Students and Alumni

Where Teachers Go to Learn

Veteran teacher and school principal Christina FONG Chui-yee continues to nurture Hong Kong’s youth, inspired by her own education at CityU

Fong believes that educators need to be open-minded and keen to tackle challenges, whether updating curricula or embracing new technology.

When Christina FONG Chui-yee first enrolled at City Polytechnic (later, in 1994, the institution was granted the University title and renamed City University of Hong Kong, or CityU) in 1992, little did she know she would still be inspired by her teachers more than 25 years on. A veteran educator herself, Fong is most impressed with the professional attitude and dedication of her teachers at CityU’s College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences (CLASS).

“My teachers were very passionate and tried their best to help us understand both the theories and their practical applications. The way they taught me has shaped the way I teach. It’s like passing on a legacy,” says Fong, who studied BA Translation and Interpretation at the Department of Chinese, Translation and Linguistics (later renamed the Department of Linguistics and Translation). She was trained as an English teacher after graduating from CityU in 1995.

Fong, now the principal of Lui Cheung Kwong Lutheran College in Tuen Mun, vividly recalls how one of her teachers at CityU – in that era before YouTube and the easy availability of video material – videotaped a press release that was quoted on TV one evening to use as teaching material for the following day’s interpretation class. Originally more of a scientist, Fong studied science subjects at A-level. It was an inspirational English literature teacher who revealed to Fong the beauty of poetry and encouraged her to develop sensitivity towards language. Most of all, she thanks her final-year project supervisor for showing her how to guide a student through a piece of work while offering room for flexibility and student input.

“I realise that as a teacher you must be flexible to engage your students and help them learn better. For example, I have designed class-based teaching material that caters to individual learning needs. While there are guidelines to follow, there are also many ways to deliver what you have to teach,” says Fong.

As well as imparting knowledge, Fong believes that educators should help young people develop the right attitude and values, too.

“I used to teach in a lower banding school [for students who are academically less competent]. Many of my students came from underprivileged families and didn’t have the chance to go on to university. I tried to teach by example and show them how in everyday life we can always have a positive attitude and love our lives,” she says.

At Lui Cheung Kwong Lutheran College, where she taught for 13 years before becoming the head of school in 2017, Fong continues her mission to equip students for future challenges by helping them develop the right values and skills. Apart from learning about qualities such as love and patience in religious classes, students are encouraged to participate in activities that cultivate lifetime skills.

“At CityU, I developed important skills through new experiences, such as organising an open forum. Through joining different activities, I hope my students can be more confident, creative and better at problem-solving and communicating with others,” says Fong.

Fong not only encourages students to help organise school events such as sports days and produce school publications, but she also offers them new experiences including leadership courses, exchange programmes and community services. Implementing these programmes requires teachers’ support, especially since such initiatives often mean more work for them.

“Implementation is one of the most challenging aspects of my work as a school principal,” says Fong who believes communication is essential for maintaining a collaborative relationship with her teachers, whom she meets regularly to listen to their views and explain to them why certain resources are being deployed in specific ways.

“Often that means explaining the needs of the school as a whole as opposed to the needs of individual subjects. I am grateful for having a team that is willing to work with me and contribute ideas for the benefit of our students. We become all the more motivated when our students show progress,” she adds.

As a school principal, Fong says she needs to be open-minded and to readily embrace challenges. She reads the same books as her teachers and students do to understand more about problems they may face.

“This is a constantly-changing world. I need to be able to adapt to changes and also help my team do so too,” says Fong.

“For example, how should we modify our curricula and ways of teaching in this digital world? And as young people are exposed to an increasingly political environment, how should we engage them and guide them?”

Along the same vein, Fong advises students of CLASS to prepare themselves for the challenges ahead. Most importantly, a critical mind will help them make right decisions in different circumstances.

“We are bombarded with information every day, but can you discern right from wrong? For instance, many people use electronic payment systems without being aware of the privacy issues surrounding them. This is just an example of everyday life. Our next generation will face many new problems in life and their careers, so they need to develop the ability to make the correct value judgments,” Fong says.