Inspiring Teachers Awards: I was desperate, broken and suffering inside -- but Ms Yong saw through me

When Yuan Teng struggled with her studies in the English language in Secondary 4, it was her primary school teacher, Ms Stephanie Yong, whom she turned to.

Ms Yong, currently 42, taught English, Math and Music in East View Primary School for 15 years. She told Stomp that she now works at the Ministry of Education (MOE)'s headquarters.

Yuan Teng, now aged 24, said: "I have always heard of Ms Yong ever since Primary 1. She was my choir teacher when I was in Primary 3 and my music teacher in Primary 4.

"In Primary 5 and 6, I was fortunate enough to have her as my form teacher."

Here is Yuan Teng's entry for the Samsung-Stomp Inspiring Teachers Awards:

"I could never truly understand the amount of love, limitless patience and effort a teacher needed to put into her teaching in order to see a student succeed.

"This is the story of someone who inspired me to embody the values she taught and showed me and has since become the cause of my aspiration.

"During my youth, I would often take my teachers for granted, claiming that ‘they are only doing this because it is their job as a teacher’.

"I struggled with the English language and always have, and Secondary 4 was no different.

"That year was an important milestone in my academic life and things had to change. I tried frantically to source for all ways and means to help myself improve in that subject and when nothing seemed to improve the situation, I became desperate and broken.

"When I casually confided in Ms Stephanie Yong, my primary school teacher, about my worries, she readily volunteered to help me with my troubles, despite having a lack of knowledge on the current syllabus of Secondary School level English herself.

"During weekdays, after having spent a long day teaching, she would selflessly stay late into the night to meet up and guide me along in the subject – just to ensure that I would perform well for my GCE O Levels.

"I was extremely relieved and touched that she would offer me help without hesitation and to such an extent, without asking for anything in return.

"Academics aside, Ms Yong was there for me in other aspects – physically, emotionally and spiritually. She was always able to see right through the strong front I would put up and know that I was suffering inside. She would take some time out of her day to find out what was wrong and cheer me up.

"From actively reading and responding to my journal entries back when I was 11 to ensuring that I had my formulas right before I stepped into the exam hall for PSLE. From wiping all the tears I shed after a rough day in school to cheering me on at my GCE O Levels. From watching the different performances I’ve put up in school and at events to witnessing the day where I put on the mortar board.

"Ms Yong has invested countless hours into aiding me out of kindness and selflessness, nurturing me into the fine lady I am today.

"No matter rain or shine, she would always be there to catch me when I fall, believed in me when nobody else did and would do anything and everything to help me achieve something.

"Ms Yong is not just a teacher to me; she is my counsellor, a mother, my friend, a great role-model, and undoubtedly the greatest inspiration to me in wanting to become a teacher just like her.

"After my GCE O-Levels, I started pursuing Early Childhood Education. In addition, I also had the chance to tutor some Primary School students outside of my tertiary studies.

"All of these experiences have put me in the shoes of my teachers and have made me realise how much hard work they put in on a daily basis – imagine those who offered their services even after school hours! They are the unsung heroes who have guided children into the successful adults they are today.

"I have been so blessed with the gift of knowing a great person and, now, having the chance to become a role model for children, I want to fulfil my own prophecy and repay the kindness shown to me.

"Today, I am a teacher and I am driven to inspire the children the same way I was inspired by Ms Stephanie Yong."

Have a teacher you want to nominate? Find out how to join the Samsung-Stomp Inspiring Teachers Awards here.

Read all entries for the contest here.