Valedictorian 2018

Valedictorian's Testimonials

 

Good morning one and all, Today is the day. Today is the day we woke up and tried to wash down a mixture of excitement and nervousness with a nice strong cup of coffee. After all, coffee is supposed to make everything better.

 

Today is the day we rushed around the house, frantically trying to find that missing sock, desperately trying to stab that stubborn contact lens into our eye, and hurriedly rushing to find that pristine white shirt we bought for graduation day. Today is the day we got into the car, only to realise that we were caught in a MASSIVE JAM. The day of all days that the Grab driver took a wrong turn.

 

Today is the day we are all finally here. Fellow graduates, today is the day we have reached a milestone in our journeys of traversing the expanse of knowledge in special educational needs. Perhaps the process was as challenging or frustrating as getting here this morning, but here we are, donning our graduation gowns. Our efforts are rewarded by the impact we can make in society, and of course, the delicious food that comes at the reception.

 

My own story began when my primary school teacher asked us the age old question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Obviously, I could not tell her my secret ambition of being a princess like Cinderella or Snow White. I reluctantly wrote ‘Teacher’. “How boring”, I thought. Little did I know, that many years later, I would be sitting in a course learning how to be ‘emotionally sound’ in my teaching and reciting the famous line, “Sound as you write”. Needless to say, we all have our individual reasons for enrolling in the courses from which we are graduating today. But there is a special trait that unites all of us who have chosen to walk down this similar path. We all share the desire to believe in every child’s potential, no matter how hidden it might seem. Like a gardener tending to a branch, we gently but firmly call out the potential of every student, encouraging them, declaring our belief in them, until slowly but surely, we see tiny leaves and buds covering the entire branch. We knew it was there all along. The courses we took gave us the tools needed to better uncover each child’s potential. For the Specialist Diploma in SpLD, we learnt to question theories and stay in tune with current research. We generated creative ways to help children who struggle with mathematical concepts and explored ideas to help students with various components of literacy. We came to learn about expressive and receptive language, whilst planning SMART goals for our pupils. Of course, we cannot forget the rigorous training of using the ELA approach to build the foundations of phonics. Finally, there was a field practicum. 10 lessons in 10 weeks, of pulling the threads together from the various modules learnt, to put theory into practice. All the modules from our distinctive courses gave us important tools that allow us to work on those branches, slowly but surely coaxing out the potential of each child. Of course, this is hard work and tiring at times. That’s why others come alongside to journey with us. There are our parents, who were there from the very start. For me, my parents are my prayer support and cheerleaders. In fact, they were the first ones to call out MY potential and believe in all that was within me. Thank you, mum and dad. Then we have spouses, siblings, and friends, those who have listened to both our joys and concerns over various students and have laughed at the hilarious happenings in class that ought to be compiled into a joke book.

 

Let’s also not forget our lecturers and supervisors who have guided us- those who have assured us that we would do just fine on our card drills. It is their commitment in our learning that has allowed us to make that difference in the lives of others. A big thank you to all of them, including the administrative staff at Student Services! Apart from these groups of people, my faith in God was the one that ultimately fuelled me with the love needed to believe in children with special needs. It was because He first loved me unconditionally, that I was able to learn to give to such children, especially on grumpy days and I-don’t-want-to-learn days that students inevitably have. Armed with tools, and supported by love and guidance from others, we have reached a pivotal point in our journey today, of looking back with gratefulness and looking forward with eager expectation of the children waiting for us to walk their journey with them.

 

Today is the day. The day that we will soon be going through those doors, back to our own lives and our different spheres of influence. But just for today, let us choose to remember why we all walked through these same doors into the auditorium. Whether we are lecturers, spouses, friends, siblings, parents or graduates ourselves, we have either come to share this journey with the graduates or have ourselves started to walk down this path of uncovering the hidden potential of every child. Today is the day. Thank you.

 

- Ms. Sarah Wong

Valedictorian, Graduating Class of 2018

Specialist Diploma in Specific Learning Differences

DAS Academy

Singapore