sometimes can’t help but be emotionally pulled into their personal problems. You want to complain about bringing work home from the office? Teachers bring their work home ALL THE TIME.

For those of us who have left school years ago, think fondly of your teachers, and send them good vibes wherever they are. For those of you still in school, never be rude or take them for granted. Teachers get bad days too. If you think about it, they’re using their time, hours, days, weeks and years to help YOU.

I’ll end this post with wishing a Happy Belated Teacher’s Day to all teachers! Past, and present.

This post was brought to you by INTI International University & Colleges.

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14 Responses to The Best Teacher I Know

  1. CY says:

    Aww this is such as lovely post dedicated to your mom? I fondly recalled having such dedicated teachers who were such gems back then especially if you compare them to our current batch of newbies that you get in school. Happy teacher’s day Puan Rose Wong! ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Avril says:

    I haven’t posted a comment here in about 5 years, but I just had to let you know, your mum taught me how to paint my nails to make my fingers look slender/longer! She showed me how she ‘cheats’ by painting most of the middle and leaving the sides (maybe 1 – 2mm) empty to give the illusion of longer nailbeds. ๐Ÿ™‚ Pn Rose Wong was the best. I was invited to the retirement celebration but could not make it due to work. Here’s wishing her all the best! I’m cheering her on to catch up on those holidays with your dad!

  3. Shivani says:

    I remember when I was in Form 3 and Puan Rose was my science teacher! We were talking about cloning and the first mammal that was cloned was a sheep named Dolly and we all thought it was hilarious when one of our homework assignment was to find a picture of Dolly Parton to stick next to the picture of the sheep, ha. After watching the video I was trying to think of my secondary school teachers that really had an impact on me and she was one of them. She might not even remember me, but she was such a wonderful teacher!

  4. Sharon says:

    OH MY GOD! I’ve been reading your blog off and on since it started and have never commented but i had to comment to this post..


    She was our class teacher way back in 1993 (Tanjung class) and I remember at Science class (the chapter on sex ed) her advise to us was;

    ” Girls ah, you all dont meet a boy, go behind the bush and than come out with a baby you know!”

    Please pass a message to her that 10 years on, her students still remember and speak so fondly of her. (despite her scaring the bejesus out of us then)

  5. Sharon says:

    JEEeezzzZZ… i just realised that 1993 is 20 yrs ago innit? hahaha..
    err.. please dont tell Mrs Rose Wong about that mis-calculation.. takut…

  6. Joy says:

    my mum was a teacher, too, for more than 30 years until her retirement in april last year.

    my family and i were invited to her retirement ceremony at school, and like you, i was simply amazed at the piles and piles of presents and flowers that students lined up to give to her. there were letters and pictures (they were primary school kids :D) and so many flowers!

    unlike you, i attended the school my mother taught in for 6 months, and it was a pretty good life being “the teacher’s daughter”. i got to eat in the staffroom everyday ๐Ÿ˜€ and still have time to play with my friends after!

    many of my mum’s students are now married with children (i met some of them) and till now, they always speak of my mum fondly.

    i’ve come across random people in my line of work who says the same thing people say to you, “cikgu wong is your mother?!”

    makes me smile. every time.

  7. Rachel Yong says:

    I just have to leave a comment to say that, you’ve got everything right in that post!

    My friends and I LOVE your mum as our Bio teacher in Form 4 and 5. We’d scramble to ensure our homework was 100% complete (with neat handwriting, no less). We literally RAN to the lab because we were so excited (afraid) ๐Ÿ˜›

    Once I think I was having a drowsy spell in her class (dim lighting + raining), and my eyelids were in that limbo of awake/asleep… She halted her teaching and said to me very unhappily, “Rachel, you are scaring me with that look.”

    I never felt sleepy after that ever again…

    And we adore and love her despite her fierceness. And I really respect her passion in teaching, a true gem of a teacher.

    I miss school!! And I was so sad I couldn’t attend her retirement day ceremony in school with my classmates, so here’s to hoping these messages get to you, Pn Rose!

    All the best and take care ๐Ÿ™‚

    Much love,
    Rachel Yong, class 5 Sc 1 of 2007

  8. JoyceTheFairy says:

    Thank you all for leaving such LOVELY comments, especially bout my mom ๐Ÿ™‚ i’m gonna make sure she reads all the comments her ex-students wrote!!!

  9. Esther says:

    Ahh I have to comment on this! My mum is a teacher (she still is) and I can relate to it so so much, except that my parents had me placed in the same school as my mum’s school. So you can imagine how my life was like. XD

    I always thought that me and my sisters we the only ones ‘suffering’ when we were young because our mum was a teacher too. Not too long ago this topic came up in our conversations, and we were all complaining about how ‘stresful’ our school life was back then due to all the ‘spy’ in school. Then suddenly, my mum, who happened to be there, told us, “You think I don’t understand that feeling? Don’t you remember that your grandfather was a teacher last time too?” and then there was this awkward silence…LOL!

    A really nice written post. Made me miss my primary and secondary school years! ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. Won says:

    I have to say something after reading this!

    I started reading your blog in 2008 and was STARTLED to find out that Pn. Rose Wong was your mom!

    I remember how all the girls in my class used to be so scared of her and on the other hand, I enjoyed her classes because she was so different from the generic teachers that I had. The effort she put in to making us do our homework, write us lab reports consistently and constantly scolding us I had recognized very early on.

    I used to enjoy speaking with her after class (for as long as I dared; didn’t want to be labelled teacher’s pet!) Had her for both Form 3 and 5.

    Almost 6 years down the road, I still think of her quite fondly, so please pass this message on to her for me! I never enjoyed Assunta very much, but she was definitely one of the people that made it more bearable. If I could, I would have gone to her retirement but I wasn’t even aware of it (plus I’m also not in the same country so cannot also hahah). Used to go back to school whenever I was in the country just to see her.

    Don’t know if she remembers me, but I definitely remember her!

    Won, Wing Yann class of 3A2 and 5 Science 3

  11. Deepa Amarnath says:

    Your Mom is also the Best Teacher I have ever known, yes she appears strict but she’s really a wonderful person at heart. I was going through a rough time at home and she was my class teacher at the time.I don’t think I wud hav made it if God hadn’t sent her my way.She got me an A in Science but more importantly she helped me realise my self worth.She truly is a blessing.with Teachers Day coming , was thinking abt sending some wishes her way.Pls pass me her email add if its okay with her of course.Tried looking her up on FB but to no avail.

    3 Tanjung,Class of ’95

  12. Isabel says:

    hello! knowing you were such a famous blogger and have been following you (especially your post on dusun and all the lovely places you have been which tempts me)

    PN ROSE DO YOU REMEMBER ME? hahaha! i really didn’t know you were kinkybluefairy’s mom:) I only remember you telling me your son’s birthday was the same as mine after seeing my key chain on my school bag:)

    Hope you’re doing well and it is really true, years after years you would say you wanted to retire but you never did and every time we science 1 met up for reunions after graduating from school, you are always in our topic of conversation:) We miss you so much Pn Rose:) especially the good old chats after class where we use to laugh (which was always not the case during the class). I would also always recall telling people that someone wanted to know about “hot flush” and you said that “Ask bel la, she would know” HAHAHA! this little things make me cherish assunta even more. thank you so much for all the good memories! hope that you’re doing well now and not having any more high blood pressure due to us rascals:P

    together with rach yong, rebekah williams, huey ting, yi may, yee mun, balqis, and the rest of class 5 science 1, 2007

    ps: thanks for passing the message to her:) and keep up the awesome posts:)

  13. Isabel says:

    sorry i meant awanmulan:P hahaha!

  14. Dash says:

    Hi! I was a student of Madam Rose Wong. I lost your mom’s contact details. Would love if you could help me! Dashini Pillai Class of 2003. Thank you!

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