generations (and counting) of
educators, Ms Fuziah Taha is
everything one hopes for in a teacher.
When Ms Taha was Principal of Fuhua Primary School, hardly a day passed without her feeling that she’d received the royal treatment. “Whenever I walked past a classroom and the children caught a glimpse of me, they’d give a little wave,” she recalls. “Primary school students are lovely. They’ll even tell you that they like the style or color of your dress.”
During her eight years at Fuhua, Ms Taha brought fun, joy and an abiding respect for nature into her interactions with students. Step into the school and you’ll be struck by how green it is. The vegetable garden has cherry tomatoes, papayas, and chye sim; the corridors are lined with hanging plants grown in recycled plastic bottles.
“What did I like about teaching? The children,” says Ms Taha, 63. “As educators, we don’t teach English, Math and Science – we teach students English, Math and Science. It’s the children who’re important, not the subjects.”
In her childhood, Ms Taha and her siblings spent weekends with their parents by the sea; they’d swim, build sandcastles and pick seashells. “When we lived in the teachers’ quarters of Ayer Gemuroh Malay School where my parents taught, our house was up on a cliff, and on its edge grew monkey cup plants,” she recalls. “That’s how we learnt about science from our father – amidst nature.”
Ms Taha’s late parents, Mr Muhamad Taha Bin Kasim and Mdm Marhamah Bte Haji Arshad, were educators who seized the countless teachable moments that life presented. Mr Muhamad Taha taught his children to make kites, weave rattan baskets and cast figurines from plaster of Paris; Mdm Marhamah taught them to paint and sew. “We never bought toys from the shops; we made our own,” recalls Ms Taha. “And nobody had to tell us to do our homework. We just knew what our duties were.”
At last count, there have been 17 teachers in Ms Taha’s extended family (including in-laws, nephews and nieces). “My parents and all my siblings were teachers,” she says.“I could hardly consider anything else!
”After graduating from the Teachers’ Training College and teaching in secondary schools for three-and-a-half years, Ms Taha became a research assistant and producer with ETV, a branch of the Ministry of Education (MOE). A seasoned television presenter, she was later a Senior Media Specialist with MOE.
But the call to teach drew her back to school. In 2007, Ms Taha was appointed Fuhua’s Principal, after a stint as the Vice Principal of Ahmad Ibrahim Primary School and Principal of North View Primary School. “At Fuhua, I called my students and teachers ‘GEMs’. It stands for ‘Go the Extra Mile’. Uncut precious stones are encrusted with grit. As teachers, we polish them into beautiful, shining gems.”
“Ms Taha continues to mould young lives. Now an Associate, Preschool Education, with MOE, she’s committed to giving children a strong start in life – just as her parents did for her. “As educators, we have to believe that all children want to do well,” says Ms Taha. “We must help them be the best that they can be.”