The Swiss School in Singapore is delighted to welcome Ms Rahel Eckert-Stauber as its new principal. We had the pleasure of getting to know our new leader in this short, informal interview.
It is an honour for us to have you at our school. Could you please briefly introduce yourself?
With pleasure! I am originally from Chur, in the Swiss Alps, but I lived for many years in Solothurn, in the Swiss Midlands.
Before moving to Singapore, I was working as a lecturer at the Swiss Federal University for Vocational Education and Training, where I trained teachers in the subject of « Language and Communication ». Prior to that, I was the vice principal of a large vocational school in Solothurn for a long time. I led around 30 teachers and participated in various cantonal and national committees. I taught German, French, general education and sports for many years in various classes at lower secondary level and at vocational schools. In addition to my work as a teacher, lecturer and principal, I have also written several teaching materials for German lessons over the past 15 years. Another publication on German didactics will be published this summer. Besides education in all its facets, writing is my second passion. Between 1996 and 2003, I worked as a journalist and editor for various Swiss media companies.
What was your initial reaction when you secured this position in Singapore?
My initial reaction was simply overwhelming joy, coupled with excitement! My family and I have always been fascinated by Singapore. We have been there several times, mostly on a stopover and have each time been impressed by the city, especially its multiculturalism. I have always been interested in Swiss schools around the world. I am a curious person and like to take on new challenges. I see the new position as a great challenge that not only affects me, but my entire family. My husband and my younger daughter will accompany me to Singapore. The older one is currently studying at the University of Geneva and will of course come to visit us. The younger one will join the IB class at the United World College (UWCSEA).
When you are not working, how do you spend your free time?
I am very adventurous and love to travel and discover new cultures. Therefore, I will definitely explore Singapore extensively. Apart from that, I like to participate in sports, like jogging. However, I don’t know yet whether I will jog in Singapore because of the heat. But I definitely won’t get bored (laughs).
As you know, Singapore is famous for its diverse food culture. Do you have a particular favourite Asian dish? Or is there a dish that you would like to try soon?
I really like Asian food, but unfortunately, I cannot name a favourite dish yet. That’s why I’m looking forward to discovering new dishes. At home, we also try to recreate many different dishes from all over the world. But, of course, they are a bit Swiss influenced. Therefore, I am very excited to immerse myself in Singapore´s authentic regional and local cuisine.
What do you particularly like about being an educator?
The diversity. In a school environment, you deal with so many different people: children, teachers, parents, and staff. As a teacher and education leader, you have the opportunity to make a real difference. It is crucial what, and more importantly how we teach. This can be decisive in determining whether children can develop properly and develop a good attitude towards learning. We accompany them on the first part of their lifelong learning journey. To constructively shape this stage of their journey is, in my view, the most wonderful task imaginable.
As an educator, do you follow a particular philosophy?
I believe in the concept of holistic education. In childhood, countless cognitive, social and emotional learning processes take place in parallel, side by side, and simultaneously. This requires a stimulating environment. It needs appreciation, recognition, the opportunity for social contacts and above all an atmosphere of trust so that children can grow up and learn well. Educational opportunities are always life opportunities. We should be aware of this. Based on this, I would like to shape school. A good mix of a learning atmosphere that is conducive to learning, sufficient motivation and pedagogical know-how enables high-quality teaching in which all children are supported as well as possible. The same applies to us adults: we too can work best when we are motivated, when our working environment is right, and when we know why we do what we do. School and work life are not that different.
What are you looking forward to the most in your role as the new principal of SSiS?
I love working with people. Therefore, I am greatly looking forward to working with all those involved in the school. Being the first woman to lead SSiS into the future, together with the whole team, is an honour for me. I am also looking forward to sharing my ideas of what constitutes a good school and good teaching, which I have touched on just briefly. I am very fortunate to come to an already very good school with high quality standards, and I am incredibly excited about the multiculturalism in the school itself, especially in view of the languages that are lived, learned and spoken here. My main objective is to use and strengthen this resource of diversity optimally so that the school as a whole continues to thrive and the children can learn and develop in an environment conducive to learning.
We thank Ms Rahel Eckert-Stauber for taking the time to chat, and look forward to introducing her to the delights of Asia. Please join us in making her feel welcome at the Swiss School in Singapore!