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Putting Heart and Humour into Early Childhood Education

It’s not often that you meet someone who can make you feel instantly at ease, yet energised and inspired at the same time. That’s the magic of Sabrina, Principal from Star Learners @ Pasir Ris, whose unique blend of warmth, humour and passion for early childhood education has made her a standout in our community. 

What sets Sabrina apart isn’t just that – it’s her genuine ability to connect with children, their families and colleagues that has been truly transformative. Whether through her love of silly costumes, her ability to inspire others, or her infectious enthusiasm for life, Sabrina is a true leader who has not only made a difference in the lives of countless young children, but also created for herself, a fulfilling and purposeful journey at Star Learners.

Principal, Pasir Ris
11 years with Star Learners

How did you get your start in the early childhood education industry?

My initial career aspirations were different; my mother had suggested that I become a Chinese teacher at MOE, so when I went for the interview, I was asked if I read any Chinese publications, to which I answered I 周刊 (i-Weekly magazine) (laughs)! Of course, I didn’t pass that interview. Then, I was accepted into the course for early childhood education. Although it was not my first choice, I was intrigued by the idea of working with young children and decided to give it a try.

I have been in the early childhood education industry since 2009. The preschool I joined was then acquired by Star Learners and I have been here ever since! This year marks my 11th year with the organisation, during which I have held various roles. I started out as an English teacher at our Sengkang centre, then later, at Pasir Ris. In 2019, I was promoted to Senior Teacher, and most recently, in December 2021, I was appointed Principal.

What has been the most fulfilling aspect of your Star Learners journey?

The most rewarding part of my job is the sense of fulfilment I get when I receive heartfelt notes and accolades from children and their parents. One particular experience that stands out to me was when I taught an N2 class in Pasir Ris back in 2016 that included children with special needs. Despite a debate over whether they should be involved in a performance, I pushed for it and tried to make it work for them. In the end, I received notes of appreciation from parents thanking me for believing in their children and giving them the chance to perform.

I am also grateful for the lasting relationships that I have built with the children and their parents even after they have graduated. When they come back to visit, it is always a joy to see how much they have grown. One experience that stands out to me was when a former K2 child’s younger brother joined our centre many years after his graduation. His parents remembered me and all the other teachers even after all those years so I was touched by their appreciation, even when they said “Sabrina, we’re bringing you your nightmare 2.0” (laughs). Moments like these make my job very fulfilling, and I am grateful for them.

Ultimately, it is the appreciation and relationships that keep me going in this
industry. Knowing that I have made a positive impact on the children and their family’s lives is the most rewarding part of my job.

One of the parents brought their second child to us and declared “Sabrina, we’re bringing you your nightmare 2.0”! Moments like these make my job very fulfilling, and I am grateful for them.

You’re known to be very hands-on when it comes to the centre’s special events and celebrations. Can you share some of the most memorable things you have done and what motivates you to put in so much effort?

We used to celebrate Silly Costumes Day on April Fools’ Day. This was a day where children and teachers alike could be silly and dress up in outrageous costumes. On one occasion, I dressed up as Black Panther  – I made my costume out of a black garbage bag and added a printed necklace. We all had a good laugh about it!

I also rented a costume and played the role of Santa for a parent-child gift exchange event at Christmas. Some of the children were hesitant to approach me because of my beard and costume. I had to reassure them that it was me under all that! Eventually, I took off the beard to make things less confusing (laughs). 

During Grandparents’ Day, a colleague and I also organised a karaoke session for the grandparents. Together with the children, we sang along to the songs their grandparents chose, and even wore wigs to liven up the atmosphere. It was a great bonding session for the children and their grandparents, and I was glad we were part of it.

It brings my team and I a lot of joy when we see children enjoying these occasions together with their loved ones. The teachers have so much fun participating in the activities too, and makes the planning all worth it!

What are your well wishes for Star Learners as we celebrate 20 Inspiring Years?

I hope that Star Learners continues to prosper and grow. If the company does well, I will be well too (laughs)!