Hong Kong primary school teacher’s ‘love letter’ to pupils shows care that goes beyond classroom
Spirit of Hong Kong Award nominee Wong Wai-chu says the children tell her everything, including when they lose a baby tooth
In a “love letter” to her pupils and their parents, primary school teacher Wong Wai-chu talks about how she spent her Christmas holidays, thanks the adults for helping with school activities and gently reminds the class not to leave their exam revision to the last minute.
When it comes to engagement with pupils and their parents, whom she sees as family, the mathematics and general studies teacher is tireless. She regularly writes to her charges and communicates with their parents.
“I love my students. I want to be with them and see them grow,” Wong said. “Some of my first students have just entered university.”
In her classroom at Tin Shui Wai Methodist Primary School, where Wong began her teaching career 16 years ago, palm-sized photographs of the current crop of pupils in cartoon-style crowns can be found on the walls. Artwork featuring class activities adorns the surroundings.
“The children tell me everything. They would come to report to me that they lost a baby tooth,” Wong said. “Some of them have come to visit me after finishing their primary school studies here.”
The educator is one of the nominees for the South China Morning Post’s Spirit of Hong Kong Awards this year. Her name was put forward by the Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union in the Compassion Ambassador category, which honours people who serve and help others passionately.
Wong said she felt a strong sense of responsibility towards her pupils.
“I take care of their studies, their personal development and even their diets,” she said.
She once tried to talk a pupil out of eating junk food while pointing at the child’s waistline.
“Young children are vulnerable. Therefore teachers must have self-discipline and be careful with words,” Wong noted. “Hurtful words could leave an imprint on a child’s mind forever.”
She said many pupils in Tin Shui Wai – a new town in the northwestern New Territories – come from troubled families.
One child was abandoned by her parents and had to stay with a relative, Wong said. “There was no one she could address as ‘Mother’.”
The teacher teared up as she recalled how the pupil became very attached to her and called her “Mum”.
Wong said that she too did not have an easy time when she was growing up.
“I was never a high achiever academically. I started late as a teacher,” she said, adding that she viewed teaching as a lifelong career.
“Education can make a difference,” she said.