JOHOR BARU: A discipline teacher from SMK Seri Kota Puteri received a special award from the Johor Education Department for turning life around for an 18-year-old student who used to sleep at a snooker centre.
Suraya Abdul Rahim, 38, was honoured for her selfless effort in nurturing Farah Marcella Bandi – who was suspended from school a few times for playing truant – into a student who scored 6As, 1B+ and 1C+ in last year’s Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) examination.
Farah often skipped classes and even flunked her tests since joining the school in Form 3.
When Farah did not turn up at all for her SPM trial exam, Suraya decided to visit her home.
“Previously, they sought shelter and slept under the cashier’s counter at the snooker centre where her mother works,” Farah said after the award ceremony here yesterday.
Despite objections from colleagues and friends, Suraya welcomed Farah into her home to give her a more conducive environment to prepare for SPM as she saw potential in the girl.
In the span of two months, Suraya watched over Farah like a hawk, making sure that she went to school and completed her homework and revisions.
“Thank god it all paid off. When she got her examination results, we both hugged each other and broke down.
“It would have been a shame if we had let her be because although she faced so much hardship, she is smart, polite and never spoke ill of her mother,” said Suraya, who has since “adopted” Farah as her daughter.
Suraya has been teaching for 13 years and also has four daughters of her own.
She said she often advises her children to learn from the example set by Farah, who has proven that anything can be achieved with effort and the right mentality.
Farah, who is still staying with her, has received full scholarship offers from the Education Ministry and a couple of private universities, and is now considering her options.
When Farah’s plight was first highlighted, she received a lot of attention after her story went viral.
She started working at 14 to support her family after her father walked out on them a few years ago.
When Farah was in Form 2, she helped out at her friend’s stall at the Bazaar Karat night market here. -star