You know your art teacher is cool when her paintings are made into music album covers and her artworks are regularly featured in international showcases from Miami to New York! This is who the students of Sir Manasseh Meyer (SMM) International School have as their inspiration – Miss Sara AK, a Singaporean who teaches both Art and Physical Education (PE) at the school and has played a role in developing both curriculums.
Miss Sara teaches all grades at SMM, a non-profit international Jewish day school for children aged 18 months to Grade 8 that welcomes students of all nationalities and is ‘small by design’. We head to the new state-of-the-art campus in Sembawang (complete with art studio, sports complex, two outdoor playgrounds, an indoor gymnasium and way more) to find out what innovative teaching methods she uses to engage students and why she finds teaching so rewarding.
Tell us about your path to teaching.
I’ve known that I wanted to become a teacher ever since I was a young child, and I’m extremely passionate about it. It’s rewarding to put smiles on the faces of children and empower them with the skills needed to succeed through fun and enjoyable learning methods.
After I finished high school in Singapore, I pursued a professional qualification for Specialised Teaching in Early Childhood Development for PE and Art in New York and Singapore. I began teaching in 2012 and I’ve gained working experience both locally and overseas (including a stint in New York and London), allowing me to gain valuable experience teaching children at different stages and from different cultures and nationalities.
What made you choose to teach at Sir Manasseh Meyer?
A former staff member at SMM put my name forward as the school was looking for a PE teacher for students. Once I started and my colleagues caught wind of my art achievements, they proposed that I introduce the art curriculum into the middle school. I was thrilled to accept the additional responsibilities as SMM has allowed me grow with the children and become the teacher that I’ve always wanted to be. I’m proud to call them my students.
Which art achievements are you most proud of?
In November 2005, I was able to fulfil my dream of showcasing my abstract paintings in a solo showing. Then, in July 2013, two of my paintings were chosen as music album covers for a private music composer in Malaysia. There have been many highlights before and after, including showings at New York’s Digital Arthouse and Miami Art Basel.
How do you continually develop your teaching skills?
I research innovative methods on teaching forums and platforms both here and abroad in order to further expand my knowledge and skills. A certification in Sports and Sports Science is also on my list of short-term goals to further expand my pedagogy in the PE field.
What innovative teaching methods do you use to engage students?
One of my favourite things about teaching Art is having the opportunity to challenge the children to produce advanced material beyond their age-level. My Grade 1 and 2 students have even been known to design and create their own stage décor for their class play!
During lessons, we focus on learning new techniques such as Judaic Art, using different mediums and exploring varying colours and designs. This integration of methods from different cultures echoes SMM’s interdisciplinary curriculum, which includes social studies.
The PE curriculum is structured in such a way that every student will participate in lessons, learn the basics and assume various positions and roles that allow them to have a more holistic understanding of that particular sport – while having fun, of course! Whether it’s with hurdle jumps, baseball or basketball training, we aim to maximise each child’s potential and development to build both resilience and strength, as well as make them better problem-solvers and team players.
What are your hobbies?
Painting, experiencing different food cultures in Singapore and abroad, finding new mediums of art, researching the various trends in the art industry and combining old art traditions with new-age trends – and obsessing over my two cats, Saber and Big!
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