Life is a balance of work and play for Ms Winnie Lim, as she takes lessons out of the classroom to introduce her students to the world of sports.

As a physical education (PE) teacher at National Junior College (NJC), she is delighted that she is able to simultaneously pursue and share her passion for sports.

Discovering her calling

Ms Lim graduated from Nanyang Technological University with a business degree. However, she chose to pursue a career in PE instead, a path less travelled by her peers.

Upon graduation, she attended various interviews for positions in marketing and teaching. She realised then that the nurturing environment teaching offered was what she was searching for. This led her to take on a contract teaching position to discover more about such a career path.

The year she spent in West Spring Secondary School teaching PE and lower secondary mathematics helped Ms Lim reaffirm her decision to become a teacher.

“I enjoyed the rapport I had with the students and derived much satisfaction from making an impact on others,” says the 32-year-old.

More than a lesson

In her world of sports, Ms Lim goes beyond the teaching of theory, game strategies and tactics.

“When I teach a sport, such as tennis, my objective is not to groom a great tennis player. Rather, I aim to teach my students a sport they can play with their friends.

“It is always worthwhile at the end of the day when the students have learnt a skill or when they are able to guide their peers next time.”

Her desire to contribute more to her students’ education led her to take up a Master of Science (Exercise and Sports Studies) degree, a course that was heavily subsidised by the Ministry of Education (MOE).

Says Ms Lim: “I studied the implementation of adventure education in schools. This provided me with theoretical support and knowledge to develop adventure education programmes.”

A broader landscape

A netball player in her school days, Ms Lim enjoys her role as teacher in charge of NJC’s netball team. Also the subject head of the Community Involvement Programme (CIP) and Adventure Education department, Ms Lim’s portfolio allows her to focus on developing students holistically.

The various community service adventure trips she embarks on are a source of many unforgettable experiences for her. She recalls a mountain climbing expedition with students in Nepal two years ago: “There were two girls in the group who did not seem like the outdoor-loving type. Their friends even said they would not be able to last till the end of the trip. However, not only did they reach the summit, they were the ones who kept the group’s spirits high.

“I later found out they had taken the initiative to train at Bukit Timah Hill before the expedition. I was touched by the students’ readiness to make the best of the experience. It was a good example of not knowing what you can achieve unless you try.”

Looking ahead

Despite the challenges of teaching, it is ultimately a gratifying career. The lives of Ms Lim’s students are a testament to the difference she has made.

“They mature as individuals, change for the better and live out the values inculcated to them during their time in college. Students who continue to be actively involved in the community and find meaning in doing so make the effort behind teaching and organising programmes worthwhile.”

For all those who are interested in following in her footsteps, Ms Lim advises: “Go into education for the right reasons — for the sake of the child. Don’t see yourself as just a teacher, but rather as an educator who guides, mentors and inspires others.”