4 academics recognised for excellence in early childhood, particular wants schooling, Parenting & Training Information & Prime Tales

SINGAPORE – Ms. Sulochanah Kanapathy’s student was four years old but couldn’t say a word.

But Ms. Sulochanah, 47, was determined to help and taught the child with special needs to speak his first words.

The teacher at Ramakrishna Mission Sarada Kindergarten went a step further by making home visits, providing the child with additional teaching materials, and training their parents to better manage their learning.

That incident from seven years ago prompted her to take a course in special education to better understand children facing such challenges.

On Wednesday (November 24th) she received the Leading Foundation Teacher Award in the Early Childhood Educator category at the National Institute of Education (NIE) at Nanyang Technological University.

In addition to Ms. Sulochanah, Ms. A. Neshanthini Neelamohan, 33, of Sparkletots Preschool @ Braddell Heights Block 246 received the Leading Foundation Award in the same category.

Ms. Wong Jia Min, 34, of Fei Yue Community Service and Ms. Lee E-Lyn, 47, of Methodist Girls’ School (Primary) received the Leading Foundation Award in the Special Education category.

Launched in 2013, the Leading Foundation Teacher Award recognizes early childhood excellence, special educational needs, and allied educators who have made meaningful contributions to the well-being and teaching of their students. It is administered by NIE and the Community Foundation of Singapore.

The four were selected through assessments and interviews by a jury composed of members from the NIE, the Department of Education and the National Institute for Early Childhood Development.

This year there were a total of 57 nominations.

Among the winners was Ms. Neshanthini, who firmly believes that her teaching will appeal to all types of learners.

There is always something for your students, be it visual, acoustic or tactile. For example, she often uses food essences to stimulate her students’ senses as part of mind play, she said.

As for Ms. Wong Jia Min, she believes that parental support is key to a child’s development.

For example, Ms. Wong brought in a professional sign language interpreter to help a student with behavioral problems communicate more effectively with her deaf parents.

Many home visits later, Ms. Wong and a social worker noticed a marked positive change in the student’s behavior.

Ms. Lee, on the other hand, uses humor in her teaching to allow her students to express themselves and feel relaxed in a safe environment.

For example, she records the children’s voices and plays the recordings during oral practice. She focuses heavily on celebrating and promoting small achievements.

“I’m not only her teacher, I’m her cheerleader,” she said.

The awards are sponsored by The Leading Foundation, which was co-founded by Mr. Lim Siong Guan, professor at Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy and former Singapore Public Service Director, with Ms. Joanne H. Lim, founder of a communications consultancy.

Ex-GIC President Lim Siong Guan speaks at the eighth Leading Foundation Teacher Award on November 24, 2021. ST-PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Ms. Jennifer Lim, wife of Prof. Lim and guest of honor, presented the awards to the winners, who each received $ 2,500 and a certificate in cash.

List of winners

Category Educator

Ms. A. Neshanthini Neelamohan, 33, PCF Sparkletots Preschool @ Braddell Heights Blk 246

Ms. Sulochanah Kanapathy, 47, Ramakrishna Mission Sarada Kindergarten

Category special educators

Ms. Lee E-Lyn, 47, Girls Methodist School (Elementary)

Ms. Wong Jia Min, 34, Fei Yue Community Services


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