Top teachers honoured
Eight educators given President's Award for Teachers
As a 10-year-old child, Ms Angeline Chan saw a schoolmate having difficulties interacting with others.
He was a special-needs child and his classmates often excluded him during recess and during group work. Ms Chan became his only friend.
She said: "I could see how happy he was to have someone to talk to him and be his friend."
The boy left the school shortly after.
Fast forward to more than 20 years later, Ms Chan now runs a programme for special-needs children in Anglo-Chinese Primary School.
Said the 37-year-old educator: "I don't want more children to go through what my friend did in school. These kids also require interaction and can build friendships with other people. They should not be defined by their needs."
Ms Chan, who teaches English and Mathematics, joined ACS (Primary) in 2008 and has been running the programme since 2012.
Ms Chan recalled that one of her special-needs pupils was isolated and quiet and had problems communicating.
So she started to do "active modelling", acting out the appropriate way to interact with others. Gradually, he began to open up to his friends.
"Now, he initiates play on his own and is starting to form friendships," she said.
Ms Chan also firmly believes in letting other children learn from special-needs children.
Earlier this year, the boy, who has a talent for art, created a thank-you card for migrant workers for Labour Day.
Many of his classmates appreciated his drawing. Ms Chan said: "It inspired other children to put in their best in their work as well."
Ms Chan was one of the 15 finalists for the President's Award for Teachers, held at the Istana yesterday.
Eight teachers eventually won the award, which President Halimah Yacob gave out.
The award recognises teachers who are committed to developing students to their fullest potential, and also adopt innovative approaches in their lessons.
They were chosen from 2,571 educators nominated this year by school leaders, teachers, parents, former and current students.
One of this year's winners, Mr Edzra Iskandar, is a strong advocate of taking education out of the classroom.
Mr Edzra, 48, organises outdoor expeditions such as cycling trips around Singapore for students in Bedok South Secondary, where he has been a teacher for five years.
"Nature is the best teacher because it provides very realistic challenges. Out there, students learn how to improvise and work together to overcome them," said Mr Edzra, who has been teaching for 20 years.
Although he faces challenges in changing mindsets about outdoor education, he is not ready to give up. He said: "Risk is an opportunity to develop the child. Sometimes, a small risk is needed so the child can emerge stronger."
The eight recipients of the President’s Award for Teachers are (clockwise from back row, far left):
- Mr Matthew Ong
St Andrew’s Junior School
- Mr George Teo
- Madam S Nirmala Devi
- Mr Edzra Iskandar
Bedok South Secondary
- Dr Lim Yi-En
National Junior College
- Ms Tan Lay Khee
- Ms Goh Wai Leng
Geylang Methodist School (Primary)
- Ms Ng Sheh Feng
Ahmad Ibrahim Secondary