We are home to 1700 students from 40 nationalities. We are inclusive and celebrate our diversity by welcoming students of all faiths.
“Act in such a way through your zeal that you give tangible proof
that you love those whom God has entrusted to you.”
(St John Baptist de La Salle, Ninth Meditation for the Time of Retreat)
“May God continue what he has begun in you.”
(From a letter of St John Baptist de La Salle, written in 1709 to Brother Robert)
This evening the SJI International community will pay tribute to a yogini, a collector of model air planes, a Javan chef, one of the most handsome members of our staff, a fan of Korean video dramas, and even your Auntie.
Tonight we celebrate the first of our 10th anniversary events with the School Founders Celebration. In addition to honouring the members of the Leadership Council who established our school, we will also recognise six long-serving members of the staff who have been with the school since Day #1. That was 8 January 2007. They are: Glenis Chng, High School Curriculum Manager; Chia Puay Leng, Head of Chinese in the Elementary School; Mr Sam Lim, Facilities Manager; Sherry Ng, Finance Manager; Susi Teo, HS Vice Principal (Student Support); and Matt Zagrodnik, HS Outdoor Education Specialist and CAS Coordinator.
SJI International has been blessed from the very beginning with an outstanding staff of men and women who are wholeheartedly dedicated to our students and to the mission of the school. These six individuals might be considered the pillars of the school, since both figuratively and literally, they help to hold St Joseph’s together.
Auntie Glenis, as she is affectionately known to students, staff, and parents, is the person we all go to when we need to know how or why something is done at the High School. From the beginning Glenis knew each student by name, and she remains connected to many of our alumni and their families. Puay Leng joined SJI International in 2007 as Head of Asian Languages, before moving to the Elementary School, where she has since built a dedicated team of teachers of Chinese, one of the hallmarks of our ES. Sam Lim is the person we all go to when we need to get something done at school. He is adept at making sure our campus facilities are not only beautiful but also in good shape and running smoothly. His diplomatic skills are tested daily as he works to meet the many requests and the occasional demands of administrators, staff, and parents. When I want to know the pulse of the school, I ask him, “Is everyone happy today?”
Sherry Ng has managed school finances as SJI International grew from the proverbial mustard seed to the multi-million dollar operation it is today. She reminds all of us of our responsibility to be good stewards of the resources provided for us. Susi Teo is perhaps one of the best known and revered members of the school community. When she joined SJI International she brought with her a wealth of experience as an educator, a school leader, and a keen organiser of cultural events. When I ask Grade 12 students which member of the staff they will look for first when they come back to visit the school, many of them immediately respond, “Mrs Teo!” Matt Zagrodnik, known to everyone as “Mr Z,” has accompanied SJI International students over the rivers, through the woods, and everywhere in between, through the trips and expeditions that have become a bedrock of the SJI International experience. He successfully uses outdoor education to help many of our students find their niche within our school.
The work of St Joseph’s Institution International is indeed God’s work, and we are grateful to the men and women of our staff who daily carry out this noble work that God began in us ten years ago. I started this reflection with a quote from a letter that St John Baptist de La Salle (1651-1719) wrote to one of his first teachers. In another letter, also written in 1709, he says, “Take care that your school runs well.” SJI International “runs well” in large part thanks to the good work of people like the six long-serving staff members I have written about here.
By the way, Chia Puay Leng practices yoga, Sam Lim collects model airplanes (and tanks), and Sherry Ng can recommend to you a good Korean video. Ask Susi Teo to share with you her recipe for the wonderful Indonesian soup she recently demonstrated for the staff. Mr Z was not only voted the “most handsome” member of staff in a student poll a few years ago, he was also voted the “most gentlemanly!” If you’re an alumnus of SJI International you’ve probably already dropped by the office to catch up with your Auntie Glenis.
Please join me in offering them our thanks and congratulations!