SL Andrew Tan

Mr Andrew Tan

I have always wanted to be a teacher. Since I was a young boy, I felt I had a knack for explaining things to those around me in a way that was interesting and more easily understood. After my A-Levels, I spent a few months as a relief teacher at a secondary school. I connected with the students and loved the experience very much.

At the National University of Singapore, I read both my favourite subjects in junior college, Chemistry and Economics, and eventually majored in Chemistry and Biochemistry. I went on to complete my undergraduate studies, focussing on Biochemistry, with First Class Honours. I spent slightly over a year at the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology while I considered pursuing a PhD. Work as a scientist was intellectually invigorating and enjoyable but lacked the connection with people, especially students, that I longed for. I decided to sign up to be a teacher, according to the plan I had all along.

At my first posting in a junior college, I fell in love with teaching Chemistry and often told my students that I was really there to teach them about life. I never saw myself leaving the classroom until I heard a member of the Ministry of Education (MOE) senior management say, ‘If you believe you are good, you will want to find yourself in a place where you can multiply your effect.’ Those words from a dialogue session influenced my outlook on my teaching career. I served as a Head of Department, overseeing the early years of Project Work implementation. In 2004, I pursued a Master of Science in Education (Education Policy) at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education on a MOE Postgraduate Scholarship and served a two-year stint at the Planning Division of MOE HQ. I was subsequently posted to another junior college as Vice-Principal before embarking on the Leaders in Education Programme.

My first Principalship was at Montfort Secondary School. There, I worked closely with the School Management Committee, Alumni and Montfort Junior School to co-create stronger common identity and a 10-year educational experience for the wonderful students who came through our gates focussed on Boy-Centric Education. Six years later, I was posted to the Schools Division as Senior Consultant (School Excellence) and was part of the team that reviewed, revised and rolled out an organisational development framework to support school improvement in partnership with School Leaders and Middle Managers. I was there for seven years before joining Eunoia Junior College.

Reflecting on the last 20 years of my time at MOE, I have been excited by three areas of work – working with young people to see them blossom, supporting the careers and professional development of staff, and shaping the culture of an organisation into one that is inviting, invigorating and innovative. I am deeply mindful and grateful that I am here today because of the many people in my life who have supported, encouraged and inspired me to learn and grow. I hope to be able to continue those areas of work here making a difference to one and all in the spirit of Beautiful Thinking, Goodwill to All!