Member of the Month

Name:  Susan Shaw

Company and Position: Elementary School Deputy Principal, Singapore American School


What brought you to Singapore?

I left New Zealand’s shores 33 years ago for a 6 month stint overseas! I have worked in London, Istanbul, New York and Caracas before spending the past 24 years in Singapore.


Can you share a bit about your role?

As a Deputy Principal, I am part of a highly collaborative team of educators committed to ensuring a safe and positive learning environment where all students are known and cared for and have opportunities to learn and grow. I work with an amazing administrative team that is focused not only on recruiting and retaining the best faculty and staff members from around the world but also provides continual professional learning to provide exemplary learning experiences for kids. It is a real privilege to work with such a talented faculty and this is one of the reasons I have stayed at SAS for a long time.

Where in New Zealand do you call home? And what do you miss about it?

My parents were dairy farmers in Temuka, South Canterbury who then retired to Christchurch. Over the years, we’ve had many family holidays in Picton and so I consider both Picton and Christchurch to be my home. I do miss cooler weather from time to time as well as wide open spaces.


What inspired you to pursue a career in education, particularly in the context of international schools?

I am a people person and seriously there is nothing more rewarding than helping kids learn and grow. Add to that the opportunity to live and teach in different countries around the world, learn about different cultures and appreciate different perspectives and it amounts to an amazing experience that I feel very fortunate to have had.


What initiatives or projects are you currently working on that you're particularly excited about?

One of my key responsibilities is working with the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) team to ensure our elementary school students receive the best possible learning experiences which include robotics, coding and maker design and engineering. I find this work to be really inspiring because it is focused on teaching kids skills they will need for their future; these lessons are also very hands-on and highly engaging and I love seeing the excitement on kids' faces as they’re learning.


How do you see technology shaping the future of education, and how is the Singapore American School adapting to these changes?

More than half of the students in school today will work in jobs that do not even exist yet. The exponentially rapid rate of change of AI (Artificial Intelligence) has a substantial impact on learning and offers exciting opportunities for adult and child learners. In order to prepare our students for their future, at SAS we focus on teaching through learning aspirations which include creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, communication and cultural competence. The ability to communicate at high levels, think critically, work collaboratively designing creative solutions for problems in the world, and navigate intercultural settings advocating for others are skills that are essentially human, are supported by technology and are necessary for any future employment.


Singapore American School is currently undergoing significant renovations. What aspects of the new campus are you looking forward to?

While there are significant renovations happening throughout the entire school, I’m most excited about the state of the art, purpose built elementary school which will open early in 2025. In addition to being the largest elementary school in the region with more than 2,000 students; the new building will also have specialised STEAM spaces ensuring authentic, integrated student learning experiences taught by specialist STEAM teachers. While there are many other exciting new features, it’s important to mention that the new building will also provide 300% more play spaces for students compared with our current building and will include much needed covered play spaces for rainy days.


How do you unwind and recharge outside of work, especially considering the demands of your role as Deputy Principal?

Honestly, committing to a healthy work-life balance is a constant challenge however I love getting out for a walk and Sungei Buloh is one of my favourite places. On the weekend, I enjoy supporting my daughter’s contact rugby team as a team manager and cheerleader and I also recharge by hanging out with friends and family and our loveable English bulldog, Jerry.


What advice would you give to Kiwis who are thinking of moving to Singapore?

Do it - I’ve lived here for 24 years, I met my husband here and we’ve raised three children here. It is an amazing place to live, it’s really safe and easy to navigate. Singapore is also very central to many destinations in Asia and is a stop over for many other places in the world.


What has been your favourite Chamber event that you've attended, and why?

I appreciate the time, energy and effort the organisers of Chamber events commit to create relevant and interesting events -  thank you. Every event is well organised and a unique opportunity to meet others. The quiz nights are fun and as an educator, I appreciated the recent opportunity to mix and mingle with the NZ Minister of Education and Immigration, Erica Stanford.