News

From one generation to the next, in His service – Geylang Methodist Schools’ 100th anniversary

geylang

One generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts.

Psalm 145:4 (NIV)

It is not everyday that a school in Singapore gets to commemorate a centennial anniversary, but this is exactly what the Geylang Methodist Schools (GMS) had the privilege to do this year.

It is even rarer to have generations of educators and students linked across decades in time—teachers working alongside their own teachers in a school, with their own children walking in the footsteps that they had themselves once taken as students—learning, playing and growing up in the same space.

Indeed, it is on the occasion of GMS’ 100th year as a beacon of light in its community that the primary and secondary schools recount the blessings of God’s goodness throughout the generations (Psalm 100:5).

A school family that transcends generations

In Geylang Methodist School (Primary), a familial bond shines through the lives of Ms Theresa Tong, Mrs Chen Yan Xi and Nathaniel Chen. Ms Tong taught Mrs Chen during the latter’s primary school years from 1993 to 1998. Under Ms Tong’s tutelage, Mrs Chen grew in confidence in her talents and abilities and was inspired to become a teacher too. Today she works alongside Ms Tong as a colleague in the lower primary levels. Nathaniel, Mrs Chen’s eldest son, was a student of Ms Tong’s when he was in lower primary. Tobias, Mrs Chen’s younger son, also joined the school last year.

geylang2
Back row (left to right): Ms Theresa Tong and Mrs Chen Yan Xi, teachers at GMS(P); front row (left to right): Tobias Chen and Nathaniel Chen, children of Mrs Chen

This year, Ms Tong celebrates 43 years of service to God in GMS, and to see the children of her own students study at the same school has been gratifying. Just as a generation is raised up for God’s work in a new season, Ms Tong and Mrs Chen are experiencing how their lives in GMS continue to have a ripple effect through time as old students return with a passion to teach and grow others in the same way they had been blessed decades before.

[TOP] Current teachers from GMS(P) (top) and GMS(S) (bottom)_ A generation of teachers work alongside the teachers who had once taught them at the same school
Current teachers from GMS(P): A generation of teachers work alongside the teachers who had once taught them at the same school

Likewise at Geylang Methodist School (Secondary), this tradition of educational legacy is seen through three generations of teachers. Miss Wendy Wong set her mind on coming to GMS although her friends had chosen other schools. It was not because the school was near her home. Rather, Wendy felt an unspoken, divine connection with GMS.

When she first arrived, Wendy was a shy and quiet student. However, it was the kind and caring teachers in the school who managed to coax her out of her shell. One such teacher was Mrs Goh Heng Mei, who instilled in her a passion for learning.

In The Girls’ Brigade, another teacher, Miss Leong Jing Ying, encouraged Wendy to pray and was instrumental in leading her to Christ when she was in Secondary 2. Miss Leong also became Wendy’s Bible study teacher, and at one point asked Wendy and her class to pray for their direction in life. Another teacher, Mdm Hazel Eng, who was her Secondary 4 form teacher and Literature teacher. Wendy recalled that although she was not the best Literature student, she liked the subject because of Madam Eng. This experience made her realise that teachers can make a difference. Through prayer, her personal experiences and her teacher-mentors at GMS, Wendy was inspired to embark on a career as a Mathematics teacher to impact the next generation of students. In fact, one of Wendy’s former students, Ms Yvonee Wong has already returned to the school as a teacher.

[BOTTOM] Current teachers from GMS(P) (top) and GMS(S) (bottom)_ A generation of teachers work alongside the teachers who had once taught them at the same school
Current teachers from GMS(S): A generation of teachers work alongside the teachers who had once taught them at the same school

In fact, these are just some examples of former students returning to serve in GMS, a testament to the profound ties that bind the GM family together. It reflects not only the enduring impact of dedicated teaching but also the strong sense of loyalty and commitment students feel towards their alma mater. As each generation returns to contribute to the school’s legacy, they not only uphold its traditions but also inspire the next cohort of educators, fostering a continuum of excellence and relationship-building.

A birthday gift for GMS’ centennial celebrations

God’s centennial birthday gift to GMS came knocking in the most remarkable way. Only he could orchestrate reconnecting the family ties that bind the legacy of the schools to that of the founders. In August 2023, GMS(P) received a request from an American lady, asking if she could take photos of the school. Her name was Ms Carolyn Averill, and she explained that she was the great-granddaughter of the school’s founder, Rev Floyd Herman Sullivan, who was a District Superintendent of The Methodist Church in Singapore at that time. Ms Averill had found the name of her great-grandfather on the school’s website and wanted to see the school he had founded a century ago.

Ms Anne Averill
Ms Anne Averill, granddaughter of Rev Floyd Sullivan, standing in front of the 100th anniversary mural at GMS(S), which she helped to decorate

On 30 August 2023, she visited both schools and shared that her mother, Ms Anne Averill, Rev Sullivan’s granddaughter, aimed to make a trip to Singapore specially to visit the schools for the centennial celebrations.

In April 2024, a Combined Centennial Service and Dinner was held, and the month ended on a high note with Ms Anne Averill’s visit to both schools. To commemorate her visit, she painted and decorated a square on the 100th anniversary mural located in the secondary school and inscribed her name on it. She also visited the newly-opened heritage galleries in the primary and the secondary schools, aptly christened collectively as The Living Gallery, which provided her with a wealth of information about the schools’ history.

Towards the end of her visit, Ms Anne Averill, herself a former educator and school principal, made an impassioned speech. She said, “This school is embodying everything that my heart has in it, that my grandfather had,” referring to Rev Sullivan’s heart for educating hearts and minds to learn for life.

The school is blessed with a constant stream of alumni who return to serve as teachers, enabling its mission-centred ethos to be passed down from one generation to another. To have personally encountered Rev Sullivan’s descendants is akin to having found long-lost family members. To see the same heartbeat across the generations, near and far, in his service—teaching, growing and moulding the next generation—was humbling and deeply moving.

geylang5
GMS representatives with Ms Anne Averill (centre, in white skirt)

By Geylang Methodist School (Primary) and Geylang Methodist School (Secondary). / Photos courtesy of Geylang Methodist Schools

Menu