Friday, January 29 marked the retirement of the principal of SMJK Perempuan Perak, Lee Puay Eng. The affable yet unassuming lady was appointed principal of the school in 2009 and has been teaching for the past 32 years specialising in Physics.

Ipoh Echo had an exclusive one-on-one with the 58-year-old Ipoh-born Lee.

What does she like the most about teaching? “Seeing how the students initially crinkle their forehead in confusion and then the sparkle in their eyes during their light-bulb moment is very enjoyable,” Lee enthused.

A graduate of University of Malaya, she went into pedagogy by chance as the offer of an education diploma came to her. Lee was first posted to a science boarding school at Raub in 1984. In 1989, she taught at SMJK Pei Yuan, Kampar and subsequently at SMJK Poi Lam before joining the present school.

Following is her advice for all young educators out there: “Times are changing so you must adapt your teaching methods to suit the pupils nowadays who have the choices to attend tuition classes and surf the Internet. Do not let those choices override your role. Besides that, be involved with the students to earn their respect because they will then know that you really care.”

“Every moment spent in school is the proudest moment for me because I get to see the students putting in effort and trying their best,” she shared.

Over the course of her career, she observes that things are changing for the better. “In the past, everyone would quietly copy the notes given by the teachers in class. Now, we encourage interaction in the classroom. Sometimes it is good to have ‘constructive noise’ which is a sign that they are having fun learning,” she posited.

Under Lee’s leadership, the school ranking has been improved to band 3 and is one of the top 10 schools in North Kinta district in terms of academic performance in the SPM examination. She was honoured with the excellent service award in 1993 and 2010.

On her plans after retirement, she wishes to take it easy and clear her mind. “I am not having any plans, as I believe that God will plan for me,” Lee concluded.

Mei Kuan