Inspiring Teachers Awards: ITE became 'It's The Effort' thanks to Mrs Goh, now my friend of 21 years

Regardless of whether Yanni was struggling in secondary school, the Institute of Technical Education (ITE), polytechnic or in life, it has always been Mrs Lynette Goh whom she turned to.

Mrs Goh taught Yanni mathematics and Computer Application at Ngee Ann Secondary School. The former teacher, 45, is now a stay-at-home mother.

It has been 21 years since their paths crossed and the two remain good friends.

Here is 34-year-old Yanni's entry for the Samsung-Stomp Inspiring Teachers Awards:

"At the end of 1996, my PSLE results was released. I was streamed to Normal Technical. We were always known as the students who do not work hard or study. I had been failing mathematics since Primary 3.

"When I started secondary school, I strived to work hard to get into Normal Academic. I missed my first chance in Secondary 1. Even though I studied hard, my results were only hovering around 60 to 65 and I barely made it in mathematics.

"I progressed into Secondary 2 and this was the turning point in my life.

"My mathematics class was taught by Mrs Lynette Goh. She was a new teacher posted to teach my Normal Technical class.

"I still vividly remember how she started teaching in dialect during one of her lessons to engage us. The lesson she was teaching was algebra. She managed to get the class to focus and brought the concept across in a clear manner.

"A week later, there came a surprise class test. I was shocked as I was not prepared for it, but I gave my best. I received my test paper a week later and to my surprise, I scored full marks!

"This was one moment I will never forget. I understood that I had to work twice as hard as I am a slow learner.

"Mrs Goh made mathematics enjoyable and less scary for us. Never once did she give up on us, the Normal Technical students.

"From that day on, I put in double the effort so as not to let Mrs Goh’s efforts go to waste.

"I did extremely well for my Secondary 2 year-end examinations and was eligible to be promoted to the Normal Academic stream. However, I decided to stay on in the Normal Technical stream to continue with my Computer Application class.

"It was a tough decision to make, having to choose between chasing my passion in Computer Application or chasing the O-Level paper.

"Knowing that I was always looked down upon due to the stream I was in, I struggled but decided to chase my passion.

"Throughout my secondary school years, Mrs Goh stood by me. She knew that I lacked confidence and always encouraged me to push beyond my limits. She believed I could go far with my hard work when I did not even believe in myself.

"I graduated secondary school and went to the Institute of Technical Education (ITE). During that period, ITE was known as 'Its The End', the term popularized by the Jack Neo movie.

"I understood that this was the path I chose, but I was struggling in class. I wanted to give up so badly.

"However, Mrs Goh stood by me and continued encouraging me, never once doubting that I could not succeed. She urged me to never give up on my goals so easily and that in life, nothing is easy. I had to work hard and press on towards my goals.

"I earned my NITEC certificate after two years and qualified for polytechnic. ITE become 'It’s the Effort' for me. The effort put in had paid off. ITE was my stepping stone into polytechnic.

"In polytechnic, I had problems managing E-maths and C-maths. I approached Mrs Goh for help in these two modules. She readily agreed to guide me.

"However, unknown to me, she was on no pay leave to handle her own family matters. Still, she made time to coach me. It is a time, for which I can never repay her. With her guidance, I managed to pass those two modules and graduated with a diploma.

"When society thought that I was hopeless and that it was the end for me, Mrs Goh never once gave up on me. She taught me to work hard in life and to never give up easily. Mrs Goh invested her life in me and used her life to mould me.

"I was a lost ship in the big ocean, she was the light house that guided me. When I needed an anchor when life was rough, she was the anchor to hold me down and to guide me when I was ready to move on.

"She is a teacher, turned mentor and friend over these past 21 years. Not only did she guide me in my studies, she also guided me in my life.

"When I encountered issues at home, she lent me a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on. When I met with problems at work, she told me tough times don’t last but tough men do. She saw me through my ups and downs for the past 21 years.

"I knew she was an athlete during her school days. I invited her to join me for races every year and she has never turned me down. She will always find time among her busy schedule to do it with me.

"We may not be running a full marathon, but a short 5 or 10km race a few times a year. I have learnt that the journey through the race and finishing it together is more important than the timing itself.

"Not only did I encourage her to stay fit through running, she introduced me to rock climbing to build trust and confidence in me.

"Every few months, we will meet up to catch up on each other’s life and to play a board game called rummikub. It is a board game that works around numbers. And she being my former mathematics teacher, all the more it excites me to enjoy this game with her.

"She knows I enjoy travelling and encouraged me to try solo traveling for a different experience. She didn't just throw me this idea and leave me to handle it on my own. She guided me on how to plan everything down to every last detail. She even made sure to check on me daily when I was travelling solo.

"I am proud and glad that I am blessed with her in my life. No matter how many times I thank her, it will never be enough for all the effort, time and heart work she invested in me.

"Thank you, Mrs Goh for guiding and believing in me. It matters that someone not related to me believed in me, when society did not.

"Sometimes, all it takes is one person to change another life. Friends and colleagues around me are always taken aback when I shared how my secondary school teacher made an impact in my life and stayed on to be my mentor and friend.

"The seeds that Mrs Goh sowed has grown into a seedling and this seedling is now paying it forward by sowing seeds into other people’s life as a catalyst of change."

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.