She just wants to help her students overcome obstacles

Math can be a four-letter word for many students.


But it’s essential to the success of her wards at the School of Engineering. So manager Lily Soh decided to do something different.


She and her team of 13 created a programme to make math fun – using learning trips, real life product design and problem solving to see how mathematics is applied.


Over 4,000 students have gone through the new curriculum, and we’re glad to report that was so successful that it spurred both students and instructors to develop a renewed interest in the subject matter.


Lily won the PS21 Distinguished Star Service Award for this project.


We interviewed the bubbly lecturer, who is super passionate about her charges.


What is your teaching philosophy?

I adopt this mindset in school: if this is my child, how do I support him/her to achieve his/her fullest potential, beyond the academic requirements? I enjoy listening to my students, and getting to know them. Understanding them helps me to provide the most appropriate support they need to perform to their best ability.


In class, my first step would be to build rapport first. Once I understand the class dynamics, it is easier for me to teach them. I am also very open with them, and would often tell them in advance if a lesson is going to be difficult, and ask them if they can spare me 30 minutes to explain everything. When they are doing assignments in class, I would let them take turns to play their favourite music on their mobile phones so that I can understand their music better.


I strongly believe that for education to be effective we should not focus too narrowly on academic achievements. The moral and social growth of the students are equally important. I have always encouraged the students to step out of their comfort zone and take the lead in organising activities for the school and the poly. Through these activities, the students develop planning, organisation, leadership and communication skills. The students also learn to work in teams and resolve conflicts amongst themselves. All these activities strengthen their mental and physical resilience, building up their ability to overcome obstacles in their lives.


At the end of the day, when my students face challenges – whether personal or academic – overcome them, and become stronger and more confident, I become very proud of them. They are the source of my energy.


Recount one touching/memorable incident involving a student/students you taught

There was once when an alumnus came back to see me and wanted to take me out to lunch. She specially drove her dad’s car and booked a restaurant for us. I was touched that she went through such lengths to show her appreciation, even though she didn’t need to. When I see the students grow and become confident young adults, I feel very happy. And when they come forward to express their appreciation (and sometimes hug me), I know that I have made a difference in their lives :)


What is one thing most people do not know about you?

I like to take long walks outdoor. For me, walking brings tranquility to my intense and hectic life. I find that every time I take a walk, amazing things happen - I meet wonderful people who share the same interest; I meet people who need assistance and am able to help them out; I observe the environment and people around me and fill my head with new bits of information. When I walk, I let my imagination go wild and this sometimes helps me to come up with amazing ideas to tackle challenges in life :)