Tuesday, April 24, 2007

A Tribute to Yuan Ching Secondary School:'Gangster School' fights back with lots of heart- ST Mon 23rd Apr 2007

This is what it means to be something more:
"Mr Gomez himself canvassed Jurong Point Shopping Centre, Jurong Entertainment Centre and Jurong Superbowl for support, handing out his namecard to store managers and asking them to report truants. Few schools go beyond their gates to enforce discipline, but for Yuan Ching, it was a matter of survival. Backed by community help, the school's teachers buckled down to work. They had lunch at Jurong Point and patrolled the neighbourhood to nab loiterers and misbehaving pupils. "
Students in the beginning may have cursed and swore at the Principal and his staff for being so 'extra' and 'kaypoh' - but look where they are now. They have turned themselves into something that everyone can be proud of.

"Former principal Chong Hoi Neng, now head of Pei Hwa Secondary in Sengkang, recalled: 'The focus was very clear. We channelled everything into academic results.
'We decided everything else was unimportant, so we did not chase awards or medals at competitions, or put up musicals or exhibitions.'
Teachers ran extra classes after school, and homed in on improving English. It worked: The school, which had only a 57 per cent pass rate for English in 2000, managed 96 per cent in 2002."

It is vital to be able to prioritise what is important and what is not: sometimes we cannot have everything. Victorians, we have a rich heritage of CCA but let us not forget that education consists of learning AND studying (notice I said, studying, not performing well in exams). So in a matter of survival, sometimes less is more. For us, we have the luxury of having more options but there is much we can learn from Yuan Ching's example.

But the part of the article which really hit me in the heart was this:
"Mr Gomez said: 'We told parents: 'We have nothing to offer you. Our school is old, our discipline is bad, we have no stellar results to shout about.
'But we will care for your children. We will bring the school up. Take us on faith."

Faith and care.
It is rare in this day and age to admit to weakness and for a school to say that it has nothing to offer in academic results and discipline, is tantamount towards career suicide.
It's true, without academic results and discipline, in our educational landscape, you really have nothing to offer.
But look at their next line!- 'But we will care for your children. We will bring the school up. Take us on faith."
With Faith and Care, therein lies EVERYTHING that teaching is supposed to be.

"Looking back, Mr Gomez believes the school succeeded in pulling itself up because of 'heart'.
He said: 'We have a group of passionate and dedicated teachers who decided they would pull out the stops to save the school. No one wanted to see it closed or merged."

This is our inspiration, both as students and as educators-
How far are we willing to go to make something more of ourselves,
To prove to the world that we are not content to be mediocre,
That we are not content to let the world pass us by,
That we will not let someone else decide our fate for us.
That we will hold our lives in our hands and together make a difference.

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