10 minutes with our Principal Mrs Lee
A woman who’s been in the education industry for 32 years, it has been a long journey to get to where she is today. 2017 is her 14th year as a principal, and her past 13 years were in SAP schools. Mrs Lee Hui Feng, Principal, answered 14 questions by the newsletter team about her job and how she balances her family life.
“In our profession, we give all our hearts and emotions a lot. We need to nurture and nourish them. Otherwise, we will feel very drained. If we do not have our hearts full and filled with goodness, it will be hard to give goodness.
|Why did you want to work in education?||Being a teacher was my only dream. I have always wanted to be a teacher since young. I was blessed to have teachers who were caring and nurturing. They made a big impact in my life and opened up possibilities me.|
|What was your journey like to get where you are?||I have never thought I would become a principal. Initially, when the school asked me to do something, I just accepted, not thinking about the position. I just wanted to help. Half a year after I started teaching, I became a Sports Secretary. It has given me good exposure on international events for schools like SEA Games where I even had the chance to work with the choreographer for Barcelona Olympics.
Due to the exposure, I had the opportunities to work with many school leaders to learn from and learn with them. I developed the Growth Mindset, and took one step at a time. I was always excited to learn and am thankful to all who have help shaped me.
|You’ve been a school leader for the past 13 years. What does it mean to be a principal in 2017?||Now that I am serving students with a different profile, I believe that my personal belief in education should never change regardless of the school that I serve. It should be the core belief.
In 2017, I am happy for the change as I could have new experiences a school leader and there will always be new learning.
In my 13 years as a principal of SAP schools, the learning will be different in my new portfolio but I do hope my experiences in the past will help me to value-add to and care for the students in Qihua Primary School.
|What has been your proudest achievement at work so far?||I feel proud whenever I see the smiles on the children’s faces. To me, I would prefer many happy faces rather than one big trophy.
Although I have gone through numerous big events, what I value most is not that one big trophy but rather all the happy faces and the many celebrations that we will have along the way.
Instead of focusing on one big event or having just one scholar, I would rather see many faces saying hello to me when they see me, lives whom I had touched along the way. It is the lives that I had made a difference with that is more satisfying.
|What is your philosophy of education?||We are here to educate children, not to receive well-educated children. We can be firm but more importantly, we must love the children. Every child deserves the love and care to do better in life.
Education is not a competition. Every individual has a chance to go through the education system and then make this world a better place.
Education is really, a work of the heart.
|What advice would you give to a new teacher on his or her first year?||Get your hands dirty. Do it and embrace all the challenges as opportunities to learn. Your heart must be in education so all your effort, challenges and struggles will then have a purpose and everything will be worth it. Do not forget to reach out to the students. Children can read and feel our hearts, and they will appreciate what we do. When our hearts are in the right place, half the battle is won.
Also, work with our stakeholders, when the parents know that we are genuine and that we really care for their children, 99% of them will work with us.
|Assuming there is only one job (leave aside being an educator) that you could apply for at this stage of your career, where would you apply and why?||My choice would be the hospitality industry. I will be able to meet people and lift them up through my service. The hospitality industry is still very people-oriented and customers are served with the hearts.|
|What makes you smile?||The children. Seeing them interacting with one another, feeling the excitement and watching the Eureka moments on their faces. And how can I forget the hugs from the students? Everything is about the children. The children are our purpose and the reason why we are here.|
|What keeps you awake at night?||The safety and well-being of the students, the difficulties that the students may be facing. There were situations where I felt helpless, even as a School Leader. We can take care of the students when they are in school but when it crosses the family boundary, I may know that the child is suffering, yet I can’t do anything as my hands are tied.|
|What was the last book you read?||
Five Minds for the Future by Howard Gardner.
I do not just read professional books. I love to read novels too. I think it is important to balance our minds. Literature is very powerful. I think the arts will help to balance our minds and allow our creative minds to wonder and dream too. Our dreams then become more beautiful.
|What’s a food treat for you?||I like Japanese food. Actually, I just love yummy food. I am a foodie. In fact, my whole family are foodies. I am open to anything and everything that is delicious. A food treat would be something that I can enjoy and not worry about putting on too much weight.
Basically, I live to eat. I am a savoury kind of person but I would love to end a meal with something sweet, with less sugar though, but that’s quite tough, right?
|Being a principal is busy. Do you get any time for yourself? What do you do during your free time?||I go on holidays as being on a holiday is the only time I can stay away from my work but with technology and the Internet, it will not be 100% off work. When I’m in Singapore, I will always return to school or work on school-related stuff.
Going on a holiday allows me to recharge myself, mentally and emotionally. Learning is everywhere, especially when one is in another country. I am free to learn, and I like to learn about the different cultures – the collective wisdom of the different groups of people.
And that is how I rest and at the same time enjoy the learning without any boundary or restriction. You will find me travelling whenever I get a chance.
|What would be the dream holiday, and who would you go with?||I would love to go on a roadtrip with my children. I will see the beautiful natural sceneries and we will then stop by for good food. It will be a good bonding time with my family members.|
|And finally, do you have a bucket list?||I want to travel to the many places I have never been to before – Niagara Falls, Alaska, the Rocky Mountains, just to name a few. I would love to travel the small towns in Europe too.
I would also like to attend some good courses to enrich my life. In fact, this September, I am going to attend one in Taiwan and listen to one enlightened speaker on life.
In our profession, we give all our hearts and emotions a lot. We need to nurture and nourish them. Otherwise, we will feel very drained. If we do not have our hearts full and filled with goodness, it will be hard to give goodness.
I would also love to read some good books but I sometimes do not have the time to do so. I guess the length of our bucket list gets longer and longer as life is always full of surprises and as we come across good things. Like in the past, I said I wanted to see Sakura but now, Sakura has come to Singapore! We can have so many things that we want to do but we may have to let go of some of them before we can take on new things.