The inclusive culture creates good vibes in our preschool environment, and everyone enjoys coming to work.”
—Mdm Ho Mee Khuen
In this month’s Staff Spotlight, we speak to Mdm Ho Mee Khuen, one of our longest-serving staff with YWCA Preschool. Mdm Ho has served YWCA for 40 years and is currently the Centre Leader at YWCA Preschool @ Pasir Ris. We ask her about her journey with YWCA and to share with us her thoughts about the workplace culture and team dynamics.
Q: Tell us about your journey with YWCA Preschool. How did it start, and what is one thing you like about working at YWCA?
A: I started my career as a teacher aide before going through courses, from foundation certificates to a diploma and a degree. I started working at Marine Drive and was transferred to Bedok, and then eventually to Pasir Ris to set up the centre with the Centre Leader. It was at Pasir Ris that I was promoted to Senior Teacher. In September 1999, I was promoted to Centre Leader.
I like the culture in my centre, especially the diversity, teamwork and respect we have for each other. We do not impose our religious beliefs on our colleagues. For instance, when our Muslim colleague is fasting, we empathise and help to conduct physical exercises on her behalf, and we try not to plan field trips during the fasting month. The inclusive culture creates good vibes in our preschool environment, and everyone enjoys coming to work.
Q: Of YWCA Preschool’s 4 core values– Compassion, Competence, Confidence Respect — which resonate with you the most?
I believe that mutual respect creates a positive work environment and motivates staff to increase their productivity and collaboration. When the staff feel respected, it boosts their self-esteem, and they will show the same amount of respect for others.
Teaching a class of young children
Q: What are some of the biggest challenges or obstacles you have faced in your role?
A: Manpower management, recruiting teachers and staff.
Q: What is the most exciting thing you are working on right now?
A: Working towards SPARKS re-certification. SPARKS re-certification is essential for our centre as this will enhance our preschool’s image and motivate our staff.
Q: How do you empower teachers to be leaders and role models for the children?
A: Delegate duties according to the teacher’s capabilities and skills and send teachers for professional development courses. I’ll always remind my teachers to lead by example and show care, love, and concern to the children so they can learn these behaviours from them.
Working closely with families
Q: How do you build a positive school culture?
A: Listen to the voices of the teachers and encourage and motivate them when needed. Giving staff a flexible schedule for work will enable them to manage their commitments effectively.
To motivate the staff, allow them to work at their own pace while meeting their deadlines and goals. Trust that your staff will do great and try not to micromanage them.
Q: What would you do at YWCA Preschool to ensure team success?
A: I value my team, and I explain how we can work together to ensure everyone is working towards the same goal. It is helpful to set specific goals to ensure everyone understands their role. It is also helpful to break complicated tasks into smaller components and assign staff to complete them according to their strengths. I will schedule regular checks with my staff and discuss their progress and difficulties.
Q: What vision do you have for YWCA Preschool and your students?
A: My vision for YWCA Preschool is to grow our Inclusive Preschool Programme and empower our children to develop holistically by equipping them with life skills. On top of that, I would also like positively impact each child by making sure all children have the opportunity to learn and grow, reach their potential, and become moral people.
Q: In your opinion, what qualities should a good leader possess?
A: A leader should be supportive, encouraging, and able to guide and motivate a team. They should be a role model and delegate tasks to the most appropriate staff based on their strength and knowledge while sharing their expertise and knowledge with their team, giving employees autonomy and ownership over their work.
A good leader is a good communicator, so her team is clear on the goals and will know what exactly is expected from them. She is also an active listener, open-minded and able to accept ideas and suggestions from her team. She is patient, empathetic and dependable and supports her team emotionally.
A leader is also a trusted person with whom her team can build a meaningful working relationship and share without hesitation.
We thank Mdm Ho for her dedication towards her work, her commitment to our organisation and her passion for nurturing young children. We hope that in the years to come, her work will continue to be a blessing towards her colleagues, as well as the children and parents at YWCA Preschool.
At YWCA of Singapore, we believe that people are our greatest asset. It is the driving force that keeps our organisation going. Whether you are an educator, a service staff, or a support executive, every employee contributes to fulfilling the YWCA mission of outreach and empowering the lives of others.