As seen in the TV commercial and inspired by a true story, read about how one teacher's perseverance gave hope and turned the life of a troubled student around completely. Today, the student, Glenn, is a successful youth ambassador and recently re-united with his teacher who made a difference in his life, Mr Kumar. Both of them shared their thoughts and experiences here through their personal perspectives.
With the encouragement of mentors around him, one of them being Mr Kumar, Glenn walked out of his darkest days and made good of his life.
An Interview with Mr Kumar
Q1: How do you feel about meeting your former student, Glenn, seeing how he has changed for the better and made good of his life?
I am really happy that he has turned his life around and is making a positive impact on the lives of others. I am really impressed with all his achievements.
Q2: Glenn describes you as a firm but caring teacher. How do you strike a balance between both?
It is a question of making pupils reflect on the choices that they make and the subsequent consequences. If I can convince them to take responsibility for their choices, the battle is already half won.
The other half is to get them to work out solutions to their problems and how I can be instrumental in helping them.
Q3: As a senior teacher who has been in the education scene for 36 years, what were the biggest challenges that you had to face and how did you overcome them?
Sustaining my interest in teaching was one big challenge. Teaching the same subject year in and out and sometimes to the same level of students can become monotonous. I tried to overcome this by changing approaches to the same topics and looking for new materials. Attending courses also helped.
One of the biggest challenges of course will be teaching difficult pupils. If I find that I cannot resolve the issues concerned, I will refer them to the school counsellor.
Q4: 'Teaching is more than a job, it is a calling', as many would say. Can you share with us what gave you the greatest satisfaction as a teacher?
I know this sounds like a cliché, but when you hear your students and ex-students tell you (sometimes years later) that you had impacted them in one way or another and that you had made a difference in their lives, it makes your day and makes teaching as a career all the more meaningful.
'When you hear your students tell you (sometimes years later) that you had impacted them in one way or another, it makes your day and teaching as a career all the more meaningful' - Mr Kumar.
Mr Kumar has been an educator for 36 years. He continues to make a difference to young lives and currently teaches at Ahmad Ibrahim Secondary School.
An alumnus of Ahmad Ibrahim Secondary School and former student of Mr Kumar, Glenn, walked out of his darkest days after being encouraged by mentors around him, one of them being Mr Kumar.
An Interview with Glenn
Q1: From a troubled youth to the successful youth ambassador you are today, tell us how did your teacher, Mr Kumar impact your life and what was the defining moment that you will always remember him for.
Mr Kumar has a different approach when it comes to dealing with difficult students. I was one of them. When people around seemed to have lost confidence in me, Mr Kumar stood firm, and maintained his authority when dealing with me. Despite that, he was neither demeaning nor condescending.
Although Mr Kumar was disappointed with me at times, he gave me room to redeem myself. Always encouraging me to take small steps towards changing my behaviour for the better, he never lost patience in guiding me.
Mr Kumar restored me to who I am today. I remember vividly, his transformational statement that sowed a seed deep in my heart,
'Only you have the power to change your life.'
Glenn used to be a rebellious youth with a troubled past.
Q2: Describe any other encounters you had with Mr Kumar that made an impression on you.
Mr Kumar was a man of few words, but his presence spoke volumes. As the famous adage goes, 'still water runs deep'; Mr Kumar was a prime example of a soft spoken man whose words were filled with insight and truth.
Mr Kumar was a close confidante, a father-figure, someone whom my classmates and I deeply respect and admire.
Q3: We understand that you embarked on a search for Mr Kumar in 2011 after losing contact with him for over 20 years. What prompted you to do so?
I was approached by a production company that was producing a webcast series of inspiring reunions. My present day success is due to many significant people who believed in me when I was a rebellious youth, and one of them is Mr Kumar, my mentor and friend in Ahmad Ibrahim Secondary School (AISS).
Thankfully, after a search, I reunited with Mr Kumar in my alma mater. It was a joyous and meaningful moment for me.
Q4: Please complete this sentence: 'If not for Mr Kumar, I......'
If not for Mr Kumar, I would not have believed there was any good in me.
Glenn is a motivational speaker who is passionate about creating a positive impact on the lives of young people. He has been recognised for his efforts in youth outreach and rehabilitation.
Glenn serves as a youth specialist consultant and works closely with community agencies as a youth advisor currently. A multi-award winner, Glenn has been recognised for his efforts in youth outreach and rehabilitation. As an inspiring role model, Glenn is passionate about creating a positive impact on the lives of young people.