CAREER RELATED QUESTIONS
How/Why did you decide to become a teacher? What motivated/inspired you?
When I was a student, I found it immensely satisfying to be able to make difficult concepts easy to understand for my peers and younger relatives who were struggling with Mathematics. I was inspired to be a teacher by my aunt who was a Mathematics teacher and a role model to me. While I continue to enjoy challenging my students to deepen their knowledge in Mathematics, what has kept me going as an educator for more than 30 years is the knowledge that I can play a role in enabling my students to believe in themselves, develop their learning capacity, and make a difference in the lives of others. There is always a special bond that exists between teachers and students which I treasure and to this day, I still keep in touch with many of my former students.
What schools have you taught at, and what subjects did you teach?
– St Andrew’s Junior College (Mathematics and Further Mathematics)
– Anglo-Chinese Junior College (Further Mathematics and Special Papers)
When were you the principal at Crescent Girls and later on at SAJC?
I was the Principal of Crescent Girls’ School (CGS) from 1999 to 2007, and St Andrew’s Junior College (SAJC) from 2008 to 2015.
What were some of your memorable milestones in both schools as a principal?
As the Principal of CGS, I initiated the 1-to-1 mobile computing in 2004 where every student had access to learning anytime, anywhere in school. This led to the recognition of CGS as a Future School in 2007. With its innovative and effective teaching and learning practices, CGS was conferred by Microsoft as a Mentor School to mentor aspiring Future Schools around the world. It was a moment of great rejoicing for the CGS Family when this announcement was made by Mr Bill Gates in 2007.
St Andrew’s School, of which SAJC is a part of, has 153 years of history. With a rich heritage of abiding love and sacrificial giving, the spirit of St Andrew’s is to share our blessings and serve the community. As such, my colleagues and I in SAJC designed a 21st century curriculum that equips students from primary one to junior college two with critical thinking skills, grounded in good character and a strong disposition to service. This flagship programme unites all the Anglican schools in Singapore to raise generations of young people to stand up and be counted in service to their communities and world. It was a privilege for me to witness SAJC take the lead in this mission and establish itself as a Centre for Student Leadership.
What was it like being an advisor for Microsoft’s education initiative?
I felt honoured to be invited as an advisor to Microsoft’s International Advisory Council. I was the only school principal in the Council and I gained first-hand knowledge of the purpose and potential of technology in teaching and learning. My master’s degree in educational research and nine years of research experience in MOE brought evidenced-based rigour to the Council’s discussions. I was also very pleased to serve as an advisor to an international research project on innovative teaching and learning conducted in eight countries with Stanford Research Institute International, USA.
Did the experience affect your outlook as a principal in terms of steering our schools?
My experience with Microsoft enabled me to gain useful insight into the workforce that my students will eventually join. Many of these people are always thinking many steps ahead of their time and are constantly pushing for the next wave of innovation in their fields. In the face of rapid technological advancement in the present age, I believe that our schools can provide our students with ‘roots’ to anchor their lives with values and moral purpose, and empower them to develop strong ‘wings’ to fly high and achieve their dreams and potential. I lean heavily towards a future orientation in schooling where we educate our students to lead Singapore forward by acquiring the disposition, knowledge and skills for the Future Economy. Apart from being the catalyst of innovation wherever they are in, our students must learn how to care for the people in their communities, and develop a sense of purpose in their lives and a strong character to enjoy their journey.
What is your vision for NUSH?
NUS High has a very inspiring school vision that has been in existence for at least a decade. It is perhaps time for our entire school community and stakeholders to review, affirm or redefine its relevance for the next decade. Personally, I believe that NUS High has the capability to be a thought leader in promoting Math and Science education in Singapore and beyond by continually pushing the frontier of STEM development and harnessing technology in new forays such as data science, nuclear technology, artificial intelligence, augmented reality and so on. I also hope that our students will be happy individuals who appreciate and enjoy life fully, and are always willing to go beyond themselves in contributing towards the greater good of society and humanity with their talents and gifts.
What do you do in your free time?
I enjoy reading and reflecting. Being new to NUS High and recognising its unique staff and student profile, I spend time researching cutting-edge mathematics and science education and the development of the traits and skills. We have a lot of potential and we can certainly challenge ourselves to move beyond our present success and reach greater heights in our next lap.
Tell us about your family.
My husband is a Principal and both of us have been in the education service for more than 30 years. We have two sons aged 22 and 28. My elder son is a lawyer and works in an investment company. He is also pursuing a master’s degree in music at the Manhattan School of Music in USA this month. My younger son has just completed his second year in Economics at the Cambridge University in UK. As a family, we enjoy travelling and having conversations over meals together.
What is your favourite book or movie and why?
I feel that leadership comes with tremendous responsibility and hence, I spend a lot of time learning from and reflecting upon the wisdom of other leaders who have made a great impact on their countries or organisations so that I can give my best to each school that I have the privilege to serve. I usually read leadership books and once I’m drawn to a particular writer, I try to read all his works. I’ve read books by Lee Kuan Yew, Malcolm Gladwell, Barrack Obama, Rudolph W. Giuliani, Nelson Mandela, etc. For entertainment, I love to watch classic movies such as The Sound of Music, My Fair Lady, Gone with the Wind, Fiddler on the Roof, and Disney animated movies.
What is your proudest accomplishment thus far?
In every school that I have been a part of, I am proud to share the process of developing the distinctiveness of its culture and community. More than that, I count myself very blessed to meet many gracious and loyal students, staff, parents, board members and stakeholders who support my endeavours and make my experience in each school fulfilling. Many of them have also become my good friends. My proudest accomplishment would therefore be to see my colleagues and students growing in confidence and capacity, and sacrificially taking on the mantle of leadership in their place of influence. In our quest for excellence, people matter in all that we do.