Friday, January 6, 2012

Old school, new role

[Photo: BACK TO SCHOOL - Mrs Tan Wai Lan (far left) has been appointed principal of CHIJ St Nicholas Girls’ School, where her youngest daughter MinTing (left) is studying.]

THE first day of school on Tuesday will be a homecoming of sorts for Mrs Tan Wai Lan, 44.

The newly appointed principal of CHIJ StNicholas Girls' School is a former student there.

Mrs Tan was among the 52 principals appointed at the Ministry of Education (MOE) Appointment and Appreciation Ceremony on Dec 30.

As she took the helm only on Dec 15, she has yet to meet the estimated 3,000 students who make up the primary and secondary levels of the school.

Incidentally, one of these students is her youngest daughter, Tan Min Ting, 15, who will be in Secondary 4 when school reopens.

Said Mrs Tan: "She knows I'll be professional about it.

"There are other teachers who have kids in the school, and we all know that we're not to treat them differently from other students.

"If they stray, then they need to be guided back. Failing to do so would be a disservice to them."

She added that it was good she received news of her posting only in October, three months after Min Ting was elected by the students to be president of the student council.

Mrs Tan, who has two other daughters aged 16 and 18, said: "There would be no speculation of her getting that position just because she is my daughter."

Mrs Tan attended St Nicholas from 1980 to 1983. She was in the school's second batch of Special Assistance Plan (SAP) students.

SAP schools are known for producing students who are effectively bilingual.

During her time in St Nicholas, Mrs Tan was a school prefect and leader of the school band.

Although, as a student, Mrs Tan had worked closely with the teachers, she never dreamed that she would one day become the principal of her school.

She said she was too much in awe of her principal back then.

"We had a visionary principal, Mrs Hwang-Lee Poh See, who led the school for 29years," said Mrs Tan, who was previously principal at Anderson Secondary.

"She was such a dynamic leader that I never dared imagine that I would be comparable toher."

Her best memories of the school when it was located at Victoria Street was of the time she spent at "the gallery", a long sheltered corridor with tiered benches on both sides.

Fond memories

She practised marching there with the school band on rainy days and it was also a place where students would hang out.

Said Mrs Tan: "I've gone to see the current school premises in Ang Mo Kio, which is now undergoing upgrading, and there is a place where we may create something like that.

"But beyond the physical premises, what I remember and treasure is the camaraderie between students and the warmth from the teachers, the human connection."

Mrs Tan said that as she didn't request to be posted to St Nicholas, it was a pleasant surprise when she was notified.

"I was definitely excited when I found out. I feel honoured and privileged... I hope to be a role model for the students," she said.

"As an old girl who has gone through life and had a career, I want to connect with them so they can be inspired to be the best that they can be."

Min Ting thinks her mother will be a great role model.

She said: "I am very excited and also very proud of her. It's a great achievement."

This article was first published in The New Paper.

Teh Jen Lee | The New Paper | Mon Jan 2 2012

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