TEA for two . . . and a current pun
The old Chinese saying that good things come in pairs is certainly holding true at City University's English-language centre.
When English-language tutor Penny Akers, 47, scooped one of CityU's Teaching Excellence Awards (TEA) for 2008-09, she was just the second member of the centre's staff to gain the accolade - the first being her life partner Dean Fisher.
And now the couple are planning a holiday with her HK$15,000 prize money, hot on the heels of a trip to the Malaysian resort of Kota Kinabalu last month to celebrate Mr Fisher's award. A personal holiday is one of three approved uses of the prize, along with buying equipment and attending a conference.
Award winners also receive an HK$150,000 grant to undertake a research project.
Ms Akers was picked from among 1,600 teaching staff across CityU and went through a rigorous selection process to win one of three awards issued this year.
Candidates have three of their lessons observed by the selection panel, must give a 10-minute presentation and take part in a 20-minute interview. Their teaching evaluation records are also scrutinised.
'I was really, really thrilled,' she said. 'I believe the highly practical style of training for English-language teachers equips you with the skills to be a good teacher. I think the key thing is to take a student-centred approach and I believe personal contact with the students is a very important part of the teaching process.'
Mr Fisher said: 'Because I was the first person in my department, it was very special when I won the award. But when Penny won this year, it really put the icing on the cake. We have been living together for 21 years, working in nine schools across four countries.'
Fellow associate head Stephen Bolton said: 'TEA for two is the pun currently circulating in our staffroom.'