On 15 Dec last year, I began my third Principal appointment at Changkat Primary. I was first appointed as Principal in Ngee Ann Primary on 15 Dec 2004. After serving 7 years there, I was posted to Pioneer Primary as Principal in Dec 2011. In my first semester here at Changkat, I have felt the warmth and support from all stakeholders, from staff to students to parents to vendors. I appreciate all of you for easing me into a totally brand new environment.
Throughout my education career since I was first appointed as a teacher in 1986, I have not found a student who is not talented. Every student is uniquely gifted. However, a key factor that determines their performance, whether they are performing according to their potential, is the love and support they receive from their parents. All parents love their children. If parents learn to love their children with wisdom, the children would receive the support they need to excel. The greatest needs of the children do not come in the form of tuition or marks. They come in the form of listening, understanding and affirmation. I hope all of us will learn continuously to love our children with wisdom.
I told the students in my first address to them in April that this year, 2018, we begin a time of Cultivation. What is cultivation? It has something to do with growing. Then we ask: What fruits are we growing in Changkat Primary? We are growing Learners with Passion, Citizens of Honour.
Learners with Passion are self-directed in their learning. They enjoy learning and reflect on learning, and learn continuously. They are persistent and strive for accuracy. They question and pose problems, and are creative and imaginative. Thinking about thinking and learning, they respond with wonderment and awe. Professor Stephen Hawking exemplifies a learner with passion. He was a visionary physicist who passed away recently on 14 March 2018 at the age of 76. The British scientist was famed for his work with black holes and relativity, and wrote several popular science books including A Brief History of Time. At the age of 22, Prof Hawking was given only a few years to live after being diagnosed with a rare form of motor neurone disease. He was sustained by his passion in learning and he proved the doctor wrong.
Another fruit we are growing here are Citizens of Honour who love country and community. They are upright in character, value self and others and others before self. They are great leaders and team players who work well with others. A citizen of Honour is like Lieutenant-Colonel Arnaud Beltrame, the French policeman who was shot three times by terrorists after voluntarily taking the place of a hostage during a supermarket siege in south-western France on 23 Mar 18. The President of France honoured him as a hero who gave up his life for others, and died for his country.
Coming back to cultivation, in order for a plant to be fruitful, it must grow deep and grow strong. Cultivation is the set of things we do to make the plant fruitful.
For the roots to grow deep, we have to Plough the Ground. Grounds are like our hearts. For our roots to grow deep, we have to Plough our Hearts – Soften our hearts. We do not let our hearts be hardened. We must soften our hearts with humility and the school values:
•Patriotism our anchor
•Resilience and Discipline in learning
•Integrity the foundation
•Empathy in words and deeds
For the plant to grow strong, we have to Remove the Weeds. Weeds are fast growing and opportunistic plants that compete with the plants we want to grow. In a garden, weeds steal the strength of the good plants we desire and they ruin the garden. What are the things that steal your strength? When you are feeling weak or stressful, what do you do? Remove all kinds of life stealers – addictions, negative thoughts and behaviours and embrace the School Motto: to Learn, to Live, to Serve.
The school motto is best demonstrated by a fellow educator, Mr Wong Zi Heng. At 21, he suffered a spinal cord injury during his university orientation camp and was paralysed from chest down. A year after the accident, he went back to school. At 26, he is now pursuing a postgraduate diploma in education. I like to quote what he said to the media recently.
•“I didn't feel sorry for myself. I didn't ask why this had happened to me or what I had done to deserve this.”
•“I felt it was more useful to focus on what I could still do, instead of what I could not. If I kept focusing on how difficult my life was, I would sink into a downward spiral.”
•“Before the accident, there was a period of my life when I felt very down and I questioned the value of my existence. But now I realise the value of one person's life is not just the value we create for ourselves, but also for those around us. This is also the reason I want to be a teacher - to create value for the lives of my students.”
In summary, let us:
oPlough the Ground – Soften our Hearts with humility and the School Values
oRemove the Weeds – Remove all kinds of life stealers and embrace the School Motto
Let’s all begin a time of cultivation in 2018!
Cheng Huey Teng (Mrs)
22 May 2018