Ten years ago, Jack Chong, whom I had know from his university days in the department and in the Biological Sciences Society, signed up 30 Secondary two and three students from Woodlands Ring Secondary School for the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore at Kranji Mangroves. Together with other groups, 278 participants removed 2,673 kg of trash (excluding bulky items) in 368 trash bags on 8th September 2001!
But Jack never came back!
You see, with that experience under his belt, Jack initiated the mangrove cleanup in the northeast of Singapore at Loyang Mangrove – now, Woodlands Ring Secondary is a 11-year veteran of the coastal cleanup and this year once again, Jack will lead 120 students to the shore to protect the mangrove and they will learn about marine life, the impact of marine debris and how all of us can make a difference.
Jack and Woodlands Ring Secondary are a fuss-free, competent organisation, address holistic educational goals, register and submit data painlessly each year. The present Northeast Zone captain, Ng Kai Scene, always speaks of them with a smile!
We have known all this while that Jack is a very busy man at school, working industriously and whole-heartedly. So he is mentioned warmly at meetings but I have probably not spoken to him for almost a decade!
Well I stumbled across some pleasant news today – Jack received the President’s Award from Singapore’s President S R Nathan this evening! This is the highest honour for educators and the newspaper report reads:
Photo by Pauline Chong
“Five teachers who have displayed exceptional dedication to their profession have been awarded with the 2011 President’s Award for Teachers.
They are Madam Dianaros Majid from Haig Girls’ School, Ms Serene Han from Montfort Junior School, Madam Chua Mui Ling from Woodlands Ring Primary School, Mr Ganesan Raman from Fairfield Methodist (Secondary) School and Woodlands Ring Secondary School’s Chong Jack Sheng.
This annual award established in 1998 recognises the commitment of teachers towards the development of their students and to nation-building, and is the highest honour for educators here.
Said Mr Chong, 37, a Biology teacher who also heads the Character and Citizenship department in Woodlands Ring Secondary: ‘I feel blessed and honoured to have been given this award. I felt quite overwhelmed initially but now that this has sunk in, the reality is that pursuing excellence in teaching is what I do, with or without an award.
‘I want to continue to help my students and nurture them to their fullest, even beyond their fullest potential.’
The winners received the award from President S.R. Nathan at the Istana on Friday evening. “
Woo-hoo! Congratulations Jack, from all of us at the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore, past and present!
In celebration, I dug up some photos from his 2001 foray in Kranji Mangrove, from before Kranji Nature Trail was opened and it was no man’s (state) land. As you can see, we had some fun in those days, just getting to and from the site!
Meanwhile, is Jack resting on his laurels? His wife writes, “Jack’s going down to set up site for ICCS tom! Busy busy busy!”
Jack Chong, Woodlands Ring Secondary
@ ICCS Kranji Mangrove, 8th September 2001.
Woodlands Ring Secondary School students
– they would be 24 and 25 years old now!
Jack and the ICCS Kranji team supervising
the water crossing in the rising tide.