22 October 2016
Vincent Cheng said his career choice was no act of rebellion. He wanted to be a teacher because he loves teaching youngsters. Photo: HKEJ
Vincent Cheng said his career choice was no act of rebellion. He wanted to be a teacher because he loves teaching youngsters. Photo: HKEJ

How this headmaster found his calling

He could have been a doctor or full-time biochemist but Vincent Cheng decided to be a school teacher.

“I simply followed my heart to do what I enjoy,” Cheng said.

Cheng is the headmaster of the Jockey Club Ti-I College.

It is the only government-aided school that enjoys 100 percent discretionary placement for Form 1 students.

In order to gain admission, Primary Six students must attend an interview and pass an aptitude test.

Applicants for the sports stream must pass a physical while candidates for visual arts are required to submit their portfolio for evaluation.

The school is notable for producing elite athletes to a point where it is sometimes mistaken for a training academy, especially with its close proximity to the Hong Kong Sports Institute.

“We are not so different from other schools, except that every student has to choose either visual arts or sports as an elective,” Cheng said.

Students enjoy longer learning hours and more resources for their chosen subjects.

This is not the first time Cheng has had to explain.

Often, his choice of career leads him to retrace his steps to make sense of it all for the benefit of others.

Cheng said scoring nine distinctions for all nine subjects in the Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination never occurred to him but it was a life-changing event.

After the A-level exam, he was expected to pursue medicine at the University of Hong Kong but he did biochemistry instead at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

After completing his masters in philosophy in biochemistry, he surprised everyone again by becoming a secondary school teacher.

“I don’t think I was rebellious. I simply followed my heart and do what I enjoy. A lot of people told me Hong Kong teachers have to shoulder great pressure and endure terribly long work hours. But I love teaching children.”

During his university studies, Cheng took up many outdoor sports such as climbing, orienteering, mountain biking and canoeing, becoming a license holder for adventure training.

“I was not quite a bookish nerd and benefited a lot from extracurricular activities and social services at King’s College,” he said.

“Extracurricular activities enhance my students’ problem-solving skills and their ability to face adversity, which would be crucial for their future.”

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Oct. 3.

Translation by Darlie Yiu

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Principal Vincent Cheng poses with the newly admited students during the school orientation day. Photo: HKEJ

Vincent Cheng says he benefited from extra-curricular activities in his college days. He wants to encourage students to take up outdoor activities. Photo: HKEJ

HKEJ writer

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