Having majored in economics and held a job in the finance industry for nine years, Bunny took the leap of faith to join the early childhood sector, where he rediscovered passion and meaning in his new job. Bunny shares with us what he believes in as a centre principal and how the Professional Development Programme (Leaders) fulfils his appetite for learning.
Some may realise their calling from the start, while many seek and grow to discover their passion when the time is ripe, and it’s the case of the latter for Mr Bunny Lo, Centre Principal of PCF Sparkletots Preschool. He is also one of the inaugural batch of 180 Professional Development Programme (Leaders) or PDP(L) participants appointed in April 2018.
With a Master of Arts in Applied Economics from University of Michigan and seven years’ experience as a finance manager, the turning point came when Bunny realised his work was no longer giving him fulfilment. Amidst teaching young children at Sunday school in church and interacting with nieces and nephews, his interest in nurturing young children grew stronger. The spark of fulfilment was reignited when the young ones reciprocated and caught on to his teaching and caring.
In pursuit of this new found passion, Bunny took up a part-time Specialist Diploma in Early Childhood Education with Ngee Ann Polytechnic in 2000. Despite the challenge of juggling part-time studies with his full-time job, he was unfazed by having to study and learn new things again. During his practicum attachment, the constant learning and self-discovery rejuvenated him. What made him especially happy was his knack of gaining attention from the children. Some children felt naturally drawn to him as he stood out amongst the other female teachers, and this allowed Bunny to forge deeper connections with them as a male role model.
Upon completion of his early childhood studies, Bunny resolutely left his finance job of nine years to set up and teach at his own preschool. This decision was not well received by his parents then, who felt that he gave up a well-paying job for one with low recognition, status and even income. However, his siblings and close friends were very supportive of his venture into the Early Childhood sector. And Bunny has not looked back since. “Joy and meaning in work came later in life, but I’m glad I found it!” he said.
Over the next 10 years as a teacher and founder of a preschool, he incorporated his belief about play-based learning into the preschool’s curriculum. Even after selling off his centre, Bunny returned to the sector soon after, despite his initial intention of taking a hiatus. “Being away from the children made me miss interacting with them. Thinking about how much more I could still learn and contribute to the sector, I couldn’t stay away” Bunny explained. In 2012, he joined PCF Sparkletots Preschool as he resonated with their vision of quality learning and meaningful play-based curriculum approach.
As a centre principal, Bunny believes in being a hands-on leader who is able to role model for his teachers. Prior to being on PDP(L), he had attended several Leadership Series courses by ECDA on his own accord. He also infuses his continuous learning spirit into the centre culture by empowering his teachers to actively experiment with, reflect and improve on current practices. Attracted by the myriad of learning opportunities he could receive from PDP(L) beyond the centre and even organisation, Bunny jumped at the opportunity to join the programme when his Executive Principal, Mdm Elizabeth Bothaju recommended it to him. He also plans to nominate his teachers for the Professional Development Programme (Teachers) or PDP(T) for their own professional development.
Since embarking on PDP(L), Bunny shared that “it has been a good start in my leadership journey, as I have since met and networked with so many leaders. There is no fixed formula to teaching, curriculum and leadership, and this has opened up my mind to the many possibilities that can be achieved through sharing. It is a never-ending process of discovery!” He has also received insightful perspectives from professional trainers during the two compulsory modules he attended so far. In particular, ‘The Power of Feedback’ module has brought greater awareness to his own leadership style as it provided him the rare chance to perform a 360 self-assessment.
Being part of the inaugural batch of PDP(L), Bunny has had interested centre leaders approach him for advice on the programme. To which, he has reassured them that assignments are thus far manageable, and there is much flexibility to complete the hours at one’s own pace. There’s also the perk of going on an overseas study trip, which he anticipates will be a highly rewarding experience not only for himself, but also for his centre when he returns with fresh insights to share. He urges more leaders like him to join the PDP(L) to gain practical leadership skills and learn from each other!
Interested to find out more about the Professional Development Programme for Leaders? Visit our PDP(L) website here for more details on how you can embark on the programme to pursue leadership development!
Be inspired by the stories of other PDP participants here!