A picture of Teacher Sam, a secondary math teacher in Sri Emas International School.

Faces of Sri Emas: Teacher Sam

Please tell us a little bit about yourself

I am the awesome Tr. Sam, I hail from the land of Subang Jaya and have resided there for the last 37 years. My highest achievement in education is a degree in photography which I received from The One Academy (talk about a 180 degree shift yeah?). After graduating, I gained experience in a lot of other fields, ranging from helping my father in his bowling alley, to being an account executive cum copywriter for 2 well-known design companies, to selling airtime on RTM, being in sales in the government sector and working in insurance.

My life took a turn for the best when I was offered the chance to become a teacher here at Sri Emas International School even though I was quite hesitant as I didn’t really know what subjects were best suited for me. In my interview, I suggested primary Maths and secondary English and even a stint at sports! (laughs)

How long have you been teaching at Sri Emas and which subjects do you teach here?

I got my start with primary Maths and secondary English three years ago and I was happily teaching the primary kids and assisting a teacher in English until 2 months later I got the shocking news that a secondary Maths teacher was leaving the school. His replacement position was offered to me and I took on this challenge in uncharted territory. It was a place way out of my comfort zone and the rest is history, as they say. Now I’m a very happy teacher teaching Maths to the years 7 and 8 and I’m slowly branching out to the upper secondary maths just so I can follow my kiddos all the way. And I love every minute of it.

The subjects you are teaching now, were they your favourite ones at school?

When I told my parents I was going to be a Maths teacher, they laughed at me and asked if I was serious. Maths was generally my weakest subject throughout my school years and hence I made the jump to arts. But I guess as I grew older, the theories and methods just clicked. (laughs)

There are plenty of misconceptions about what being a teacher is like. So what would you say is the hardest thing as a teacher?

To me, there is nothing hard about being a teacher. Our job is just to guide the little ones on their journey to broadening their minds, much like how we were at their age. It’s all about understanding them and I always try to put myself in their shoes to understand how the kids do things, their logic and their emotions. In a way, I try to remember how I was at their age, and what would I would have done in a certain situation.

What made you pick a career in teaching in the first place?

I honestly did not pick this career. It chose me by giving me a chance to work with kids. I will never ever look back again, I have found my calling.

If you weren’t a teacher, what profession would you have pursued?

Everything to do with sales…sadly

What do you think makes a good teacher?

A good teacher is someone who is able to be a good student as well. We were all once a kid and a teenager. We shouldn’t try to be the adult to the kids, they already have that from their parents at home in all likelihood. Let’s be their friend, an older brother or sister and a mentor. Let them learn from their mistakes, and let’s not judge. It makes for much better learning if we can just be there with them and for them.

What would you say has been your favourite moment so far as a teacher?

When the kids get their “Aha moment”. That’s priceless!

What’s the most challenging thing as a teacher?

When the kids don’t understand a problem but pretend to understand or worse, just don’t care. We always have to weed out this problem.

That about wraps it up for us but as always, we’ve got one last question: If there was only one thing you’d want your students to take away from you, what would it be?

I want them to remember that I will always be there for them. I want them to remember that silly teacher who always made them laugh and was always there for them.

Wise words, Teacher Sam. Thank you very much!

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