She follows her dream to help others like her with hearing loss
Ms Charlene Diana Batchelor, 40, quit her job as a community outreach executive to follow her dream of becoming a special needs teacher so she could help others like her who have hearing loss.
For about a year, she woke up at 4am daily to finish her assignments and get her three children ready for school before racing to attend classes at the National Institute of Education (NIE) in Jurong - more than an hour away by public transport from her home in the north-western part of Singapore.
This week, she was among 834 trainee teachers who graduated from NIE on Tuesday (July 12) and Wednesday.
Ms Batchelor, who was diagnosed with hearing loss at birth, has two sons, aged 17 and 12, and an eight-year-old daughter.
She has been teaching at Lighthouse School since April 2019 and will continue to teach there after graduating from NIE. Lighthouse caters to students with visual impairment and hearing loss.
In an address on Tuesday, Education Minister Chan Chun Sing offered the newly qualified teachers some tips on how they can last in the profession.
It is key, he said, for teachers to remember their purpose and continue to broaden their perspective, refine their practice and reassess their priorities.
Mr Chan said: "So today, you have committed yourself to a noble profession. I wish you all the very best.
"We promise to give you all the support that you need in order for you to discharge your duties to shape and mould the next generation for our country."
While many of the teachers were fresh university graduates, some, like Ms Batchelor, have made a mid-career switch to teaching.
Among the graduates who won academic awards was Mr Joseph Lim Soon Keong, 28, who was given the NIE Gold Medal - awarded to trainee teachers with the best performance in the Postgraduate Diploma in Education course.
Mr Lim, who was the valedictorian of his cohort, also bagged the Justice Choor Singh Book Prize and Wong Hee Hua Memorial Prize - which is given to those teaching music.
Apart from teaching, he is also a saxophonist with the Singapore Wind Symphony, and attends practices on Thursday nights every week.
Mr Lim said: "Becoming a teacher in general music doesn't just mean creating potential musicians.
"Music lessons are also about creating music lovers, people who will grow to become patrons of the arts to support the ecosystem."
Mr Lim's teaching practice during his course lasted about 10 weeks at Naval Base Primary School, and he will return to the school as a full-fledged music teacher, he said.