Community Chest supported 97 programmes for children with special needs and youth-at-risk in FY19, including special education schools that care for children and youth with disabilities, developmental conditions or different learning needs.
As we celebrate Teachers’ Day this year, we would like to show our appreciation to all of our Special Education School educators, who have supported children with special needs to overcome their challenges and enabled them to fulfil their potential.
Our teachers are all superheroes in one way or another and here are some of the stories they have to share!
Ms Pavitra Gopal,
Senior Early Interventionist
Rainbow Centre Early Intervention Services (Yishun Park)
“Dear students, thank you for choosing me to be your teacher and giving me the privilege to be part of your learning journey. I hope that you have learnt from me, as much as I have learnt from you. Each one of you holds a special place in my heart and I look forward to see you growing into the best version of yourself!”
When I became an Early Intervention Teacher, I quickly learnt that teaching wasn’t as simple as it seemed. As Early Intervention Teachers, we have to develop in-depth understanding of child development. We also undergo rigorous formal and informal training to be able to accurately assess our students, identify their developmental gaps and provide targeted intervention.
Every child that I work with is unique and a child’s medical diagnosis in no way limits the child’s potential and capability to learn. One of the most memorable events in my journey was when one of my students with selective mutism, delivered the Valedictorian speech that he wrote himself, on EIP Graduation Day in front of a large crowd in the school auditorium. My co-teacher and I had tears streaming down our faces, and I felt like a proud parent at that moment. It always reminds me that with patience, the right intervention, a safe learning environment, lots of love and encouragement, anything is possible!
I’d like to share a quote that I often use as a point of reflection to guide my practice: "If the child is not learning the way you are teaching, then you must teach in the way the child learns" - Rita Dunn
Ms Murugananthi d/o Muthiah,
“What keeps me going is to always see the ability of students, not their disability; to celebrate all successes, and to look out for opportunities to open up the world to them in a safe and non-threatening manner.”
Teaching children with autism can be very challenging, yet I enjoy every bit of the challenge. I get to learn new things every day. Every child has his / her own unique learning style, and it keeps me thinking of ways to make learning more meaningful and engaging.
I prepare my lessons catering to each of my student’s learning needs. I plan for individual teaching, paired or small group teaching incorporating their strengths and interests.
I have accumulated countless beautiful memories through the years. One of the more memorable experiences would be that of my EIPIC student – JW, whom I last taught 14 years ago. He is now a 18 year old boy studying at Pathlight School. Recently, he decided to go back to the EIPIC centre together with his parents to look for me, as he wanted to say “Hello” to Teacher Ann.
My students will never walk alone. As teachers, we always journey hand in hand with their parents both in school and at home. We will go to any extent within our means to make life more meaningful and bring out their best potential.
Ms Jeanette Ng
“To my beloved students, you are the little stars that brighten the darkest of days. Autism or not, you are beautiful inside out, so be yourself and shine in your own ways!”
Once, a student wrote a note to me which read “Teacher Jeanette, thank you for not giving up on me.” That moment was made more significant when I found out that the message was scripted by the student’s parent and handwritten by him. How many times must they have felt lost, forgotten, and alone? The sentiments of both parent and child were conveyed strongly in this simple sentence, and it dawned on me how much my day-to-day interactions meant to both my students as well as their families.
Through the many experiences and interactions with families, I am reminded that as an educator, the collected efforts we make as a society enable caregivers to feel supported, and for persons with special needs to feel recognised and empowered.
Besides renewing and deepening our understanding of individuals with autism, our days are peppered with numerous little successes worth celebrating. It will be through the eyes of our students and their families that we truly see the challenges faced by persons with special needs, and eventually, the triumphs that follow when we walk this journey together.
Ms Loraine Leong
“I believe that every child deserves an opportunity to have access to education. A special encounter with a child with special needs while I was volunteering prompted me to take a leap of faith and make a career switch to serve in special education.”
In my 8 years with Eden School, I have gained greater competency through various trainings and courses. I also had the opportunity to work with a wide spectrum of students with moderate to severe autism needs.
Currently, I have a student with self-injurious behaviour and her family struggles to bring her to school daily. Together with the school’s social worker and autism therapist, we have to understand the family’s needs and implement strategies to support the student both in school and at home.
As a member of the school’s Maths Team, I am also glad to share at various platforms such as the school’s parent learning nights.
I believe strongly that anyone with the heart and desire to make a difference in the lives of people with special needs will succeed with the right training and support.