The first thing that strikes you upon meeting Ms Khor Swee Moi is how at ease she makes you feel. Helping others shed their shyness and muster the courage to share, learn and grow together, is second nature to this affable teacher of 12 years’ standing.
“I believe that one of the biggest setbacks to students’ progress in their studies is their reluctance to ask questions. When they have doubts about what they are studying but are afraid to ask questions to clarify those doubts, they would be stuck in the rut and not learn anything new. I make it a point to gently remove that barrier and gradually ease them into opening up and taking those bold steps forward,” says Ms Khor, whose passion for teaching was sparked back in 1986, when she was at the impressionable age of 10.
A native of Kuala Kurau, a small fishing village in Perak, Ms Khor recalls how a primary school teacher inspired her to take up teaching.
“It was the start of Year 4 when a teacher came to our class – considered one of the weaker ones – and declared: ‘Though some teachers may have shied away from being your Form Teacher, I have taken up the challenge and will be here for you and grow together with you for the better.’ Under her caring guidance, our class transformed into an exemplary one, winning recognition for excelling in various areas, including good attitude, academic achievements, cleanliness and co-curricular activities,” says Ms Khor, who graduated from Universiti Teknologi Malaysia with a B.Sc. in Computer Science and Education, majoring in Chemistry. She has been teaching Form 4 and Form 5 Chemistry since 2000.
An active volunteer in community service work even in her secondary schooldays and throughout her varsity years, Ms Khor was naturally drawn to the Nalanda Free School programme. Teaching Chemistry to “exam-year” students, she has seen her first batch of Fifth Formers through their SPM, coaching them till just two days before their paper!
“It has been an amazing year for me at Nalanda Free School, just being there for the students from start to end, and seeing them change from shy teenagers to confident lads. The challenge was in getting to know the individual students, understand where they are coming from, and earning their trust, so that they get to learn not only the subject, Chemistry, but also the ‘chemistry’ of living well.”
“At the end of the year, the students treated me just like a friend, and we even had our pictures taken together and put on Facebook. One of them SMSed me right after his last paper, which happened to be Chemistry, with the message: ‘Thank you, for teaching me.’ I was deeply touched. Truly, what more can a teacher ask for?” adds Ms Khor.
We wish Ms Khor the very best in her second year of teaching at Nalanda, and may that special ‘chemistry’ of hers rub off on us, too!