Dedicated young teachers recognised at ceremony
Her application to become a teacher was rejected twice and she succeeded only on her third try in 2011.
Fast forward eight years and Ms Abirami Archunan, 31, was among six teachers who received the Outstanding Youth in Education Award (OYEA) at the National Institute of Education Teachers' Investiture Ceremony yesterday.
The award recognises young teachers for their unwavering dedication to students.
In total, 1,380 teachers from 298 schools were nominated.
When she was 12, Ms Abirami failed mathematics and her neighbour took time to tutor her. That experience resonated deeply with her.
She shared: "The assurance and guidance I received from my neighbour stuck with me, and I wanted to pay it forward to other kids."
Having been an English and a Mathematics teacher at CHIJ (Kellock) for five years now, Ms Abirami believes that she is learning just as much from her students.
She said: "They are moulding me and motivating me to be the best version of myself.
"I am really humbled (to receive the award). It is a nice affirmation to teachers and a boost of encouragement."
Echoing her sentiment is fellow award winner, Mr Lim Chuan Li, 29, a mathematics teacher at his alma mater, Temasek Junior College.
When he was 15, Mr Lim lost 95 per cent of his hearing in his left ear due to flu and fever. But with his civics tutor's encouragement, he overcame his adversity. Mr Lim said: "My tutor then, Mr Low (Kian Seh), inspired me to become an educator. He influenced the way I relate to my students."
Things have since come full circle as Mr Low was also an OYEA recipient in 2013.
Just like Mr Lim, Ms Angela Ho, a food and nutrition teacher at Serangoon Garden Secondary School, also wants her students to develop a taste for serving the community.
With her help, her students organised a community event, where they distributed healthy salads and sandwiches to residents in Serangoon.
Because her students were too young, Ms Ho, 29, took it upon herself to attend a one-week basic food hygiene course during the June holidays to become a food handler.
She said: "This showed them the importance of lifelong learning - role modelling is important for cultivating resilience and adaptability."