Teachers’ Day 2022: Just Joined

Reading Time: 5 minutes

By Lim Zhi Qi Victoria (23S06B), Saara Katyal (23S05A), and Tang Lanyun (23S05A)

NAME: MS JUNIPER THANG
DEPARTMENT: CHEMISTRY

Y5 Chemistry teacher Ms Juniper Thang has more than a few tricks up her sleeve. Apart from being a proud Chemistry enthusiast, she also loves to immerse herself in the wonders of music and theatre. Apart from that, she has a passion for sport, and as the Soccer (Girls) teacher-in-charge, she will often join them in friendly matches.

Ms Thang’s passion for music began as a young child when she took part in piano lessons, a common beginning for many of us in the music world. As she got older, her love for music grew, and she started playing for her church. During university, a time of growth and exploration, she picked up the saxophone and began to pen her thoughts down to turn into song lyrics. She wound up writing about all sorts of eclectic topics—according to her, “that’s what makes music fun!”

Ms Thang beams with pride as she describes releasing two songs just last year. As a musician, she draws inspiration from ‘the oldies’, such as Elton John, Billy Joel and Michael Jackson. When asked on whether she shares her hobby with her students, Ms Thang laughs, saying that she tends not to bring the subject up. Nevertheless, her intrepid students have managed to uncover her discography, going so far as to jokingly quote her lyrics to her face. 

Ms Thang in her element in a guitar shop.

When Ms Thang isn’t teaching or playing music, she likes to pick up her skates and practise inline skating. Though she calls herself an amateur, after seeing a video of her displaying her skills, Raffles Press can confirm that Ms Thang does indeed have some sick moves. Ms Thang’s cool factor doesn’t stop there—perhaps due to her relative youth, she is definitely in with the times. In her short time here, she has identified and sometimes (ironically?) adopts elements of the RI lexicon like “mad gas”.

As a relatively new teacher without previous career experience, Ms Thang is on a constant quest to improve. For now, she just wants to make sure that she can deliver effective and enjoyable lessons, such that her students can walk away feeling like they’ve understood everything (a tall order for H2 Chemistry!). 

Ultimately, Ms Thang, who says she’s never met a student she couldn’t love, advises her young charges to remember to love and be true to themselves.

“Breaking out of other people’s expectations of you… it’s such a freeing way to live your life.”

NAME: MS LIYANA TAHIR
DEPARTMENT: KNOWLEDGE SKILLS (GP)

Ms Liyana, radiant as ever.

RI’s newest GP teacher as of September 2022, Ms Liyana Tahir has had more than her fair share of unique experiences. A self-described “pursuer of knowledge for knowledge’s sake”, she completed a degree in sociology before finding her calling as a teacher. As someone with a variety of interests, she has previously worked in the local theatre scene, as well as doing odd jobs in the music scene.

These days, when she isn’t busy with teaching, her favourite pastime is “Netflix and unconsciousness”. Aside from that, she enjoys crafting and doing things with her hands, including dress-making, crocheting and metal-working. As an avid gamer, she is currently enjoying Subnautica: Below Zero, and is midway through Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. 

She loves to immerse herself in books of all different genres, ranging from speculative fiction and sci-fi to fantasy and historical fiction. However, she also empathises with the reading habits of the younger generation (or lack thereof), as she sees them as living in a world that is, at all times, inundated with information. Hence, she finds the ability to extract the essential from the superfluous to be of utmost importance. 

Before she decided on teaching, Ms Liyana already knew that she wanted to work with young people, as she had hoped to connect with young people who represent a “completely different reality” from her. As a teacher, she aspires to give her students a bit more perspective on life in the “real world”. 

Ultimately, her advice to all students is to be kind. She understands that showing kindness in an unkind world is difficult, but believes all students need to live by this virtue, especially when they enter adulthood. 

Ms Liyana recognises that right now, we are all going through a period of identity-searching, which can make us confused and vulnerable. Thus, she thinks that it is all the more vital for us to seek out emotional connection with those around us over the course of this journey. So be kind to everyone that you meet, because who knows how that person may help you grow!

“You need to become a good person who is able to go out and do good for others.”

NAME: MR ZACHARY LOW
DEPARTMENT: ARTS (LITERATURE)

Mr Low expressing his dismay at having his photograph taken.

Mr Zachary Low is an unmissable presence along the RI corridors. His nondescript appearance belies his exuberant personality and easy familiarity with his students. Even in the days of the state-mandated face mask, his permanently amused expression was visible all the same. 

A self-proclaimed “nerd”, Mr Low regularly plays the popular tabletop role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons (DND for short) together with his friends. It has become a routine social event, during which his old RI buddies get to “hang out and have dinner”, in his words. The game itself he finds to be a particularly compelling bonding activity, with a good balance between serious storytelling and joking around, as well as a tight-knit fan community to boot.

As a literature teacher, Mr Low is fascinated by narratives, seeing them as the “primary means through which mankind communicates”. DND ties neatly into this, with it being essentially a choose-your-own-adventure game wherein players roleplay as epic characters and create a story in real time.To Mr Low, the exploratory feeling of playing DND is able to resurrect his sense of childlike wonder — a core element of what it means to be a nerd.

Additionally, Mr Low, in his infinite nerd pride, will not hesitate to prove his “nerd cred” to you. He will talk your ear off while watching Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movies (only the extended version, of course!), and can rattle off a list of must-read sci-fi books without hesitation.

Apart from that, Mr Low is an Old BoyTM of RI, a fact that draws a lot of interest. His old literature teacher, Ms Veera, is now his boss, something that he seems to feel no awkwardness about. “We have a very professional relationship… and I still call her Ms Veera!” 

His past days at RI have granted him a unique perspective on its students of today. When asked about the difference between RI students then and now, his expression changes into a thoughtful one, and the conversation takes on a philosophical twist. He shares that over the years, he has noticed a shift in the way students cope with the batterings of life: whereas students in his time retreated into anger and sarcasm, students now tend to laugh and resign themselves to fate.

However, Mr Low is hopeful. He offers us an unforgettable piece of advice: we can always retreat to absurdism and humour as a way of coping, but at the end of the day we must continue actively searching for hope. 

As a teacher, his greatest wish is to be able to impart this message unto his students. He hopes that his students will do justice to their potential, and selflessly love the people around them.

“Optimism can coexist with realism, but hope is something that must not be lost.”

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