He was fierce, and one look from him would have us shivering with fear. It was a cheeky habit for us to lean back and wobble on two legs of the chair. For doing that, Mr. Kempson Wong would parade us in front of the class - and make us stand there balanced on one leg. "You shall do what you did to your chair, using only half of what you've been given." And I was the only girl to be put on parade.
But he was a great narrator of stories. Our English lessons included 'story telling'. Mr Kempson Wong would sit on the chair, with all of us kids seated on the floor in front of him, and he would tell us a story without having to refer to a book at all. He did it so well, modulating his voice - the volume, the inflections, the pace and the pitch - according to the tenor of the tale. His eyes and arms and hands and shoulders would move with the mood of the story. He had us glued to the floor, all eyes gazing in attentive rapture at his face. What a teacher!
Our favourites were the stories from Greek mythology. And the story of 'Jason and the Golden Fleece' had me skulking to Mr. Wong's next class just to hear him telling it all over again. What a nut-case!
He was strict, he was fair and he made us push ourselves to the limit - especially for Arithmetic.
Besides being my class teacher he was also in charge of my House, Keppel House. I used to tag along behind him like a happy puppy during House Practice.
|Red Arrow: AsH. Brown Arrow: Mr. Kempson Wong|
The caption reads - Keppel House - "The Champs" 1955 P.P.S.I
|Back Row: 2nd from left Ang Hock Kee, 5th from left Ng Kian Ann, 6th from left Mr. Kempson Wong.|
Front Row: 2nd from left AsH's kid brother Mustapha
In the autumn/winter of one's years we tend to look back on our springs and summers with nostalgic joy.
My one regret was my failure to say thank you to teachers like Mr. Kempson Wong, Mr. Chia Wai Chee, Mr. Chong Khim Siong, and Mrs. Tan Choon Lan. In 1968, during my second year of teaching I went to Kaki Bukit Secondary School (if my memory serves me well) for a meeting. I entered the Teachers' Common Room and there he was, Mr. Kempson Wong, right there in front of me! We looked at each other, stunned. And what did he do?
He waggled his finger at me - just like the time he shoo-ed me to get back to my class - and in his unforgettable crisp and powerful voice, he said, "You are Maznoor! What are you doing here?" The smile on his face was full of pride, just to see his ex-pupil from long ago. I must have beamed like the bright morning sun - just to see my teacher again.
Like a magpie I treasure the memorabilia from days in Pasir Panjang English School. And here, from my Record Book is Mr. Kempson Wong's notations on 11 year old Maznor bte Hamid when she was in Primary IV 1955.
Dear Mr. Kempson Wong,
Thank you, sir.