Yusliza's Journey: From Aspiring Educator to Inspirational Leader
As a fresh-faced Yusliza Binte Yusof navigated the crowd at the Ngee Ann Polytechnic open house, she came across the booth for the Diploma of Early Childhood (EC). As she listened intently to the student representative share about the course, she knew she wanted to become an EC educator when she felt that stirring in her heart.
Yusliza Binte Yusof
Senior Principal at Children’s Cove Preschool Pte. Ltd
With her fascination in children’s creativity and innocence, coupled with her interest in teaching, Yusliza’s decision to be an EC educator was an easy and natural one. She was also influenced by her mother, who had always held EC education in high regard and had aspired too to be an EC educator when she was younger. Yusliza had reaped the rewards of her teachers' invaluable guidance throughout her life. “Growing up, I have encountered numerous teachers whose influence left a lasting imprint on my life. I aspire to pay that forward to the next generation of children and make a positive difference in their lives.”
Yusliza dedicated herself towards fulfilling her dream. After attaining her Diploma in Early Childhood Education and Leadership, she began her journey as a preschool educator in 2010. She went on to earn her Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education but she did not stop there. While teaching, she was constantly improving her knowledge and skills through on-the-job learning, Competency Professional Development (CPD) courses, and even managed to complete her Masters in EC education.
Enriching Young Lives and Empowering Educators
Today, Yusliza is a Senior Principal at Children’s Cove Preschool Pte. Ltd and oversees over 50 educators. Even after 13 years into her career, her passion for educating children remained unwavering, Yusliza chose to remain a ground practitioner as she genuinely enjoyed interacting with children and guiding educators in their practice.
Yusliza interacting with children at her centre
A firm believer of using art to express emotions and imagination, Yusliza encourages her educators to innovatively incorporate art to enrich the children’s learning experience. For example, her educators had organised freeform art sessions to allow children to externalise their feelings without restraints. The artworks were sold to parents and proceeds were donated to the nearby nursing home. These art activities not only promoted the children’s overall creativity, emotional awareness, and social skills, it especially benefitted children who found it challenging to express their emotions verbally.
In a similar vein, Yusliza was equally dedicated to the growth and development of her educators. She initiated a job rotation system to provide her educators opportunities to experience different job roles within the centre. Every term, Yusliza and her senior educators would select educators to assume the role of ‘mini leaders’ for each preschool level. “Depending on their individual strengths and expertise, ‘mini leaders’ would shoulder responsibilities such as assisting other educators in curriculum planning or operational tasks”, Yusliza explained. “This encourages them to reflect on their capabilities and preferences, which empowers them to seek out opportunities and grow professionally.”
Yusliza (third from left) with her team of educators
The Pursuit of Excellence
The path of a Centre Leader was not without its challenges. Yusliza shared candidly that one of the biggest difficulties she faced was dealing with changes such as during the pandemic and heightened parental expectations. Far from being disheartened, Yusliza became more determined to face these challenges head-on. As an advocate of continuous self-improvement, Yusliza actively sought out opportunities to enhance her skills and knowledge to tackle these challenges.
Apart from the EC courses, webinars and conferences she attended, she was also on the Professional Development Programme (PDP) for Centre Leaders and Lead Educators in 2020. It was during the PDP module - Trends and Issues in ECCE, where the job rotation idea was seeded in her. Through her exchanges with fellow leaders, she gained new perspectives on parent engagement. “Managing parents is an inevitable part of an educator’s job. Their concerns could be related to the curriculum or stemmed from their high expectations of educators, but I wanted to better empower my team for such situations”, Yusliza shared. She worked with her senior teachers to pilot the job rotation idea and together, the team would practise ways to reassure parents calmly and confidently.
Through meetings and training sessions, Yusliza would impart new knowledge gained to her educators to improve centre practices. Her Managing Director, Mr Ng Wee Lee affirmed her leadership, “Yusliza’s commitment to professional growth has equipped her with different types and aspects of leadership techniques that helped her to guide and nurture her educators.” It was on this level of dedication and contribution that led to Yusliza winning the Outstanding Early Childhood Leader at the ECDA Awards 2022.
Yusliza (middle) with Managing Director, Mr Ng Wee Lee (left)
From a student who wholeheartedly pursued her dream of becoming an EC educator to the exceptional leader she is today, Yusliza’s growth over the years has been nothing short of remarkable. As Mr Lee aptly puts it, Yusliza has become “a beacon of inspiration and a source of wisdom for the Children’s Cove Preschool community.”
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