New principals commissioned during a special ceremony (from left): Mrs Tan Wai Lan, CHIJ St Nicholas; Mrs Mabel Leong, Assumption English School; Mrs Denise Chelliah, St Francis Xavier Kindergarten; Mr Adolphus Tan, St Patrick’s School; Mrs Daphne Sing, De La Salle School; and Mrs Catherine Chiang, St Gabriel’s Primary School.


Six new principals of Catholic schools were commissioned in a Jan 28 ceremony organised by the Archdiocesan Commission for Catholic Schools (ACCS).

They were Mrs Tan Wai Lan (CHIJ St Nicholas Girls’ School), Mrs Daphne Sing (De La Salle School), Mr Adolphus Tan (St Patrick’s School), Mrs Denise Chelliah (St Francis Xavier Kindergarten), Mrs Mabel Leong (Assumption English School) and Mrs Catherine Chiang (St Gabriel’s Primary School).

The commissioning, held in the Catholic Junior College Chapel, was part of the Principals’ Commissioning and Renewal of Commitment ceremony, which ACCS has been organising for the past eight years.

The event brings educators of Catholic schools together and helps them realise that they are carrying out an important part of the Church’s mission, says ACCS. The principals and vice-principals present also renew their commitment to their vocation as education leaders in Catholic schools.

In his homily during the Mass, Archbishop Nicholas Chia urged participants to develop a “listening heart” to hear God’s voice. He pointed out that “having a listening heart and having a reflective practice as educators are essential for our own well-being, our relationship with God and our neighbour”.

He stressed that “our schools are founded on the firm foundation of God’s love and we are sure that God fulfils His promise to be with us to the end. Our schools should be places of joy founded on truth and service.”

Below is some information on the new principals:

Mrs Daphne Sing, De La Salle School

Mrs Sing taught in both primary and secondary schools for 16 years before becoming vice-principal at Singapore Chinese Girls’ School (Primary) and Bukit Panjang Primary School. After three years as vice-principal, she was posted to the Ministry of Education Headquarters and worked in the Staff Training Branch for two years, planning training courses for teachers, and developing and implementing training and development policies and frameworks.

Her last posting was in the Curriculum Planning and Development Division as assistant director overseeing the development and implementation of the physical education, health education, home economics, civics and moral education curricula in schools.

Mr Adolphus Tan, St Patrick’s School

Mr Tan began his teaching career as a physics teacher at National Junior College from 1987. He was posted to Hong Kah Secondary School in 1995 as head of department of science. After a year as vice-principal, he was appointed principal of St Gabriel’s Secondary School in 1999.

Before taking up the leadership at St Patrick’s School, Mr Tan served as a senior quality assessor in the School Appraisal Branch, Ministry of Education, followed by a five-and-a-half-year stint as principal of Shuqun Secondary School, which is known for catering to academically weaker students.

Mrs Tan Wai Lan, CHIJ St Nicholas Girls’ School

Mrs Tan is an alumna of the school and says it is a privilege and honour to be back serving her alma mater. She has served in various capacities in schools and in the Ministry of Education.

She was principal of Anderson Secondary School from 2002-2005, and was also Deputy Director of National Education/Planning and Deputy Director of Psychological Services. Her last appointment before coming to St Nicholas Girls’ was Superintendent of East 4 Cluster. She said she looks forward to tapping on these experiences for her work at St Nicholas.

Mrs Denise Chelliah, St Francis Xavier Kindergarten


Mrs Chelliah has almost 20 years of early childhood experience with a private kindergarten. She said she got into early childhood education as she wanted to impart whatever she knew to young children.

She said, “The more memorable experiences have definitely taken place with the children and there are too many to mention... However meeting some of these children or their parents after 15, 18 years is always a highlight.”

Learning how well they are doing now, whether it is at school or work, “is so reassuring and inspiring”, she added.

Mrs Mabel Leong, Assumption English School

Mrs Leong has 30 years of experience being a teacher, and has been principal of Changkat Changi Secondary School, Hua Yi Secondary and now Assumption English. She also served a three-year stint in the Ministry of Education’s schools division as a cluster superintendent.

She said, “Coming back to school is to be on the ground and to be able to help our generation Z.”

She noted that students face various “social changes and challenges” in the 21st century, and that they will eventually “take up the responsibility to make a difference to the community”.

Mrs Catherine Chiang, St Gabriel’s Primary School

Mrs Chiang was previously a vice- principal at St Gabriel’s Primary School. Prior to that, she was at White Sands Primary for about a decade and held the position of head of department in information and communications technology. She was later promoted to vice principal.

“I feel very blessed that I have been chosen to lead St Gabriel’s Primary School,” she said. “Having spent my formative years in a convent, it was a homecoming of sorts for me. I am certainly looking forward to leading SGPS as the ethos of a Catholic school is congruent with my beliefs, views and philosophy of education – to shape lives for service to God and nation.”

By Don Gurugay




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