Spirits soared high as over 200 staff from various centres and HQ arrived for PPS Learning Day: The Art of Learning in unique and quirky outfits with vibrant pops of colour. Some were particularly early as they were excited to catch up with those they had not seen in a while. After all, this was the very first time in over two years since the pandemic hit that the entire PPS family was gathering in one place!
Some staff expressed their positive feelings about meeting each other face-to-face on such a large scale: “I could finally see people that I‘ve been talking to online – I had never seen their actual faces, or even how tall they were! I also missed those that I have not met for quite some time because they were in different centres.” - Jenny Lim, Assistant Manager, Human Resources.
“After 2-3 years, it was exciting to have everyone together in one place. It created a different bond, and it was satisfying to meet one another face-to face.“ - Austria Maria Beatriz Oruga, Vice-Principal, AMK Centre
“我们很像一个大家庭，互相分享，互相帮助，互相学习，共同进步。很温暖，很开心。“ - Lu Xiaolu, Chinese Preschool Teacher, Pasir Ris 21 Centre “As I am new to PPS, gathering together as one made me realise that we are a big family working towards the same goal. It is very encouraging to know that there are many others that are also going through this journey called 'Change'.” - Bethanie Wong, Vice-Principal, Ghim Moh Centre
Everyone was told to wear something artsy and colourful, a theme that was open to individual interpretation. Some centres came in matching headgear that they had DIY-ed; others came in their favourite attire. Tapping on their creativity, some even customized their outfits using their artistic talents by incorporating original designs.
We kicked off the day with an energetic session of praise and worship, thanking God for the day that he had made. We raised our voices to sing and also joined in to do some stretches and actions to the songs as a warm-up for the day ahead!
Next, our Executive Director, Lim Ee Tuo reminded staff that our organisation is still not in a good place yet, and we need to work very hard as a team to overcome challenges before us. Change would be the only constant moving forward; we must learn to adapt quickly to suit our children’s needs.
He emphasized that love is the essence of excellence: “I hope we can build a culture in our school as we work hard to do better we continue to support one another and show love and care. That’s the essence of excellence. 你要会做人 - we must learn how to do good. This is something I hope that is in our spirit.” - Executive Director, Lim Ee Tuo.
He also told a personal anecdote about his experience with Chicken Essence when he was younger, to highlight the point that we must be educators with substance – putting others before our self-interest and doing our work in love. Lim Lian Choon, Principal (Holland Village Centre) reflected, “Through the sharing by our Executive Director Ee Tuo, we were made more aware of external challenges in the Early Childhood field.
It awakens everyone in the team that includes non-teaching staff to accept changes; be equipped to meet the challenges ahead and bring out the best in the work we do.”
The different HQ Teams and Principals were invited on stage so that they could finally be introduced to those staff who never had a chance to meet them! The highlight of the day came as teaching staff attended art workshops in both English and Mandarin, while other staff headed off to BollyWood Veggies, a local vegetable farm, for a special learning journey.
At the art workshops, staff had the opportunity to do hands-on activities. First, they had to create a collage using coloured papers and marbled paintings.
Tiffany Wong, an English Preschool Teacher (Yishun Centre) learnt that knowing the different stages of art development in children encourages them to explore art processes freely, without being overly concerned about the "what to do" rule. She added, “The hands-on activities allowed us to explore our own creativity. Seeing other teachers’ work helped me realise that creativity knows no bounds, giving us the opportunity to appreciate others’ art creations.”
“I enjoyed the time away from the centre, doing something therapeutic like art. Enjoying beauty and the process of creating stuff together.” - Amelie Lee, Senior Preschool Teacher, Hougang Centre.
Teachers also got to create a mobile, using a variety of materials like yarns, twigs, baking cups, pipe cleaners and more to create a 3D art display.
“I enjoyed especially learning more about the stages of art development in children and being able to create artworks according to what we like. My one takeaway that I will definitely apply at work would be to narrate children’s work factually rather than trying to interpret according to my point of view," shared Ramos Jeanna Renee Manalansan, English Preschool Teacher, Tampines Centre.
Lu Xiaolu, Chinese Preschool Teacher (Pasir Ris 21 Centre) shared similar thoughts: “很高兴能够通过亲手操作，理解和认识还在在美术表达上的发展阶段。我学到一点是孩子在进行美术创作的时候，老师不要过度的参与，要多多聆听孩子们自己的表达，自己的想法。”
After the art workshop, our very own Bethanie (Vice-Principal, Ghim Moh Centre), who used to work at Singapore International Airlines, led a Professional Image Workshop for the teaching staff. She shared useful tips on how staff can improve their professional appearance through makeup, dressing, and interactions with others.
Everyone learnt new things such as dressing according your body shape, and choosing the right hairstyle for your face shape. “I learnt that you need to know your skin undertone to match the right colour of clothes,” shared Margie Lee, Principal, Pasir Ris 21 Centre.
Bethanie even introduced some hacks on how teachers can get ready with minimal makeup products in just a few minutes. Finally, she treated everyone to a live make-up tutorial – just like a professional make-up artist!
“I would like to thank the Lord for the opportunity that HQ has given me to share about a topic of my interest, and for calming my nerves as I spoke. I am thankful for having awesome colleagues around me who believed and supported me too,“ Bethanie Wong, Vice-Principal, Ghim Moh Centre. Over at Bollywood Veggies, staff went on a guided tour farm, where the tour guide shared some interesting facts and uses about plants grown there.
Lai Wan Pheng, Admin Assistant (Hougang Centre) reflected, “I enjoyed exploring nature and learned how each individual plant is grown. Nurturing a plant well is of utmost importance, so that a seed that is sown can grow in to a beautiful plant. It was a very fruitful learning journey.”
Thereafter, they proceeded to find out whether or not they had greenfingers! Each person had the chance to try their hand at planting a pandan plant in a pot which they could bring home. They would be able to harvest the leaves once they are fully grown!
“I loved seeing all my colleagues gather and make time to catch up with each other - there was a warm atmosphere during Learning Day which made it easy to relax. The guided tour exposed me to new varieties of plants that I had never heard of before, and pot planting was enjoyable since the process of planting the Pandan leaves was easy to follow,” shared Steffie Hui, Admin Assistant, Pasir Ris 21 Centre.
They ended their trip to the farm with a sumptuous lunch which was prepared with ingredients that were freshly harvested from the farm. The feast included dishes such as curry chicken, fish otah and stir-fried spinach. Yummy! Jenny Lim, Assistant Manager (Human Resources) said, “The main thing I enjoyed was the bonding and getting to know people. Everyone was very open to interact. Some of us were even talking about planning a trip together to Malaysia or Batam!”
We all had a great time of interaction and learning during PPS Learning Day: The Art of Learning, and really appreciated the luxury of gathering together physically. For those who have been with PPS for many years and counting, it felt like a long-awaited reunion. For those who joined us recently, meeting new colleagues was inspiring and refreshing.
“Gathering after 2 years feels unburdening, and there is a sense of togetherness too as we got to meet all our colleagues we haven't met in a while,” shared Tiffany Wong, English Preschool Teacher (Yishun Centre). Indeed, we are all part of a larger family that is PPS, and coming together as one re-emphasized the importance of community, mutual support and a culture of love. It's safe to say we’re already looking forward to the next PPS Learning Day! (Note: We would like to express our appreciation and thanks to Church of Our Saviour for opening up their premises for our use.)