Career switch for love of teaching

Career switch for love of teaching

Date
Thursday, 07 July 2011

Media Type
My Paper

IT STARTED in primary school, when she saw that there was not much awareness of and support for the needs of two friends with disabilities.

One of them had trouble understanding lessons while the other was wheelchair-bound, observed Ms Lindis Tan, 29. But teachers could do little else but stick to their task of imparting academic knowledge, she said.

Fast-forward 20 years, and Ms Tan is an allied educator in learning and behavioural support. She received her diploma in special education from the National Institute of Education (NIE) yesterday.

Allied educators assist teachers and give support to special-needs students in mainstream schools.

It was a calling which took her seven years to respond to.

While she initially considered a psychology-related career, Ms Tan pursued a diploma in legal studies at Temasek Polytechnic in 1999, at her father's suggestion.

After graduation, she became a paralegal and worked in law firms until three years ago. She also took steps to pursue her original dream. In 2006, she enrolled in a part-time three-year psychology degree course with UniSIM. After she obtained the degree, she quit her paralegal job in 2008 and took a year off to consider her options. She applied to be an allied educator in the Ministry of Education a year later.

As to why she opted for special education, she said it would be most fruitful for her to work with special-needs children.

She remembers being affected by her volunteer experience at the Christian Outreach To The Handicapped during her secondary-school years.

"There's a start-off point for everything that we do. If I didn't try, I would never know how it would turn out to be," she said.

Never mind that she took "a significant pay cut", as Ms Tan finds fulfilment "as a facilitator who helps children develop skills that will aid them in learning and personal development".

She was posted to St Anthony's Canossian Secondary School in May.

Like Ms Tan, Mr Rajandaran Sinnapan and Ms Joyce Yeo made mid-career switches to follow their calling and go into teaching.

The three are among NIE's 1,961 graduates who are receiving their certificates and awards at the Teachers' Investiture Ceremony held at the Nanyang Technological University. The event started yesterday and will end tomorrow.

Ms Yeo, in her mid-40s, was a finance manager in Swiss International Air Lines before she quit the airline industry after 20 years.

She obtained her diploma in education yesterday and will pursue a bachelor's degree in education.

Mr Rajandaran, who does not want to reveal his age, was an engineer for more than 20 years before becoming a teacher to special-needs children with Grace Orchard School.

Source: My Paper, sph