This is what Ms A. Susila has been doing for the past 34 years, working in early childhood education and helping children with special needs reach their own “Ah-ha!” moment. That moment happens when a child is able to spontaneously carry out a task that he/she was taught previously or make an appropriate response to a situation when before that, this child had never spoken before.
Susila is the recipient of the inaugural Outstanding/Promising Early Intervention Professional Award 2021 presented at the Awards for Excellence in Early Childhood Development 2021 organized by the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA). The award recognized her excellence in designing and implementing early intervention support programs, strengthening partnerships with families and the community to make a difference in the lives of children with developmental needs.
When she first started in her job, Susila thought that children with disabilities can be recognized from what they look like or their behavior, for example, by using a wheelchair, facial features, hyperactivity or visual impairment. When she was assigned to support children with diverse needs, she was apprehensive and worried. It took some time but she began to understand that many of them are like every other child who can be taught many of the same skills. They have the same emotions of joy and sadness, go through the learning processes of how to take care of their own physical needs, anxious when in a new situation and unsure how to express themselves in words and actions. The difference is that they need a longer time and more patience from the adults during their learning process.
As the Senior Learning Support Educator, Susila can attest to the fact that she would not be where she is today without the ‘gardeners’ in her life. She credits her Assistant Director Ms Kanniga who saw in her a good and healthy seed that can grow and flourish under the right conditions. Then there was her mentor, the late Ms Gomathey who nurtured and watered her by putting challenges in her way and believing in her abilities when she did not believe in herself.
Using the same planting analogy, Susila came to the realization that she may not see fruits during the child’s time in PCS even after the challenging work of meeting their diverse needs and spending time and energy on each child. But the rewards come when ex-students visit her many years later, to introduce their families to her or thank her for believing in them and guiding them at their own pace. At those times, she only wants to give them a standing ovation and tell them “Well done!”
Thank you, Susila. For all the lives you have touched, for the families that you have supported and for patiently and tirelessly working with children who did not know how to help themselves, you deserve the pat on your shoulders. PCS bless you too, with God’s blessings and may our Heavenly Father say also to you, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’ (Matthew: 25:23)
(Video Credits to Beanstalk Singapore)
And he took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.” Mark 9:36 - 37