Our wonderful, long-serving maths teacher Weymond Fong has sadly announced his resignation in order to continue his missionary work in the Philippines. We talk to this legend around the corridors of the school, a long-serving guru of education who’s a hit with Year Sevens and magic with mathematics.
The best way to demonstrate ‘as the crow flies’ is to walk in a straight line over the desks in the classroom. And do you know how many Year Sevens you can fit in a cubic metre?
It’s questions and tricks like this that Weymond has picked up over his teaching career and turns to his advantage in maths classes.
“I always ask ‘who doesn’t like maths?’ at the beginning and half or two thirds will put up their hand. For me the challenge and enjoyment is in changing their perception, bringing the class alive, trying to make it enjoyable, and helping them understand something they didn’t understand before. I may not make them all expert mathematicians, but I can turn them around and make them open to learning.”
Mr Fong has always taught a Year 7 class; he says his background as a primary teacher helps. He believes Year 7 students need patience and clarity – “they take every word as gospel” – and good training for later on. “You need to know your students, know when to be tough and when to give leeway. I try to avoid ambiguity or anything that’s confusing. You don’t want to plant anything that someone will have to undo later on.” He won a national award for middle school teachers for independent schools.
He’s also a Dean, a role that calls for judgement when applying the rules. While it’s the parents’ job to be their child’s advocate; he says it’s the Dean’s role to appreciate any mitigating circumstances and use their intuition on a case-by-case basis. Students who know you’re fair and have their welfare at heart will do anything for you, he explains.
Mr Fong will spend next year in the Philippines with his wife, training people who work with underprivileged children. It’s work they’ve done each April and Christmas in Baguio for the last eight years; but next year will see them venture into more remote areas of the country. Having spent ten years working with drug addicts and homeless people in Hong Kong before becoming a teacher, he is well prepared for the work, which he describes as “really satisfying.”
Now in his 16th year at ACG Parnell College, Mr Fong last year received a long-service award. What’s kept him at the school for so long? “The students are very good, not perfect by any means, but I find them courteous, and their parents are supportive of what the school is doing. We work very hard, but it’s very satisfying. There’s always been good leadership and good values. There’s a real integrity about the way things are done here.”
Mr Fong is a teacher of Maths, Faculty Coordinator for Middle School Maths and Year 11 Dean. He’s been married for 37 years and has a daughter who is also a teacher at ACG Parnell College.