14 Years ago…

The year was 1993. I was in form 2. Young, ambitious and in one way or another, a quite ‘obedient’ student.

The system practiced by our school at that time was to segregate students into classes during English lessons and also additional maths based on individual proficiency. The main yardstick at that time was of course our results in written internal examinations. But of course, there was no additional math in form 2 (only form 4 and 5).

When it was time for English, we all had to move around and make our way to other classrooms where the lesson was to be held. There were 6 English classes – namely Set A, Set B… up to Set F. Set A was the so called ‘intelligent’ group of student whereas Set F .. well… Set F is Set F, hehe!

Every year or half year, there would be a reshuffle so that if you did not meet the standards, you’d be transferred to a lower class (from A to B, B to C and so on) and if you showed good progress/exceeded expectations, you would be promoted to the better classes (from B to A, C to B and so on). There would even be double promotions and also double demotions (eg : Set C to Set A ; Set D to Set B). This would all depend on how you’d do in the internal exams.

If you were in ‘Set A’, it would mean that you belonged to a group of intelligent students who could understand and speak the language fluently, did extremely well during exams (meaning it was rare that you would get a B for English during any exam because if you did, the guys in Set B would somehow look sheepishly at you) and were the cream of the crop + you’d be the very few people in the school who would be able to understand high class jokes published in the Readers Digest at that point of time (those days, having access to the Internet was considered a luxury and besides, the modem connection was only at 14.4kbps compared to the 1 MBps and beyond that we enjoy today!)

But then again, some ‘Set A’ ers also had the notion that being smarter than the rest of the other students in the entire form meant that they could ‘escape’ from doing their homework on time and walk with their heads up high.. looking at the clouds & daydreaming (now this is of course referring to the upper forms, not the 2nd formers … ehm ehm..!)

Yours truly was ALSO in Set A. (Form 1 all the way to Form 5). No big deal of course.

Anyway, the students of Set 2A (‘2’ refers to the 2nd formers at that time) were indeed a great bunch! Smart, ‘creative’ (please note the inverted commas!), talented, vocal, funny, witty, and full of character. And that could only mean 1 thing : they must’ve had an outstanding teacher… And we truly did!

Her name was Sharon Ann Ovinis… we all called her Ms Sharon (meaning at that point of time, she was single, hot, available, hot and a damn good teacher!). Ms Sharon grew up and went to secondary school in Seremban before furthering her studies way up in Canada back in the late 80’s.

She had been teaching our class since we were in form 1. In my personal view, those days, what made Ms Sharon different from my other previous English teachers was that she tried her best to develop the true potential in each and every student. She was there to educate and try to bring out all the talent, character and intelligence we had inside us.

Among her methods of doing this was before every lesson, one of us would be given 5 minutes to talk about anything we wanted to. It was some sort of public speaking practice, to just talk in front of everyone. Of course that might sound like a piece of cake today, but when you are 14, the world around you seems too small a place to be able to ‘think out of the box’. Why, there might not even be a ‘box’ in the first place!

Another way was by having an impromptu discussion – she called it the ‘Mad Discussion’ whereby two students at a time would be selected and given a piece of paper. And then, they would be given several rounds to argue why their given subject (which they would only know when they’ve opened up that piece of paper previously handed to them) was better compared to the opponent’s. Eg : Shoe Lace vs. Pencil ; Coconut vs. Apple ; Car vs. Motorcycle. Mad you say? Well, you’re getting the idea.

In the 1st methodology, I saw the opportunity to overcome my fears, build my confidence and eventually enhance my public speaking skills. In the 2nd methodology, I saw the opportunity to fight for something that I believed in and to air my personal views in the most creative but logical possible way.

This was all due to Ms Sharon. And it was also in 1993 that Wira Budiman (Budi) & I were selected to represent the school in the English debate.

I can go on and on about what happened during 4 years of debating but that is  of course another story.

Last April was a real treat for Budi and me since it was the first time in 14 years that we have seen Ms Sharon. I had no idea that day that it was her that I was going to meet and yes, it was a total suprise, all thanks to Budi who set up the whole meeting.

The place was Starbucks, Midvalley where the “god! you still look young and energetic” and “wow! you guys look sharp and tacky” and we later moved on to Chillies. Our ‘reunion’ which was supposed to be just lunch lasted for more than 5 hours.

So, you can imagine that the discussion was about almost every other thing under the sun because 14 years had gone by.

Life is short. Whenever you have the opportunity to sit down with old friends, acquaintances etc, ‘just do it’. Coz waiting any longer might rob you of that opportunity. And to all my exteachers out there whether in Malaysia or anywhere accross the globe, Happy Teachers Day!

Better late than never. That’s what education is all about.

3 Responses to “14 Years ago…”
  1. Nazir, she is not single anymore, isn’t she?

    p/s: I was in set E, 14 years back (it is pronounced like A too, he he)

  2. cepr says:

    gosh.. i thought she was married back then.. i remember she and someone i presumed her husband drove me to some event, in some school outside of the city….

    Had i know she was single, i would have made my move that time….. ekekeke…

  3. Budi says:

    Nice piece of nostalgia there, Naz.. Mmm, our meeting that day wouldn’t have been made possible if u hadn’t agreed to meet “a friend of mine”.. So U made it possible, Bro.. hehehe.. BTW, I’m now at Prakash’s place and going through 3 weeks of emails.. The coincidence is, Ms Sharon baru je mesej aku tadi and said she just started her new job today as a Newspaper-in-Education (NIE) Executive for The Star Publications, Menara Star.. Hope all goes well for her..

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