IT was with a heavy heart that Datin Zaleha Abu Hasan said goodbye to her beloved school, staff and students as she boarded the car to be whisked away to her new life as a retiree.
The former principal of SMK Seafield, Subang Jaya, had contributed a lot to the school thanks to her dedication and tireless efforts to bring the school to new heights.
“None of these accomplishments would be possible without my team of dedicated teachers, staff, students and their parents,” she said.
The school improved tremendously under her leadership as she transformed it into a cluster school, instilled a love for all things creative in her students and strived to make the school known on the international circuit.
She also played a big part in getting the students involved in competitions such as cheerleading, choir and choral speaking.
Back in 2012, Zaleha had brought the school’s choir to perform at the Musik-und Singschule of Heidelberg and Gymnasium (Germany’s version of a grammar school) in Neckargemund, Germany.
At the retirement ceremony, the students and teachers played out a skit depicting Zaleha’s life from birth to her career as an educator.
The scenes of her courtship with her husband Prof Datuk Dr Hashim Awang during their years in Universiti Malaya kept the audience in stitches.
The Kuala Kangsar native said she never saw herself becoming a teacher.
In fact, she aspired to be a businesswoman but her late father would not hear of it.
“He always wanted one of his children to become a teacher. I do not know what he saw in me that made him think I should be one.
“In fact, when I completed Form Six, he filled out my application form for the teacher education institute,” she said.
She first came to SMK Seafield as a principal in 2003 but left in 2006 to become an education officer with the Petaling District Education Office.
After two stints as principal of SMK Shahbandaraya, Klang and SMK USJ 4, Subang Jaya, she returned to once again lead SMK Seafield to excellence.
Head prefect Imran Haziq Mohd Kamil said Zaleha is a caring person. He was in awe of her dedication to her students and the school.
“She came up with the school motto ‘School of future leaders’ and changed our class names to the names of well-known scientists and mathematicians,” he said.
He also shared a tale of how she came to Bentong, Pahang to speak to the prefects on the last day of their camp. She complimented them on how much they had grown as individuals and leaders.
“I was very touched that Datin could come and see the outcome of the camp. She even told me personally that she was proud of the prefects,” he said.
Zaleha advised her fellow teachers, or as she preferred to call them, her “brothers and sisters”, to continuously read and increase their knowledge.
“If you have the time, go on YouTube and watch the motivational talks. They’re very inspiring,” she said.REBECCA RAJAENDRAM The STAR Home News Education 06/04/2014