Benchmarking & Sharing With SMK St Elizabeth

   My school is deep in the interiors of Sarawak & one of the drawbacks of such a setting is a young teaching staff without much experience. Take myself for an example. This is only my 5th year as a teacher & yet I'm regarded as a grandpa here.
   Due to our location, no experienced teachers, Guru Pakar, or Guru Cemerlang would want to make the long journey here to speak to our high-need students. Even the lauded ETAs have found it implausible to base themselves in the primary schools of our area. Honestly, they could get the same brownie points by just doing what they do at more accessible schools. There is a high demand for such talks all over Sarawak & our school is not able to offer comparable incentive to attract these specialists.
   Which brings me to ask, WHAT IS THE NEXT BEST THING?

   If nobody wants to come, we will GO.
   We, the teachers, will pay our own way to GO, LEARN & BRING BACK all the speciality knowledge required to best equip our students for the biggest exams of their lives.
   Yes, nobody wants to come here. Yes, higher ups rarely call us, interior school teachers, to trainings. But, we will not make any excuses. We will take responsibility for our students's development. We will do our best to give them the best education we can.

   Who will want to receive such a group of obscure teachers from an unheard of school?
   The truth is. Very few. Most principals of better performing schools can't be bothered to entertain guests from an unknown school when they receive so many visits from illustrious organisations every year.
   I was, however, very fortunate to have made the acquaintance of the principal of SMK St Elizabeth, Sibu, who stood outside in the elements one Friday afternoon & welcomed us to his school like VIPs.
   This school is an exemplary high performing school. It is amongst the top 10 schools in Sarawak. #1 or #2 if you discount the SM Sains-es & SM Agama-s where they recruit & enrol high-performing students. This school is a just common secondary school which moulds its students into top students. Something that we can emulate.

The school staff, the principal & the prefects lined up to welcome us like VIPs.
p/s: Spot the Project X t-shirt! I'll write about it soon!
We were treated to a delicious lunch at their canteen. We had just arrived in Sibu by boat & we were very hungry.
Later on, we were given a tour of the school premises. We were shown the Memorabilia Room, the park in the middle of the school, classrooms, Teachers's Office, Principal's Office, etc.
Then, we were ushered into the Meeting Room where we had our Sharing Session between teachers.
St Eliza's teachers were very generous in sharing their expertise. Many of them had years of experience under their belts & many were examiners or past-examiners. We learned so much from them.
Very gracious. The staff & their leaders. We were very thankful.
Many of our teachers were pleasantly surprised at what was shared with them. They left with big smiles on their faces.
   Honestly, even at our own school, not everybody believed in what we were doing. There were teachers teaching core subjects at our school who did not see the value in taking part in this program. It is their loss & the loss of their students. Fortunately, we had enough teachers to cover for those who could not or chose not to attend. In this way, we made the best of this opportunity for our students.
   Some teachers have already conducted workshops while others are planning to do so. One advantage of having a young teaching staff is their energy, drive, as well as their willingness to learn & serve. I could never have chosen a better group of teachers to work with.

   Is your school in a similar situation? Perhaps this is something that you could do for your teachers who are really receptive? Just an idea. It does not take big people to make a big difference. Just big hearts.

View all the pictures here.


  1. This is great :) I hope when I become a teacher and be posted to rural areas, I will be determined enough to not give up on my students and do everything I could make the best out of them!

    1. Are you a secondary school student?
      It's great that you want to be a teacher. It helps to have a better reason than cari makan.
      And I'm sure you'll be determined & all that... After all, everything starts with a dream.

    2. I am a TESL teacher trainee currently studying at Kent Teacher Training Institute:) During our 'praktikum' in a few years time we might be posted to rural areas so I hope I can stay as passionate as you for this teaching career! *thumbs up*

    3. You can be even better than I am. You are young. You have limitless possibilities.

    4. Thank you for saying that :)

  2. I especially like this quote “If nobody wants to come, we will GO.”

  3. Looks like you are having a fun time, but also very busy eh?

    Anyway take good care!

    1. Since I'm going to be busy, might as well make it fun, eh? =)
      You take care too!

  4. As the old English proverb goes, "IF the mountain would not go to Mohamad, Mohamad would have to go to the mountain." :)

    1. I guess we learn something new every day. This phrase actually exists to mean accept the inevitable.'t_come_to_Muhammad


  5. It takes a big heart to do this.. I admire every effort you put into your profession.. : )

  6. -"One advantage of having a young teaching staff is their energy, drive, as well as their willingness to learn & serve. I could never have chosen a better group of teachers to work with."-

    When I read this post, I had this sense of deep pride welling up in me. It was a little weird so I took a step back and came back to read it again. 2nd time reading, I felt the same way still.

    After reflecting I realised that the sense of pride comes from the fact that many times young teachers get overlooked and creative initiatives that they want to do/take on gets shot down. To see Katibas teachers taking the step to make the difference is very very refreshing & encouraging.

    As for St. Elizabeth's school; to step up and lead the way in bridging that gap, I have nothing but the utmost respect for them. *salute*.

    Throughout this time writing this comment, I keep thinking about the verse that was shared with your students from 1 Tim 4:12: "Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity."

    Keep up the good work Jik Kam. Being young should never be the answer why we cannot/should not do things.

    1. Thanks for the affirmation, Sarah.
      You are right about young teachers getting shot down. Most times it's because seniors are jealous of all the extra perks enjoyed by the young ones which they did not have during their time. Also, sometimes the seniors are afraid that the younger ones will outshine or overtake them.

      In Katibas, I make it a point to include the teachers who are willing to work for the students regardless of age. They work the most but are usually the ones who face the firing squad. I'm giving them a family where they can receive support & backup whenever they need it.

      I want to see them grow & I don't care if they become better than me. Of course, I'll feel envious but, well, our people & country benefits.
      It is such an environment that should be in ALL schools.

  7. A great experience indeed! Keep up the good work! :)

    1. Thanks, LP! Hope you're having a great year!

  8. hey it's good that you teachers are taking the initiatives to work thing out!

    keep it up dude ;)

    1. Will do. Thanks for the encouragement, Constance!

  9. ooo St E. Thanks for showing me my old school :)

    It had been a long time.. way too long ..

    1. It's really something now. A truly amazing school. It was a privilege to visit.


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