Cut out for teaching

With a keen interest in economics since junior college, Mr Roysmond Sim had hoped to become an economist.

After his A levels, he secured a place in a direct-master’s course in financial engineering on a Nanyang Scholarship.

His path looked set. But all that changed when he tried his hand at teaching and discovered his passion.

Mr Sim recalls: “During my national service (NS) days, I realised that I wanted a career that could make a positive difference in this world. On top of that, I am quite extroverted and enjoy human interaction.”

He decided to try out teaching through the Ministry of Education’s (MOE) Teaching Internship Programme (TIP) after completing his NS to get a feel of what it was like.

He was assigned to Montfort Secondary School where he had a very challenging but enriching time.

Hailing from a background of elite schools, it was an eyeopening experience for Mr Sim to understand the struggles and obstacles that his students had to deal with.

“I began to understand that teaching was not only about the head but also about the heart, especially when dealing with difficult students,” he says.

From the heart

After TIP, his heart was set on teaching as a career. He chose to pursue a Bachelor of Science (Education) and NTU-NIE Teaching Scholars Programme (TSP) by National Institute of Education (NIE), Nanyang Technological University (NTU), and was awarded the Teaching Scholarship (Local) by MOE.

Part of the inaugural batch of students in the TSP in 2014, Mr Sim chose the programme because it offered him the chance to develop himself not only as a student, but also as a teacher.

The programme’s key feature is that besides providing students with a strong foundation in their chosen subject, such as physics, it is also focused on developing and nurturing students with a passion for teaching to take on the role of an educator.

Mr Sim continues: “Once I was sure of teaching as my career path, the question to answer was: ‘Would I rather have four years of teacher training or a year which was the usual path through the postgraduate diploma in education programme after completing a degree?’

“For me, with the various opportunities offered by TSP — such as overseas exchange, overseas teaching internship, leadership development, and even an internship opportunity at an education-related organisation — the choice was simple.”

The 23-year-old, who majors in physics, is now in the third year of study in the four-year direct-honours programme.

He recently returned from a semester exchange programme at San Diego State University in the United States and an international practicum at Sweden.

He also completed a five-week internship at MOE’s higher education division where he was involved in the outreach efforts for the new Science Centre.

“The NIE scholarship and programme offer me the opportunity to develop myself as a leader and a teacher, and to be better equipped to make a positive change to the education system of Singapore,” he says.

The best part about teaching, he adds, is that he is given the opportunity to be a role model to his students and is in the position to influence them positively.

Mr Sim continues: “I just hope that I can be a positive influence on my students, to develop their love for learning and give them the guidance to become responsible and sensible adults.

“I feel that my students who grow up to be productive and virtuous contributors to society would be my greatest contribution to the education sector and to Singapore.”