Working With The Children Of The Future

Poh Jia Yi, Bee is an Executive Principal at My First Skool (Kampung Admiralty) who received multiple company-sponsored developmental opportunities during her 10-year career.

The NTUC First Campus Pre-Service Scholarship is a new scholarship programme targeting future leadership potentials who are interested in a career in the Early Childhood sector. Applications are open from 1 January to 31 March 2020 for all A Levels/IB/IP and Polytechnic graduates who are keen to take up full-time degree programme in Early Childhood Education with Minor with Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS). Successful applicants will benefit from a full-degree programme course sponsorship* and be exposed to the differentiated leadership opportunities upon completion of the programme. You can look forward to a purposeful career with NTUC First Campus.

What sparks your interest in Early Childhood Care and Education?
Since young, I have always aspired to be a teacher. I enjoyed taking care of the younger children in my family, which gave me a sense of fulfilment, and this was what shaped my dream to nurture young lives. Hence, being an early childhood educator is, to me an ideal and meaningful job.

What are the opportunities that the company has given during your employment with NTUC First Campus (NFC)?
During my employment with NTUC First Campus (NFC), I took a degree in Early Childhood Education with Wheelock College (offered as a collaboration with Singapore Institute of Technology). This was sponsored by the company after working with them for 1.5 years.

Having prior experience working with young children helped me better contextualise and expanded my perspective on how I could make a difference in the Early Childhood sector. Upon completion of the course, I was able to apply, contribute and innovate the learnings in my teaching capacity.

In 2012, I was given the opportunity to attend an in-house Principal-in-training leadership course, which equipped me with skills and knowledge as a centre leader. I was also selected to join an external leadership programme, Principal Matters, which broadened my leadership exposure. In 2019, I was nominated to embark on a 3-year ECDA leadership programme, Professional Development Programme – Leadership (PDP-L). I continuously stay equipped with new skills that have since helped in my leadership journey.

How did the company support in your career growth?
NFC fosters a very strong learning culture where we are encouraged to progressively grow. The organisation provides a strong mentoring and support structure to enhance my competencies. Such support allows me to progress towards a career pathway (e.g. Leadership / Specialist track) that best suits me. The robust training and development allow me to attend numerous skills related training programmes that help continually develop different skill sets that are required at different levels. As a leader, we continue to hone our leadership skills in the Early Childhood sector. We have a close-knitted group of professionals for community learning, sharing leadership experiences and practices.

Share with us how do you keep up with best practices in your centre.
I believe it is the responsibility of everyone to build the community that we want to live in and educators can tap on the learning environment to facilitate child-directed learning. As mentioned, NFC supports our continuous professional development. Therefore, we had opportunities to attend sponsored overseas learning journey and learn best practices from other countries. As such, I have benefitted from my week-long learning journey to Reggio Emilia, Italy. The Reggio Emilia approach values home-school involvement and uses the environment as the third teacher in class. The learning journey experience allowed me to witness the approach and practices in action with a deeper understanding on top of my usual learning through reading.

Being a reflective practitioner, I adapted several good ideas and introduced it to the teachers at the centre. Some of which was to introduce loose parts as part of the classroom resources for children to explore and strengthening collaboration with families and community partners. I was happy to be able to share my experiences with other Early Childhood professionals.

Share with us one of your biggest achievements or memorable encounters as an Early Childhood Educator.
My greatest achievement was the pilot and implementation of the intergenerational programme at my centre. It was very meaningful and satisfying to see how the children developed social skills, inculcate values and love through interaction with seniors. On the other hand, the seniors were well-engaged through activities such as storytelling, music and dance, art and craft, morning walks and community exercise. The teachers also experienced the warmth from such community collaboration. This initiative had been scaled up to involve many of our centres. Community resources are beneficial in extending curriculum as it encourages learning experiences beyond classroom together with the different community stakeholders.

Share with us one of your most rewarding moments as an Early Childhood Educator.
It is rewarding when I can support children from high-risk families to ensure that they have a good start in life, like many of their peers. I would monitor the children's attendance and check-in with different stakeholders to understand the needs and well-being of the children. It could be speaking to parents or family members, teachers, social workers and specialists. The time and effort spent to pull these families together is the most rewarding moment.

Do you have any advice for interested parties who are considering to join this sector / take up a NFC Pre-Service Scholarship?
In the novice teacher phase, it can be challenging to juggle between different duties - from understanding how to take on a class for the first time, communicating effectively with parents and stakeholders, supporting school operations and carrying out required administration. With constant reflection and a positive mind-set, the job will develop you to become a better individual and to overcome challenges.  Be as inquisitive as a child and keep an open mind in gaining new perspectives and skills. I am glad that there is Pre-Service Scholarship offered by NFC today to identify early childhood talents early and to embark on this journey with us after enrolment into the Early Childhood Degree programme. I will encourage those who possess the interest and commitment to consider this new scholarship.


*NTUC First Campus Pre-Service Scholarship
Poh Jia Yi, Bee
Attained: Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood, Wheelock College
Now: Executive Principal at My First Skool – Kampung Admiralty

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