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A grand send-off

After more than 30 years as a caring and dynamic educator, principal Loh Guay Hiong bade farewell to her students and colleagues.

LET them quarrel.” This is what retiring principal Loh Guay Hiong of SMK Taman Bukit Maluri, Kepong, Kuala Lumpur, would suggest to parents if their children are arguing.

“When children quarrel, they learn to make up. The younger they are, the easier it is for them to reconcile.

“This is how they learn to accept differences, resolve conflicts and communicate effectively,” she said.

With over 30 years of experience and having worked in eight schools, Loh has considerable wisdom to impart.

“It’s not only about chasing excellence on paper. Character building is essential for students and is extensively developed through co-curriculum,” she said.

Portrayed as a motherly and approachable figure by colleagues and students alike, the school gave her a farewell celebration to remember.

The celebration at SMK Taman Bukit Maluri was filled with brilliant performances by the school’s talented students.

Loh’s family — her husband, two sons and a daughter — was also present at the celebration.

Tears, hugs and heartfelt exchanges were shared before the event culminated with Loh’s send-off in a horse-drawn carriage.

English teacher Chin Chiew Ping said Loh has brought many positive changes, not just academically but also in terms of the school’s physical landscape.

“The school improved so much that we managed to clinch many awards over the past few years,” said Chin.

She added that everything Loh did was for the good of the students.

“She has been very supportive of The Star’s Newspaper-in-Education (NiE) programme. She was introduced to the programme in her previous school and was familiar with its benefits,” said Chin.

Loh agreed, saying that they have been strongly supporting NiE because it is an excellent programme.

“The language teachers find the pullouts easy to use and the students enjoy the activities. It gives them the opportunity to get up and move around so it makes learning English fun and interesting. The students are enthusiastic about it and are very happy when they get their newspapers,” she said.

Recalling her memories in SMK Taman Bukit Maluri, Loh said that she is glad she could work together with the teachers as a team.

“They gave me their trust, goodwill and cooperation. For that, I am very grateful and happy,” she said.

Loh believes that educators should always see teaching as a mission because it is no ordinary job.

“They are the architects of the future generation. Apart from academic knowledge, teachers should also equip themselves morally so that they are able to impart good values to their students,” she said.

The school’s Language Department head Komathi Jayakumar, who has been colleagues with Loh for two and a half years, said it was a pleasure working with Loh.

“What I admire is the genuine care and concern she has for the welfare of the students. She does not focus solely on academic excellence but also encourages extra-curricular activities, especially cultural ones. She believes in a wholesome education,” said Komathi.

Judging from the cheers and applause after her final speech as principal of SMK Taman Bukit Maluri, it was clear that Loh was well loved by the students.

Form Five student Shamshul Hamizan Abdul Waris recounted the first time he met Loh.

“She’s unlike any other school principals I’ve seen. She’s very caring. On Wednesdays when we have to stay back for extra-curricular activities and have lunch in school, she will ask the canteen to prepare three different types of dishes — Malay, Indian and Chinese. I thought it was very thoughtful of her,” he said.

Shamshul Hamizan added that Loh would instil moral values through storytelling and that as students, they always felt welcomed.

“It’s never awkward when we speak to her,” he said.

Form Five student Cobein Kumara Kuru said: “I worked under her as a prefect and she attended many of our meetings. The way she talks motivates us to get things done.

“There are five words I can use to describe Puan Loh — hardworking, energetic, positive, caring and dynamic.”

Emily Chan The STAR Home News education Sunday April 6, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM

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