Lesley-Anne and I have dedicated quite a few Danger Dan books to teachers - it's our way of publicly showing our gratitude. Since it's Teachers' Day this Friday, I thought it would be fitting to pay tribute to teachers in this post, specifically, two of Lesley-Anne's teachers who have been inspiring mentors in her writing journey.
The first is Ms Heng, Lesley-Anne's JC1 Lit teacher. This teacher basically grew Lesley-Anne's appreciation of Lit ten-fold with her intellectually stimulating lectures and tutorials. Apart from that, she intuitively understood Lesley-Anne's reflective temperament and encouraged her to express herself. When I first met her at the parent-teacher conference last year, I was struck by how she seemed to "get" Lesley-Anne, despite having taught her only for a few months.
Titbit: we dedicated Secrets of Singapore to her!
Here she is at her own book launch which she invited us to. She's a poet and writer herself and had published a book co-authored with three other writers.
Thankfully in p6, Ms Lee advised her to put aside the model compositions and to find her own voice. Even though Lesley-Anne's language use was much simpler than the generally preferred bombastic language at p6, Ms Lee recognised her potential and continued to encourage her efforts. From there, Lesley-Anne's love of writing bloomed and she developed her personal writing style, which till today, leans towards simplicity and clarity.
Lesley-Anne credits Ms Lee in her school talk when she speaks about her writing journey. However, we had long lost touch with Ms Lee as she had left Lesley-Anne's primary school and we didn't know where she had gone.
Then in July, we conducted a talk at North Vista Primary School. After the talk, a teacher excitedly bounded onto the stage. It was Ms Lee! What serendipity! It was a very special moment for both of them.
Sabah earthquake earlier this year come to mind.
For this, I would like to wish all teachers a very heartfelt and happy Teachers' Day. May your work continue to inspire and bless those who cross your path.