Sharing Experience with Love 共享經歷‧傳承愛
郭健基老師(Mr Jonathan Kwok)，相信他給予各校友不同的印象。在你心目中，他是穿白短褲的體育老師？魔鬼教練？課外活動負責老師？學生會領導人？玫瑰崗上的「爸爸」？ 還是一位在三十多年來腰圍不會超過二十八吋的鐵漢？
郭健基老師是1978年正式加入玫瑰崗當教師的，而最初他是負責教授體育科和英語科。至今郭Sir仍十分回味著他剛剛開始在玫瑰崗教書的日子：「我真得十分感激當時的校長謝天仁神父(Fr Xavier)對我十分愛護，尤如自己子侄一樣。我記得他經常跟我下班後一起去買體育課用的體育用品，之後我們經常一起去吃晚飯，那段日子真的很開心。Fr Xavier對我很信任，當年是他委任我負責課外活動的。」此外，郭Sir亦十分感激Fr Xavier的繼任人范士豪神父 (Fr Francisco)的信任，委任他當年負責中學部的內部架構改組，最後成功地將原來超過三十個小組分成為五個組別。
除了上述兩位神父外，郭Sir特別在訪問中提到另一位在他教學生涯中能不提的重要人物，他就是當年在玫瑰崗中學部同樣教體育科的Mr Patrick Lung。「雖然龍Sir是我的上司，但他對我從沒有架子，尤如兄弟一樣，他在工作上非常信任，讓我在體育科方面能毫無顧慮地隨我的想法去發揮，並全力支持我去制定體育科的課程範圍、教師指引等，令體育科老師能有一套系統去教授體育科。」
除以上提過的工作外，令郭Sir感到自豪的事是在1979至1980年度他聯同多位老師（關治邦老師、陳漢欽老師、徐耀祥老師、劉連芳老師、蘇彩姸老師、孫美英老師和Ms Amy Lo）在中學部創立了六個社。另外，他亦有份在學校二十五週年銀禧紀念時參與開創師生同樂日，讓學生和老師透過這一年一度的活動增進大家的友誼。
不說不知，郭Sir熱愛體育外，他亦十分熱衷藝術方面的活動。例如他在2006年在一個名為Rainbow Connection的學校音樂會中擔任監製一職，當時反應十分熱烈。該音樂會九年後在2015年再度在跑馬地社區會堂舉行，郭Sir在選曲、演出安排、票務各排和支出各方面均有參與。「我希望透過由已畢業和現役學校合唱團成員組成的Rosarian Singers，可以讓這個音樂節目一直傳承下去，與一眾老師、學生、校友和家長分享Rosarian Singers的美妙音樂。」
八十年代的舊生其實對郭太應該不會陌生，因為郭太 Ms Doris Cheung當年亦曾經在玫瑰崗中學部任教體育科，學生們在她背後均稱她為「靚女Miss」在訪問過程中訪者們均對郭Sir郭太太的愛情故事十分有好奇，追問當年如何追求郭太太，郭Sir只道：「其實我們第一次正式傾談是在一體育科會議中，當時我們還為各自的看法不同各持己見呢！」後來郭Sir終於向我們透露當年他的學生以他名義送花給Miss Cheung，幫他發動攻勢，結果他們在相識一年後，1985年正式拍拖，並在1991年共諧連理。
Interview with Mr Jonathan Kwok
Sharing Experience with Love 共享經歷‧傳承愛
A Beloved & Dynamic Teacher
What images do you think of when talking about Mr Jonathan Kwok? A PE teacher in a pair of white shorts, a Geography teacher, a devil coach, a diehard supporter of student council, a leader of extra-curricular activities, an inspirational mentor, a father figure, or simply a man who can keep his slim figure for over three decades?
After having taught in the Secondary Section of our alma mater for 37 years, our beloved Mr Kwok reluctantly retired in the summer of 2015. His reluctance arose from his strong passion for teaching and care for students, which had made RHS an integral part of his life. Having worn different heads in RHS, this dynamic and sometimes unorthodox teacher has touched the hearts of countless number of students inside and outside classroom. The record-breaking retirement dinner party with over 650 guests attending on 11 July 2015, organized by RHSOSA for both Mr Robert Kwan and Mr Kwok, speaks for itself his charm and popularity.
Many of us feel close to Mr Kwok with him taking a special place in our hearts. But, how much do we really know him? In this candid interview, Mr Kwok shares with us his childhood, school, career and even love stories.
Born on 3 December 1954, a time of turmoil in the Mainland China, Mr Kwok was urged by his loving mother to escape with his father and younger brother from the famine in China in 1962. Mr Kwok recalled, “We stowed away on a small boat smuggling ourselves to Macau and then Hong Kong. Arriving in Hong Kong at age 8, we settled in a subdivided flat in Causeway Bay with over 10 tenants living under one roof.”
Mr Kwok studied Primary One at Buddhist Wong Cheuk Um Primary School in 1964 and secondary school in Queen’s College. His early years were a bit bumpy. Yet, when the going gets tough, the tough gets going. He had no complaint at all and even said proudly, “At that time, my father was an architect, but not earning much. To make our ends meet, I started tutoring younger students to shoulder the family burden. I tutored Primary Four students when I was only Primary Five. I was later benefited from the word-of-mouth as a Queen’s College student when finding a tutor job.”
With such a busy schedule to earn money and study, how could Mr Kwok find time to develop his sport skills? When was his athletic talent discovered?
Not shy about his talent, Mr Kwok said, “It came naturally to me. I was well-rounded, good at different kind of sports, like running, swimming, football, volleyball, basketball, hand ball, etc. I ran very fast, lightning fast.” He added, “I didn't know swimming at all in Form One. Having learnt the skills, I became very good at it and started to teach swimming in Form Two to earn my pocket money.” Mr Kwok disclosed that he gave private swimming lessons since then until he became a RHS teacher years later.
Blessed with natural athletic talent, there was no surprise that Mr Kwok was selected for his school’s athletic team. “My teacher in primary school discovered my potential for field and track, and I started my athletic life in Queen’s College,” he said. Instead of showing off his tournament championship records, Mr Kwok expressed his admiration for the master-apprentice system in coaching. “We were under tough training by our devil coaches. But, we were all happy as a team and aspired to becoming our si-fu.” To illustrate, “It’s like in the trade of bamboo scaffolding where apprentices worked closely with their scaffolding master to acquire the skills.”
Road to becoming a Teacher
After graduation from Queen’s College, Mr Kwok furthered his study in Grantham College of Education in 1977. When asked about his mindset for teaching, Mr Kwok revealed, “I was indeed inspired by my private athletic coach who was a PE teacher. Like my si-fi, I love to share what I learned. I enjoy the human interaction. Also, teaching provided me the incentive to earn money for my family at that time. ”
One may be surprised to know that Mr Kwok was major in English, with PE and Geography only his elective subjects at Grantham College of Education. Also, he was actively participated in The Hong Kong Federation of Students (HKFS). Together with other HKFS members, he led the first student sports team to the Mainland for competition and exchange after the opening of China.
Regarding his road to RHS, Mr Kwok explained, “While I was preparing for Year Three in Grantham College, a friend of mine asked if I would be interested in teaching at RHS. I was not actively looking for a job at that time, but I guessed it’s no harm to give it a try.” Subsequently, Mr Kwok attended an interview with our then Father Principal, the late Father Lionel Xavier. He recalled vividly what happened after the interview, “That night my landlord picked up the phone in our common living room and shouted across the corridor, ‘Ah Kee, a gwei lo called you!’” Being budget-conscious, Mr Kwok quickly worked out his balance sheet and accepted Fr. Xavier’s offer over the phone.
It is no coincidence that Mr Kwok indeed came from a family of educators. There were 48 teachers from the relatives on his mother’s side. The amazing number attracted the media’s attention and his relatives were interviewed by a Guangzhou TV station reporter years ago.
Embraced by RHS Family
Mr Kwok was assigned to teach both PE and English subjects when he first joined RHS in 1978. He still remembers many sweet moments in his early years in RHS. Expressing his heartfelt gratitude, he said, “I am deeply grateful for the kindness of Fr. Xavier. He treated me like his son. He would join me to buy PE equipment and then treat me dinners. He put his trust in me and let me in charge of extra-curricular activities.” Equally, he is grateful to Fr. Francisco, the succeeding Father Principal, for entrusting him with the reform of the school administrative structure in the late 1990s. Mr Kwok headed the task force to restructure and scale down over 30 committees to five offices, which has become the current administrative structure. “It was a challenging but rewarding task,” Mr Kwok said with a contended smile.
Another person who made Mr Kwok feel like home was Mr Patrick Lung. “Lung Sir was my supervisor. He treated me like his brother. He was willing to teach me, give me room for developing the PE curriculum, the teacher's handbook, to establish a systematic way to teach physical education.”
Due to his active participation in inter-school activities as a student and later as a teacher representative of RHS, Mr Kwok acquired the skills for convening meetings. He loves to hold meetings and write proposals to put his ideas into action. Mr Kwok has his own philosophy about meeting. “Meeting is an efficient way to brainstorm and stretch our minds to resolve issues. It’s a great opportunity to train us to think out of the box,” he said.
In the academic year of 1979-80, Mr Kwok joined hands with a few other teachers, including Mr Robert Kwan, Mr Damen Chan, Mr Tsui Yiu Cheung, Ms Cathy Lau, Ms Amy Lo, Ms So Choi Yin, and Ms Betty Suen, to establish a house system. In 1984, he helped to make happen the first Teacher-Students Day to celebrate the silver jubilee of RHS, which has become an annual warm-hearted event for students, teachers and alumni coming together to connect and share joys and laughers.
Creative and unorthodox ways of teaching
With the trust of both Father Principals and his supervisor, and numerous exposures to various new ideas, Mr Kwok was enthusiastic about proposing different creative ideas to the school management and bold to make changes. He initiated the Inter-House Cross Country Competition in the academic year of 1979-80, which was started small in the first year as a mini-marathon and took place in Tai Tam reservoir (before moving to the Peak).
He was the pioneer to introduce the “Go One Mile” and cheerleading sessions to Sports Day to enhance the atmosphere of the sporting events. “I see the Sports Day as a festival for everyone, not a day event for the top athletes. It’s a mass sports event, a topic for everyone to discuss and get involved. And the “Go One Mile” serves that purpose, as every participant is required to run four laps to score points for their House. There are no winners or losers. It’s important to create the atmosphere, a habit to carry on from year to year.” He said proudly, “The idea of “Go One Mile” is unique and was reported by the media twice.”
It was also Mr Kwok who created the awards for Sports Boy and Sports Girl of the Year to motivate the athletes.
Mr Kwok took over the Student Leadership Training Camp in 1990, which was a turning point for a change. Considering that the camp was a training ground for student leaders, he took the opportunity to reform the training format from counselling-based to adventure-based. “It’s something like group dynamic where students work together to accomplish a narrow range of goals within a specified time period. The training created positive energy,” he said fervidly.
Watershed Moments of Student Council
Among all the extra-curricular activities, Mr Kwok spent a good portion of his time on Student Council. He became the advisor to the Student Council in the mid-1980s. Largely because of his active participation in student affairs in his youth, he strongly believes that students should have a sense of responsibility toward their community.
Mr Kwok recalls two important moments in Student Council, “In 1988, I submitted a proposal to Fr. Xavier for converting the glass room in the basement into a permanent office of Student Council. Fr. Xavier could see through the glass door and welcomed the move. It was also in the same year that students took part in the election under a “one-man, one-vote” basis.” Needless to say, Mr Kwok was the driving force to launch the campaign for universal suffrage.
The second important moment was the amendments to the Constitution of the Student Council. “I worked closely with the 1989 Student Council committee members during the summer to amend the Constitution line by line in order to better define the role of Student Council and each committee member, as well as to set out the meeting procedures.” His roadmap was to enhance the status of Student Council to become a truly representative body and work in partnership with the school management for the benefits of both the school and students.
Mastermind of Extra-curricular Activities
Mr Kwok was involved in myriads of extra-curricular activities; for instance, The Hong Kong Award for Young People (AYP), formerly known as The Duke of Edinburg Award Scheme. One part of the program was expedition, where he led the participants to take the challenge of hiking and wild camping with backpacks over the weekends and during school holidays.
It was an admirable task worthy of big applause, but often got unnoticed, for teachers like him to spend their spare time on students during their leisure time. Instead of sitting cosily at home, he chose to join his students and do assessment during the tough journeys, which often took place in a windy and rainy day. Many of the participants of extra-curricular activities like AYP were actually not taught by Mr Kwok in any classroom subject, but magically they could build a close relationship outside the classroom.
Unknown to many, there is an artistic side of Mr Kwok. With multiple talents, he took up the role of producer of Rainbow Connection, a music concert started in 2006 with the latest one held in 2015. Mr Kwok was in charge of overseeing songs selection, stage performance and project finance. “I hope this event could carry on and establish as a tradition for teachers, students, alumni, and parents, coming together to enjoy the music by our Rosarian Singers, comprising both former and existing school choir members,” he said.
An Enduring Legacy
As a believer in the master-apprentice system, Mr Kwok sees there is more in a teacher-student relationship. “My si-fi in secondary school pushed me to go beyond my limits. Yet, I looked upon him, as he could bring the best out in me.” Following the footsteps of his role model, Mr Kwok acted as a tough coach, yet also a motivator, to encourage his students to strive for better, build endurance and bond closely as a team. He believes that the close interaction could build not only a strong team but also an enduring relationship.
To sustain the sense of belonging, Mr Kwok has organised regular gatherings in particular for the athletic teams over the years. He delegates the coordination work to a senior alumni acting as a big brother to connect with his juniors. He is proud of the strong bond among the teammates and delighted to see the eternal flame. Yet, from another perspective, Mr Kwok himself is indeed the glue that holds students from different years together.
With his devotion to school and student activities (such as sports teams, student council, extra-curricular activities, even wedding banquets of graduates), one may wonder how he could find time for his family. Mr Kwok admitted that, “Inevitably, there were conflicts at some points. But my family members were very tolerating. In fact, they were touched by the atmosphere of the 11 July retirement dinner and became even more understanding.”
Students in the 1980s would know that Mr Kwok’s wife is Ms Doris Cheung, who was also a PE teacher in RHS with an enviable nickname “pretty woman” at that time. When asked about his love story, Mr Kwok deliberately maintained his masculinity and said in a monotone, “Our first encounter was actually an argument.” Partly with the help of his students who bought flowers for Ms Cheung on his behalf, the couple started dating in 1985, one year after they met, and got married in 1991.
Kwok’s family has two sons who are both outstanding athletes. Yet, Mr Kwok said he did not particularly train them to be elite athletes. “I simply helped them find a good school, which values moral education and supports extra-curricular activities. All I did was to provide an atmosphere for them to grow and strive for excellence.”
Words of Advice
When asked about words of advice to share with his fellow RHS teachers, Mr Kwok said “Each student is unique. Teachers should not take pride in their works by treating students as their products. Instead, teachers should respect the uniqueness of each individual student and provide the right environment for them to explore and excel.”
Over the years, Mr Kwok places a strong emphasis on building character in students, helping young minds to dream big and letting the students lead. He would go extra miles to discover their buried potential and to make dull class come alive. There is a saying that “The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” Without doubt, Mr Kwok is the latter one.
Written by Juliana Wong