‘Welcome back to the First Day of School!’ by DGE Ms Ho Peng

It’s the first day of school today but I’m in Shanghai instead of being in school to greet my new class.
Feels kind of odd but I’m going to treasure these 2.5 years of unpaid leave – I’ll get to travel at “non-peak” periods, instead of being restricted to the March/June/September/December school holidays. 😛
Anyway, though I’m away from service, I still check my ICON account to clear my mails or to be a little connected with the ongoing “Education News” – I do not wish to be so disconnected from service that I struggle too much with returning (the return would not be easy but I just do not wish to struggle too much.).

Here’s what I found in my inbox today, that I decided to blog to remind myself of what it means to be a teacher…

From the Desk of Director-General of Education

Dear Fellow Educator

Welcome to a new school year! I hope you have had a refreshing break and are ready to go again for 2014. As a fraternity, we have done well in 2013, having brought yet another cohort of students through a fruitful education journey over the year. Many of you, I know, have gone well beyond what is expected to ensure that your young charges are well taken care of.

As we begin the new year, let us continue to put our students at the heart of what we do every day. Beyond building a strong academic foundation for our students, we need too to focus on developing them as confident individuals with a heart for others and for Singapore.

As the world changes, we need to ensure that we educate our students to be able to face up to new challenges both in their personal lives and in the workplace later on. Academic rigour will get them part of the way; it is essential to develop in them a resilience and courage that can last them a lifetime as they meet challenges we can’t even anticipate today. This is why we have given a sharper focus to the 21st century competencies in the redesign of our curriculum over the last few years, to help students gain a surer footing in the world even as they leave our schools. In this regard, you have a critical role to play in preparing our children for the 21st century world and Singapore. At the heart of education is bringing up the moral being and the responsible citizen.

We will need to work with parents to reinforce these same values. Do connect with them to share not just their child’s progress or administrative matters, but the memorable moments that their child has personally encountered in school. Strong partnership with parents will help us effectively deliver a student-centric, values-based education to every child.

We can never fulfil our mission alone. Work with your colleagues and supervisors; support your colleagues who come to you for ideas or guidance, and seek advice and support whenever needed. Above all, look out and care for one another.

I believe the commitment to your calling is what makes a positive difference in your students’ lives. Even as you continue to work hard for your students, take time to re-charge from time to time, that we continue to pace and run our race well.

I wish you a happy and fulfilling year ahead as you lead, care and inspire.

Yours truly in education
Ho Peng (Ms)
Director-General of Education

I miss being in school – the teaching, the students, the parents, the colleagues.
However, I don’t miss the endless meetings (though they’re part of the “development process”)! 😛
Anyway, even as I miss being in school, I shall treasure this time that I’m away, make it fruitful and take a good break from school – to properly recharge, gain life experiences and to think about ‘life’. 😉

I shall end this post with a poem which my HOD EL/Lit shared with me in the first half of last year, after my leave was approved but before I left, to encourage me to have a fruitful time travelling on “the road not taken”…

“TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
‘The Road Not Taken’, by Robert Frost

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