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‘God uses me when I remain obedient’

‘God uses me when I remain obedient’

I MUST SAY that I stumbled upon teaching as a career. It was totally unplanned. As the years unfolded though, I realised that while it may not have been a part of my plans, God certainly had it in His plans for me.

Upon completing my A-levels, I took on a relief teaching assignment at my mother’s nudging. It was to be a “time-filler”. Little did I know then that that brief experience on the “other side of the classroom” would get me addicted to school for life! My teaching career began at Bukit Ho Swee Secondary School in the late 1970s. English Language was a challenge for the pupils and it was a norm for pupils to just call out in dialects in class. My lack of exposure to Chinese dialects meant that the random remarks about the new teacher that made the class burst out laughing were always lost on me.

At times I was at a real loss – I wondered whether teaching was for me after all. Adapting to the demands of attending lectures in the morning at the then Institute of Education in Paterson Road before reporting to school and teaching through till 6.30 pm was exhausting. Managing a group of teenagers, many of whom did not view education, let alone the learning of the English Language, as a priority in their lives then, made each day even more challenging.

Despite the challenges, however, I was finding each day pretty fulfilling. I wanted this to work. I knew I could make a difference in the lives of these young ones.

I was fortunate during those years to have had good Christian friends with whom I could share my challenges and hopes. Based on the counsel of good friends and mentors, I began to call my pupils (mostly the boys) aside one at a time – the loudest ones fi rst, to understand why they behaved in the way they did in my class. It took some time but I eventually got their attention and cooperation. It was an important breakthrough and a precious lesson learnt.

My first students taught me that unless I understood the child and his needs and concerns, I would never be a teacher to him. The Lord taught me that I really was nothing and had nothing to offer – but if I were to yield myself completely, in obedience to His will, He would certainly be able to use me. I yielded myself – an instrument in His hands.

As a school leader today, those first lessons continue to be relevant. I yield myself daily to God’s guidance and see in each child, God’s precious creation yearning to realise his or her potential. In my last 30 years in school (i.e. “on the other side of the classroom”), I have learnt that though I am nothing, God is able to use me if I remain obedient to His will.

Elsie Jeremiah is a member of the Methodist Church of the Incarnation.

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SCHOOLS

M & M with D & D …

Of fathers bonding with daughters in PLMGS (Primary)

M & M OR “MUNCH & MOVIE WITH DAD” on April 24, 2010 was an inaugural event organised by Fathers@ PLMGS (P) in Paya Lebar Methodist Girls’ School (Primary). A total of 147 fathers, 185 daughters and 30 volunteers spent a memorable morning in the school with a set of programmes specially organised for a time of bonding between Dads and Daughters.

The activities included a tour of the school with the pupils who shared with their fathers about their school life, a networking session among the fathers, card-making for fathers, a light buffet and movie-watching “Akeelah and the Bee”. Fathers and daughters went home with many moments to remember and treasure.

The immense success of M & M was the result of a very strong collaborative tripartite effort between the school, Parent Support Team (PST) and the fathers’ group. Fathers@PLMGS is a newly set-up group under the school’s PST. The idea came from a school-wide survey conducted in January during the Introductory briefing sessions for parents of all the levels about Dads for Life and Fathers@Schools. Thee fathers themselves organised the event, with an understanding of what fellow fathers would be willing to participate in as well as what activities their daughters wished to engage their fathers with.

Fathers@PLMGS(P) was an initiative of a father in the PST. He was so inspired after hearing about the Dads for Life, a national fathers’ movement supported by the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS),that he decided to approach the school to start the new committee.

Thee Fathers’ group was formed in three months and was registered with the MCYS in April. Its mission is to encourage and help fathers to be strong and good influencers to positively impact their daughters’ lives … for life. It endeavours to galvanise fathers for this purpose through events, education and equipping.

The Fathers’ group will continue to engage the fathers, collaborate with them, draw them in to contribute and organise activities based on the needs of their daughters. The school believes that with passion and commitment from the Fathers’ group, it will be able to mobilise fathers to be active role models who will make a positive impact on its pupils.

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