Nurse-turned-ITE lecturer among 8 winners of President's Award for Teachers
Ms Pauline Hu, 50, wanted to become a nurse after the severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) outbreak in 2003 so that she could help others.
In 2004, she joined a two-year accelerated nursing course at Nanyang Polytechnic, but she soon discovered another interest - teaching.
She said: "When I was an advanced beginner nurse, I served as a mentor to junior nursing students during my preceptorship (a mentoring programme to support and train junior nurses).
"It brings me joy to coach younger people to become the best version of themselves, and even my managers noticed it and encouraged me to pursue (teaching as a)career."
Now a nursing lecturer at the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) College East for the past 10 years, Ms Hu wants to help her students contribute to society, especially seniors.
She guides them to develop devices to help patients, such as the Sensistove, a gadget that detects when a gas stove has been left on for too long and alerts caregivers and users.
"We created this in 2019... for the elderly suffering from dementia, who often forget to turn off the stoves," she added.
For her dedication, Ms Hu on Thursday received the President's Award for Teachers, the top honour for educators.
She is one of eight teachers who received awards from President Halimah Yacob at the Istana on Thursday evening. Education Minister Chan Chun Sing also attended the event.
The winners were chosen from 17 finalists who come from primary schools, secondary schools, ITE and polytechnics.
Speaking at the ceremony, Madam Halimah said teachers have a great impact on society and their students' life.
"Our educators do more than teach subjects," she said.
"Beyond the pursuit of excellence in academics, they also focus on the socio-emotional and mental resilience foundations for our students, and help to positively mould their habits, traits and character."
Another award recipient is Mr Nasrun Mizzy, 48, the physical education (PE) head at Teck Whye Primary School.
He said: "The teaching community in Singapore has faced a lot of challenges with Covid-19, and we have overcome them together. I want to dedicate the award to all teachers in Singapore for their efforts."
When the Covid-19 pandemic struck more than two years ago, Mr Mizzy pooled the resources of PE heads of department (HOD) from 20 schools to continue PE lessons when students had to do home-based learning.
He said: "Because of the restrictions during that year, I knew I had to improvise ways for students to do lessons at home, even without equipment.
"For example, I came up with a way to play badminton using paper as a shuttlecock and a book as a racket. The other HODs and I were always discussing creative ways to conduct lessons."
In total, 4,837 educators from 335 schools and post-secondary institutions were nominated this year by school leaders, teachers, parents and students.