Five Catholic Schools have a change of school leadership this year. The new principals share their aspirations with Catholic News.

First time leading a Catholic school

Mrs Chin Lai Yoke, St Anthony's Canossian Primary School

Mrs Chin Lai Yoke says she is excited and grateful for the opportunity to head St Anthony’s Canossian Primary. A fresh face to the Catholic fraternity of schools, the parishioner of the Church of the Holy Family comes with 29 years of experience as an educator.

Mrs Chin, who has previously headed a government secondary school as well as a government primary school, shared: “It is my first in leading a Catholic school and I hope to be able to lead the school well with God’s grace. I would like to continue to focus on achieving the school mission of empowering Canossians to be persons of integrity, committed to serving God and others.

“The Canossian attributes of Commitment, Compassion and Cheerfulness resonate very well with me.”

The mother of three grown-up children, two of whom were Josephians, previously had a short leadership stint in a Catholic school. As part of the Education Ministry’s Leaders in Education Programme to prepare for school leadership more than 10 years ago, she spent 10 weeks attached to a Catholic school.

Mrs Chin says she firmly believes that God has His reasons for leading her to St Anthony’s Canossian Primary at this point in her career. With His blessings and guidance, she will do her best to lead the school well.

She adds that she strongly believes that all children can learn and grow up well with proper care and guidance from their parents, teachers and the community.

Back serving in Lasallian institution

Mr Eric Lee, St Patrick's School

Mr Eric Lee, who has been appointed to head St Patrick’s School, says he is proud to be back to serve in a Lasallian institution after being schooled in such institutions for 10 years.

Prior to this leadership posting, Mr Lee, 41, was vice-principal of Catholic Junior College (2012-2016) and vice-principal of Bedok Green Secondary (2017).

A parishioner of the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, he says he feels humbled and honoured to be appointed to head St Patrick’s which he views as a school with a rich culture, heritage and strong support from the community.

He adds that he looks forward to utilising the gifts he has been blessed with to grow together with the school.

He sees this leadership journey as a faith development opportunity and looks forward to drawing strength and wisdom from the Lord as he remains dutiful in his stewardship of the school.

When asked about his vision for St Patrick’s, Mr Lee said, “The vision of St Patrick’s School is to nurture Patricians to be worthy of God and man. The vision resonates with me because I believe the gift of education is a journey to be empowered to lead and serve.

“Indeed, I look forward to working with the staff and students [both past and present] to continue the good work of my predecessors in nurturing Patricians.”

He added, “Today, we have many Patricians who are exemplary in their service to the community, and it is important for Patricians [staff and students] to be reflective and responsible persons who serve the community by making good use of the gifts and graces that God has blessed them with.”

Forming the hearts of students

Mrs Eugenie Tan, Canossa Convent Primary School

Mrs Eugenie Tan, from the Church of the Holy Family, is the new principal for Canossa Convent Primary. No stranger to the Catholic schools fraternity, she has just completed her first appointment as principal in St Anthony’s Canossian Primary.

Prior to this, she served as vice-principal of CHIJ Primary School (Toa Payoh).

“Since Pri 1 through to college and as an educator, I have only been in Catholic mission schools!” she says.

Mrs Tan has 25 years of experience as an educator in Catholic mission schools and says she firmly believes in the words of St Magdalene of Canossa, founder of the Canossian schools: “The benefit of education is in the formation of the heart.”

Mrs Tan says she hopes to “continue building on the good work put in place by my predecessor, Grace Tan, in the formation of the heart of the girls”.

She adds that she finds joy in her work as a Canossian educator and her involvement as part of the Canossian community overseeing an “eduplex” comprising three mainstream schools, a special education school and a children’s home.

Shaping young lives

Ms Grace Tan, CHIJ Our Lady of Good Counsel

With the retirement of veteran principal Madam Catherine Woon of CHIJ Our Lady of Good Counsel (OLGC), the Infant Jesus (IJ) community welcomes Ms Grace Tan to lead the school.

“Being a former IJ student makes this opportunity to serve as principal of CHIJ OLGC really special as I am able to give back to the IJ community,” says Ms Tan, an educator with 23 years of service.

“It is an honour and a privilege to be able to shape many young lives; it is even more so in a Catholic school as there is a greater sense of stewardship of the flock in the spiritual dimension.”

Having served her first stint as principal in Canossa Convent Primary School, Ms Tan says she is grateful for another tour of duty in another Catholic mission school. She recognises that CHIJ OLGC has for the past 50 years contributed to the growth and development of young ladies who are, in many ways, successful in their own right.

As she looks towards the journey ahead with CHIJ OLGC, she says she plans to build on the good work of her predecessors to lead the school through its next lap. The completion of upgrading works under MOE’s PERI (Primary Education Review and Implementation) also looks set to help the school develop its girls to be ladies of grace and character, and leaders of the future.

‘An even higher calling’

Mr Benjamin Kwok, Assumption English School

Mr Benjamin Kwok returns to serve in the Catholic educational fraternity after 17 years. On completion of his teacher training, the former student of Catholic High School returned to his alma mater as teacher and head of department for 11 years.

The next decade saw him appointed as head of department and then as vice-principal at Bendemeer Secondary School and Guangyang Secondary School.

He became principal of Guangyang Secondary in 2013.

Mr Kwok, a parishioner of the Church of Christ the King, says he considers his appointment as principal of Assumption English School (AES) a privilege and an honour.

“I’m also grateful that my calling as an educator can now be closely intertwined with God’s work. It’s an even higher calling,” he added.

Mr Kwok says he hopes to continue the good work done by his predecessors and to deepen the Monfortian education ideals and beliefs in preparing AES students for the future.

COMMENCEMENT OF SCHOOL YEAR MASS: The Archdiocese Commission of Catholic Schools (ACCS) in collaboration with the Council of Catholic Schools’ Principals (CCSP) will hold the annual Commencement of School Year Mass at the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd on Jan 20 at 2 pm. Archbishop William Goh will commission the five newly appointed school principals as well as newly appointed principals of Catholic preschools.

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