Jessica Wee is the Principal of Rainbow Centre Yishun Park School in Singapore. She has previously served in the school as Vice Principal before taking over principalship six years ago.
Rainbow Centre School serves 400 students with autism and multiple disabilities.The school aims to nurture young persons with disabilities (aged 7-18) into adults who are able to live independently and interdependently, to grow continuously, and to engage in active participation and contribution to the community.
Her goal is to serve the underprivileged, but she realizing she is on the receiving end of much grace through this leadership journey. A firm believer that ‘everything rises and falls on leadership’, she continues a humble journey of self discovery as a leader.
WDP: Welcome to the Principal Matters podcast! Can you fill in the gaps on that intro and tell us something listeners may be surprised to know about you?
Jessica Wee: I did not start off to be an educator, in fact, my first career was in marketing and product development. I did a mid-career switch to education to spend more time with my family as my previous job involved a great deal of travelling and time away from home. Since then, there is no regrets entering education. I am grateful for my experience in the commercial sector and I have incorporated some of the best practises into the management of the school.
WDP: Can you tell us more about your school? What do you find are the challenges and opportunities of leading in your school?
Jessica Wee: Rainbow Centre schools offer an education that goes beyond the disabilities of the students we serve. The outcomes-based functional curriculum is facilitated by a teaching team and supported by an interdisciplinary team of therapists, psychologists, and social workers to enable students to access their educational goals.
Each student gets an Individualised Education Plan – a customised learning roadmap. Integrating co-curricular activities, therapy services, the use of technology and character and citizenship education, our students experience a well-rounded education experience.
In leading a school of 400 with students from junior years to young adults, it does present safety challenges. Family collaboration can also present its challenges as much effort is still needed to understand individual family dynamics to ensure success in this area.
There are many possibilities as I believe in maximizing potential of a child. I see providing accessible learning and participation as of utmost importance for the students. With technological support, creativity and the courage to challenge the status quo, we can certainly develop innovative and personalized communicative and mobility solutions to break down barriers for the special needs students.
WDP: How has leading through a pandemic affected your own school community?
Jessica Wee: The first case of COVID was confirmed on 23 January 2020. Early cases were primarily imported until local transmission began to develop in February and March. Thanks to the Singapore government’s swift action with formation of COVID taskforce, the Ministry of Education worked closely with the Ministry of Health and supported the school community with various safe management measures. The government announced school closure for about a month in April to curb the spread ...
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