Say hello to Chris Fensom, Principal of UWCSEA Infant School, Dover Campus. We continue the Little Steps Talking Heads series, where parents can meet, greet, and get tips from Singapore’s Heads Of Schools. Get personal with these fabulous personalities and find out what makes them tick, their advice for parents navigating the schooling scene, and their favorite things about life in the city.
1. Do you have a nickname? Not really, but a shortened name as everyone calls me ‘Chris’ and only Christine when I am in trouble.
2. Where were you born and where did you grow up? I was born in a small village called Calver in the Peak District in Derbyshire, UK. A very beautiful part of the world - the Primary School I attended had 60 students quite different to the Infant School at UWCSEA as we have 290 students.
3. Where do you live in the city and why do you love it there? I live in a condominium on Sunset Way, in the west of Singapore. I love it because there are lots of trees and birds, it is also only 10 minutes drive to work.
4. What's in your lunchbox? I usually buy lunch from the canteen and I try to have salad every day although sometimes I am tempted by the curry and naan.
1. What or who inspired you to become a Principal? The first school I taught in was led by a wonderful headmistress who was very supportive to me as a young teacher. If a job needed doing or a teacher needed support she would be the first one there to help. She often arrived at school with teaching aids that she had made to help build up my bank of resources as a new teacher. I follow her example of leadership by supporting my staff in practical ways and I am more likely to be found working with others in the engine room than alone on the bridge!
2. Describe your school in 5 words or less! A vibrant, happy, caring community.
1. What's your favorite thing on your desk and why? A photograph of my three children Rachael, Andrew and Laura taken on a wonderful family holiday in Australia. They left Singapore to study in the UK and now work in London; my husband Jim and I miss them heaps.
2. What are your 3 favorite children's books? The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams, Koala Loo by Mem Fox and The Invisible String by Patrice Karst.
1. What is the best way for parents to be involved in their children’s education? Show a real interest in what your child has experienced each day in school. Set aside time in the evening to talk as a family about what you have done that day and share the excitement of each other’s achievements and the stress of the frustrations that are all part of daily life at work and school. In the fast paced life that many expatriate families lead with one, or sometimes both parents, working long hours or travelling, it is easy for children to miss out on family time during the week. Young children live in the moment and they want to share their news straight away – it will be forgotten by the weekend.
2. Any tips for parents when applying for schools? Always visit the school you are interested in when children are there and take in the atmosphere in the classrooms and corridors. Are the children and the teachers smiling and happy? Is there a buzz in the classrooms – schools should not be silent places as good learning takes place when children are engaged in discussions and working collaboratively. Talk to parents with children already at the school and seek their views about their child’s experience.
3. What's the best advice a teacher or head teacher ever gave you? Follow your passion in life and make sure you choose a career that inspires you and makes you eager to jump out of bed every morning. Teaching has certainly ticked every box for me. I certainly could not have endured a 6.00am ‘get-up’ for the last 24 years in Singapore if I was not going off to work in a school where the children and my colleagues inspire me; where I am rewarded with the satisfaction of knowing I am making a difference in the lives of others and where joy and laughter are always a part of each day.
UWCSEA Infant School, Dover Campus
1207 Dover Road, Singapore 139654
+65 6775 5344