She nurtures love of nature in pupils

Straits Times 30 Sep 11;

A PRESCHOOL director who turned an ordinary garden into a stimulating arena where children could learn about nature was honoured at an awards ceremony yesterday.

Ms Josephyne Ho (right), 41, wanted pupils to have more class time outdoors so they could better grasp green issues. To breathe life into the grounds at EtonHouse Pre-School in Mountbatten, she put in more plants, a sunbird sanctuary and a butterfly garden.

'If children are detached from nature, they will find it hard later to appreciate why they have to save the environment,' she said.

The senior preschool director received an Outstanding Early Childhood Leader award from the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports during the ceremony held at Suntec Singapore International Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Ms Ho, a former Singapore Airlines stewardess, said it was hard to convince the teachers when she took over at Mountbatten four years ago. Later, she realised one of their concerns was the lack of shade, so she had frames installed for creepers to grow on, which gave some relief from the sun.

EtonHouse teacher Joy Tan looks up to Ms Ho as a role model because of her hands-on approach. 'She doesn't expect us to implement new directions on our own. Instead, she works closely with us from the bottom up.'

The ministry also gave Outstanding Early Childhood Teacher awards to Ms Lim Poh Beng, 46, and Ms Siti Asjamiah Asmuri, 39, in the Child Care Teacher category, and to Ms Islinda Idris, 36, in the Infant Educarer category.

My First Skool at Kallang Bahru won the Early Childhood Innovation award, while Persatuan Pemudi Islam Singapura and Educa earned the Exemplary Early Childhood Employer award.

Ms Ho said she hopes her win will inspire other preschools to introduce green education. 'My work is not done - this is just the tip of the iceberg.'