New kid on block, but leaders with track record

New kid on block, but leaders with track record
Pupils and parents from Alexandra Primary School – (from left) Primary 1 pupil Muthukasi Vairaran Muthiah, seven, his mum Kavitha Palaniappan; Madam Cassandra Nadira Lee with her son Tengku Rayhan Tengku Razman (seated), eight, and husband Tengku Razman Tengku Othman; and Primary 1 pupil Kaleb Lin, six, with mum Pauline Soo, and brother Ayden Lin, seven.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

Despite advice from people not to "take risks" with her son's future, Madam Cassandra Nadira Lee, 41, placed him in a brand new school.

The training manager, who had been living in Dubai and Kuala Lumpur, interacted with Alexandra Primary School vice-principal Chan Yan Hoon for about a year over e-mail. Ms Chan's patience and commitment in answering her questions, from those about the school building to its curriculum, left a good impression on Madam Lee.

Despite the school not having a track record, many parents like Madam Lee looked to the its leaders, who had previously led popular schools, for assurance that their children would be in good hands.

The school, in Prince Charles Crescent in Bukit Merah, now has 210 pupils in each of its two Primary 1 and 2 cohorts. It took in its first batch of pupils last year.

Its principal, Mrs Lim Bee Lay, was the head of Maha Bodhi School and Ms Chan was the vice-principal of CHIJ St Nicholas Girls' School.

"I know my son is in good hands because the school leaders emphasise not just academics and grades, but also really care for the children," said Madam Lee.

"When my son couldn't read or write, the teachers didn't give up on him. They gave him extra help and he has improved tremendously."

Ms Kavitha Palaniappan, 35, said her Primary 1 son in Alexandra Primary cannot wait for the holidays to end so he can return to school.

"He really enjoys school, especially assembly time where they watch videos and learn values such as respect and resilience," said the private university lecturer.

Madam Pauline Soo, 41, who runs an online craft business, chose the new school for her two sons over favourites in the area such as Pei Hwa Presbyterian Primary School.

"Pei Hwa is very strong in academics, but Alexandra had a lot of pull factors - I heard good things about the principal and, as a new school, it gives a lot of opportunities to younger pupils, such as leading the flag-raising ceremony," she said.

In response to the bouquets, Mrs Lim said: "We feel honoured that our parents chose to entrust their children to us, even though we are the new kid on the block."

She added that besides building a strong foundation in literacy and numeracy, the school wants its pupils to grow up with good values and character. To that end, report books show their "grades" in traits such as leadership and empathy.

"A child could be very good in studies and still may not have good interpersonal skills, and that is what really matters," she said.

This article was first published on June 27, 2015.
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