There’s a top teacher in the house!

What is it like to have a top teacher in the family? The President’s Award for Teachers (PAT) recognises excellent educators for their role in moulding the future of our nation. It recognises educators for their care and commitment to develop students to their fullest potential, while affirming their innovative approaches to teaching.

Eight recipients and nine finalists were honoured by President Halimah Yacob during the Teachers Day Reception at the Istana. We speak to five educators and their family members and find out what our top educators are like outside of school.

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“I feel blessed to have inspiring school leaders, mentors and colleagues, and of course, my wife and children who are my pillar of strength.

I also take my inspiration from my mother, who has guided and nurtured me to be the person I am today. Her grit, resilience and sincerity in putting others first impact how I teach and what I teach my students.

I would like to also dedicate this award to all PE teachers out there who have shown immense spirit in the past 2 years, going against all odds to ensure the learning of PE is still rigorous through their innovative and collaborative spirit. The fraternity has really shown its mettle in a time of national and global crisis. Kudos to all of you! This award is for all of us!”

– Mr Nasrun bin Mizzy, Head of Department, PE & CCA, Teck Whye Primary School

“Nasrun had always been a good boy but mischievous too. He used to wake up early to help me at my food stall, but later he would disappear to play football. He is kind and has a very good heart so I’m not surprised that he is loved by his students and colleagues.

I am so proud of him; I wish his father could be here to see the family man and good teacher he has become today.”

– Mdm Umi Kalsom bte Osman, Mr Nasrun’s mother 


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“This honour is thanks to the support of my school leaders and colleagues who believe in me and work alongside me to turn ideas into viable teaching and learning innovations. I have been teaching for almost 18 years and I find my work rewarding and meaningful as I have the opportunity to impact young lives.”

– Ms Tay Hui Cheng, Head of Department, Mother Tongue/ Chinese Language & Higher Chinese, St Anthony’s Canossian Secondary School

“People expect my Chinese grade to always be A1 as my mum is a Chinese teacher but in reality, I’m more a B3! I know she is proud of me as long as I put in my best effort and not give up.

When we were young, she would tell us funny stories at bedtime about “Da Da” and “Da Mei”, which were based on my brother and I and the silly things we did. Through these stories, we’d have a good laugh over the day’s events and learn lessons from any mistakes we made.”

Sometimes she is strict, but not about Chinese; it’s usually on matters related to safety and character, like how I should save for my wants while my parents provide for my needs.

– Darius Lim, 15, Ms Tay’s son


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“I feel grateful and humbled. To be nominated for this award is very encouraging and motivates me to do more to support my students’ learning.”

– Dr Maisha Foo, Course Chair, Diploma in Pharmaceutical Science, Temasek Polytechnic

“She has a quiet and reserved nature, but at the same time, academics was her strong suit; plus when she was mentoring undergrads, she had a passion for guiding them. So I encouraged her to apply for the lecturer position. This is awesome recognition for all the hard work she has put in.”

– Mr Muhammad Hafeez bin Abdul Majid, Dr Foo’s husband

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This award has made me reflect on my life and career journey thus far. I am eternally grateful to everyone who has walked the journey with me: my family, my colleagues and bosses, my students, and especially to my wife who has supported me and seen me grow from a technician to a senior lecturer.”

– Mr Christian James Sethmohan, Specialist (T&L), Media, Arts & Design School, Singapore Polytechnic

“I am very proud of James and of course I feel very happy that he is given this honour.

Yes, it was a big sacrifice back then, closing my florist business and selling our home and van to move overseas for his degree studies. It was worthwhile for our future and it was his passion to pursue a career in media.

I was watching an episode of Oprah on Teachers’ Day and was inspired by the impact teachers made on their students, hence I applied to MOE to teach. Frankly I had concerns going back to school after more than 20 years but then I thought, James did it, so can I!”

– Ms Tricia Wee Gwek Hiang, Mr Christian’s wife, who is also an educator

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“I am grateful to my family for making time and space for me to develop myself. I am also grateful to those who had guided me and believed in me, who made me feel that I can be somebody. There is always more that can be done for our students’ learning, and I am driven to create greater impact, with the support of the community around them.”

– Mr Lin Shao Jie, Lead Teacher, Mathematics & Additional Mathematics, Professional Development Lead, Riverside Secondary School

“We are proud and happy for him for this honour. My son-in-law has always been a thoughtful and thorough planner so I’m not surprised he is recognised for good lesson plans! When we travel together, or even just for a family staycation, he will send us an hour-by-hour itinerary with wet-weather plans — sometimes even back-up of back-up plans! This is his way of showing love.

He is also good at seeing things from others’ point of view. I learned from that, to also think longer before I make a decision.”

– Mr Lam Wan Cho, Mr Lin’s father-in-law (2nd from right)


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