Our School
Student Development
Home > Newsroom > News Archive > 2013 News and Events > Smooth Transition Of Principals Of Similar Substance, Dissimilar Styles

Smooth Transition Of Principals Of Similar Substance, Dissimilar Styles

Hugs and handshakes were the order of the day after Principal Deborah Tan informed the school body during Assembly of her impending departure from Singapore Sports School.

Principal Deborah Tan takes her leave from Singapore Sports School on 14 December 2013; Principal Tan Teck Hock comes on board the next day.

In an email sent to all staff at Singapore Sports School on 12 December 2013, Ms Yeoh Chee Yan Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth’s Permanent Secretary and Sports School Board Chairman, said there have been many improvements that Mrs Tan spearheaded and succeeded during her six years of service at the Sports School, but what she sees as “the measure of her mettle as principal of a school where ‘student-athletes are our focus’, is how student-athletes and alumni view her.”

Ms Yeoh said: “Following the announcement by the Ministry of Education and MCCY about Deborah’s impending departure from the Sports School, social media was abuzz with tributes from alumni.”

Ms Yeoh quoted Isabelle Li Siyun: “Mrs Tan shared that it is never about juggling both sports and studies but maximising our potential in both. This new perspective has inspired me to reach greater heights, push beyond my limits and break boundaries.”

Isabelle said Mrs Tan didn’t just see her as a straight ‘A’ student; neither did Mrs Tan just identify her as a national table tennis player. Rather, Mrs Tan saw Isabelle as she would any other student, a teenager with the potential to become a Learned Champion With Character. 

Isabelle added: “The greatest lesson that I’ve learnt from Mrs Tan, my principal and my mentor during my Sports School years, is that being a champion isn’t just limited to sporting or academic success, collecting certificates and trophies, but to be someone of character – someone who knows success is greatest when shared with a heart of gratitude.”

Ms Yeoh also quoted Tao Li, who had simply said: “Mrs Tan is one of the best principals I’ve had.”

Ms Yeoh noted that Audrey Lim, President of the Students’ Council, had said: “Mrs Tan expects the best of her own. And because she has recognised us as her very own, we are strengthened to forge on, to give our very best in meeting whatever may come our way.”

Audrey added: “Your empathy, your assurance and your trust in us have more than just satisfied our craving for hope and validation but also given us confidence in our actions and decisions. Thank you for your unwavering conviction that student-athletes should not be limited to choice and calculation of his abilities but rather to lead a life to maximise his potential…

“By your living standard, you have helped us understand that our worlds can and should be open enough and wide enough for everyone, of all walks of life, to be included. Your kind and understanding nature has truly touched our lives.”

Ms Yeoh said these tributes by student-athletes are “the highest accolades for a principal who has made a meaningful impact.” She added: “All of us, Board Members, staff, the student-athletes and I believe their parents, too, will miss Deborah.”

In a separate email to key stakeholders of MCCY on 10 November 2013, soon after MOE announced the transition of principals, Ms Yeoh said under Mrs Tan’s stewardship, the Sports School developed of the “School-Within-A-School” programme for select student-athletes who have both the performance and potential to be on the elite sport development pathway in badminton, golf and table tennis. SportSmart Skills, another innovation under her watch, was developed to give student-athletes fundamental motor and movement skills as well as a strong grounding in sports science education, for well-rounded athleticism.

Mrs Tan also led the Sports School Team in developing two extended education pathways for student-athletes by-passing the GCE “O” Level Examinations – a six-year pathway leading to the award of the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme and a seven-year pathway leading to a customised Diploma in Sports and Leisure Management in partnership with Republic Polytechnic.

“Both programmes are designed to allow student-athletes to attain broad-based and rigorous pre-tertiary qualifications widely accepted for entry into both local and overseas universities. These education pathways provide greater flexibility for student-athletes to pursue sporting and academic excellence concurrently, and offer a total curriculum anchored upon principles of Long-Term Athlete Development and rigorous teaching and learning,” said Ms Yeoh.

Ms Yeoh noted that Mrs Tan had led the Sports School through exciting times – the School was one of the competition venues at the  inaugural Youth Olympics Games in 2010, where 22 Sports School student-athletes participated in the Games, contributing two individual medals and a team bronze medal to Singapore’s total medal tally. Under her watch, alumnus Scott Ang Yiqiang was awarded the President’s Scholarship. 

Mrs Tan will continue her career in a senior position at the Ministry of Education Headquarters, leading the Gifted Education Programme.

“Both the Singapore Sports School and the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth bid Deborah farewell and wish her the very best in her new appointment,” said Ms Yeoh.

Ms Yeoh also extended a warm welcome to Mr Tan.

She said Mr Tan has served in the Education Service since 1992, leading schools at both the secondary and junior college levels, serving as principal of Yishun Town Secondary School from December 1999 to December 2005, and principal of Serangoon Junior College from December 2006 to December 2010. He is credited with raising the quality of education in both schools.
“He was selected as the founding Principal of the Physical Education and Sports Teacher Academy because of his special qualities as an educator, a leader and a champion for sports. He was instrumental in introducing a comprehensive suite of programmes for PE and Sports teachers to enhance their professional development and capacity for delivery of a holistic education.”

Ms Yeoh added that Mr Tan is known as a strong and capable leader with a passion for sports and she is confident he will take the Sports School to new heights. She looked forward to his able leadership in furthering the School’s vision of being the premier sports school which nurtures “Learned Champions With Character”.

It would be the last staff event with Mrs Deborah Tan as Principal of Singapore Sports School and everyone wanted a picture for their album of memories.