A timeless purpose, her lasting legacy

A timeless purpose her lasting legacy
Winnie with a student

“Train up a child in the way he should go;
even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
~ Proverbs 22:6

Over two decades ago, Winnie Tan’s mentors shared this Bible verse with her when she first embarked on her journey as a teaching assistant at Charis Student Care Centre, now known as MWS Christalite Student Care Centre. Little did she know that this verse would become the beacon for her 23-year journey. Having just graduated from secondary school then, Winnie chose not to further her studies but work as a student care teacher as she felt that her young age would give her an advantage in connecting with children.

The years flew by quickly, filled with both joy and challenges. Winnie recalls the early days when the Centre transitioned from paper to digital, a struggle for her as the youngest teacher with limited technology skills.

“I scrimped and saved and eventually bought a laptop to self-learn so that I could improve the workflow at the Centre.”

This attitude of excellence continues to drive her every day.

New challenges and renewing mercies

As the world evolved, so did the challenges of being a teacher. Easy access to the internet and social media posed new obstacles.

“Sometimes the students will say things like, ‘I know already! I see before on TikTok’ or call me old-fashioned. So, I spend time to catch up and learn what is trending in order to connect with my students and be able to introduce new things in my lessons.”

Winnie’s role as a student care teacher goes beyond academics; it involves caring for children from disadvantaged backgrounds during their after-school hours. One particular encounter with a student in her earlier years left a lasting impression on her. Despite having limited resources as a young adult then, Winnie went out of her way to make Hari Raya memorable for him by bringing him out (with permission) to buy a brand new set of clothes and a toy. He was elated and thoroughly enjoyed himself. Although Winnie is not sure if the boy remembers her today, to her, loving a child is not about being remembered.

Raising the next generation

“My mentor used to tell us that a child may not remember everything you teach him. He may not even remember you. But if you teach him to remove his shoes before he enters the house when he is young, that is what he will do even when he is old. The values and habits we model for them stay with them, and I want to do that for the next generation to the best of my abilities, while I still can,” says Winnie.

Now happily married and a mother of two, Winnie has seen the students from her initial years become parents themselves. MWS recognises and appreciates dedicated teachers like Winnie, who serve the Lord by nurturing the next generation with godly values and habits.

Beyond investing in young lives at the Student Care Centre, MWS also works with youths who are at risk, families who are experiencing various forms of distress, as well as seniors who are battling chronic illness and isolation. In all of these, MWS’ journey with our beneficiaries recognises that our work here on earth is not the perfect solution—Christ is. Translated into our work, it means prioritising people’s welfare over our own goals for them and empowering them to be in the driver’s seat of their own journey. Whether it is a couple working to mend their marriage or a senior going through physiotherapy after a stroke, we counsel and support our clients at their own pace and terms. The call to serve those in need is a timeless call and MWS is committed to empower all to have life to the full, entrusting the process to God.

This Teacher’s Day, we celebrate and honour all teachers who have given their lives to guiding the next generation as they shape their own future. Winnie’s commitment to imparting wisdom and love to her students serves as an inspiration for us all, reminding us that the impact of a teacher’s influence can last a lifetime.

Winnie (third from left) and current teachers
Winnie (third from left) and current teachers

By the Methodist Welfare Services (MWS) Communications Team. / Photos courtesy of MWS