Sunday, May 16, 2010

Still a Teacher at Heart...

Miss Yeo Kim Eng—50 years in BBGS as a student and teacher.

Pang Hin Yue (Class of 1982) catches up with retired BBGS teacher, Miss Yeo Kim Eng,who has a gift of boosting the self-worth of her students. Her house is always filled with former and present students who gather there for class reunions, choir practices or English classes.

With 50 years in BBGS, first as a student and then a teacher, Miss Yeo Kim Eng is iconic to her students. Besides imparting knowledge, Miss Yeo gave her students a sense of self-worth and helped them overcome their fear of speaking in front of the class

She might not have studied psychology but she certainly knew how to suss out her students, paying attention to those who needed the extra nudge to step out.

“I could tell if a student had issues about self confidence. I would assign her tasks that made her feel important,” she disclosed when we met for lunch at her house that still retains the old charm of Petaling Jaya.

It was certainly true in my case. My weekly assignment was to deliver her record book to the principal’s office. With Ms Yeo’s encouragement, I felt honoured to perform such a duty.

“Ambidextrous and Kleptomania

As her reputation as a strict teacher preceded her, any student worth her salt knew not to commit the cardinal sins of mucking around and being slothful. To ensure her message was clear, she taught us the word, “alert” on our very first day in her class.

It is to her credit that my vocabulary increased. I learnt such words as “ambidextrous” and “kleptomania” during her English class (1980, 3S) and subsequently, discovered the thesaurus because of her devotion to improving her students’ command of the language.

We each had a “Vocabulary” exercise book and we took turns to share new words we learnt with our class. We had to note down the meaning of the words and construct sentences with them. The weekly exercise of speaking in class and the annual choral speaking competition certainly helped me when I worked as a journalist years later.

Commanding voice

Miss Yeo embraced diligence and excellence as a way of life and she expected her students to do likewise. There was little room for idle chats as we had to pay rapt attention to her every word. We never knew who would be called to answer questions!

To Miss Yeo, every student is worthy of her attention. By the end of the first week in her class, she would have memorised her students’ names and called them a few times in her commanding voice.

The respect she gained from students over the years remains strong. It is not unusual for her former students to stream into her house for class reunions. Miss Yeo can still remember their names and recall their antics in school!

Inspiring students

“One of my ex-students found it both strange and privileged that she was sharing a room with me when she stayed overnight!” recalls Miss Yeo with glee.

If Miss Yeo has inspired many students, it is because she had exemplary teachers in BBGS who made a deep impression on her. She inherited a legacy that is grounded in love: to serve others, be disciplined and do the best in big and small matters.

She was specially touched by Miss Mary Glasgow who became BBGS headmistress in 1947. “I saw how she reached out to students and how she carried herself with such humility and grace,” says Miss Yeo.

Two Red Eggs

Whether she was teaching the top class or not, Miss Yeo gave her best and relished the times when she taught students with learning issues.

She recounts a heart warming incident in which a student gave her two red eggs as a token of her appreciation. “I received it with much joy, touched by her sincerity,” says Miss Yeo.

Although Miss Yeo retired in the 1980s, there is no stopping when it comes to sharing her wealth of knowledge. These days, not all her students are from BBGS. “My door is always open to welcome students who wish to gain knowledge,” she says.

A true BBGSian, Miss Yeo was instrumental in translating our school song fromEnglish to Bahasa Malaysia. In everything she does, she is guided by ourmotto: Nisi Dominus Frustra.


  1. I remember Ms. Yeo as a very strict teacher but at the same time very dedicated in order to bring out the best in her students. She gave her best and she expects her students to do likewise. I have been blessed because God had put her in my path.

  2. She is a legend. I'm very honoured and blessed to have experienced being taught by such a world class teacher. Her spirit of excellence is very clear and distinct in every lesson. I'm very blessed.