ACS old boys raise funds for teachers as token of appreciation

SINGAPORE - It has been nearly 40 years since they left school, but they have not forgotten their teachers.

Since last December, 64 men who graduated from Anglo-Chinese School (ACS) in 1976 are raising money to give to the staff who taught them.

The group, which calls itself the 76ers, said it wanted to show appreciation for what its mentors had done.

The group's teachers, many of whom are in their 70s and 80s, gave up their pensions when they chose to teach at ACS, which was then a government-aided school.

Mr Goh Kok Siong, 54, remembers Mrs Katie Lee who taught him additional mathematics for two years.

"Mrs Lee left an impression on me because she was one of the few teachers who never scolded us, no matter how naughty we were," said Mr Goh, an engineer.

"She respected us and we respected her. Our teachers could have gone to fully public schools and enjoyed pensions and lifelong medical benefits, but they didn't. The funds are just a token of appreciation for their sacrifice."

Mr Goh, who has a daughter in Secondary 1, added: "They taught us old-fashioned values like loyalty and caring for one another that have stuck with me till today."

The cohort gathered for a reunion dinner at a restaurant in Dorsett Residences last night and invited their old teachers along. Eighteen teachers turned up.

Mrs Lee, who was one of them, said: "At the end of the day, it's when the students appreciate and remember us... these are blessings."

The 60-year-old, who taught at ACS for 30 years, is still a flexi-adjunct teacher at ACS (Barker Road), teaching additional maths to Secondary 4 classes.

The initiative to raise funds for their teachers was started by six old boys, including Mr Kenneth Chan, a solutions manager, 54.

"It's our way of saying thank you to them whether they need the money or not, because they treated us like their own kids," he said. "We gave them a hard time as boys, being playful and creating a ruckus in class."

The group hopes to pull in more donations by the time fund raising ends in three weeks. After flipping through old school yearbooks, they tracked down more than 30 teachers.

ACS (Barker Road) principal Peter Tan, who is also from the class of 1976, said of Mrs Lee: "It was her patience that helped us. She helped me pull up my F9 in additional maths in Sec 3 to an A in Sec 4.

"If I didn't understand, she would try different ways to explain. She never gave up."

Mr Ying Yoke Kong, 82, who taught English, maths and physical education, spent 48 years as an ACS teacher.

"Boys are boys... I was strict. I think my presence disciplined them," he said. "I appreciate it every time they invite us for reunions and events. To be remembered is good enough."

ateng@sph.com.sg

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