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Lo(h)ve Goes a Long Way

by Eden Koh (Secondary 3B), Kylee Tan (Secondary 3E) and Ang Jan Tsi (Secondary 3F)

“We are blessed to be a blessing in Fairfield,” says Mr Larry Loh, a School Counsellor currently working in Fairfield Methodist School (Secondary). Prior to becoming a School Counsellor in FMS(S), Mr Loh actually worked in Fairfield as an Allied Educator (Teaching and Learning) for a few years. However, Mr Loh’s story in Fairfield dates even further back. Mr Loh studied in Fairfield too!

It was the year 1998. The last all-male Secondary 4 class sat in the middle of their classroom, holding out a white T-shirt with a vertical yellow stripe tracing from the left shoulder to the hem. Bags and books were strewn messily on the tables around them, but the students were not bothered by it. Instead they smiled at the camera. It was a bittersweet time as they were graduating in one year’s time. 

Mr Loh recalled fondly the five years he spent in FMS(S). Although each teacher showed their love differently, students like Mr Loh knew that they were cared for. For example, Mr Loh recounted how his form teacher, Mr Charles Chan, never gave up on his classmate even after the student was suspended from school. Ms Thio Lay Hong, an Additional Mathematics teacher, often went above the call of duty by staying back in school almost every day to help her students with their homework. In fact, Ms Thio still does so after all these years! There were other teachers who supported and shaped his beliefs and character too, like Mr Lim Sin Heng and Mr Vincent Chia.

After graduation, Mr Loh encountered setbacks, including a polytechnic journey that ended in Year 2. However, he continued to soldier on after recalling his lessons in Fairfield. Though Mr Loh’s first job as an Account Executive in an advertising agency offered him good career prospects, he wanted the opportunity to care for students the same way his teachers had cared for him. With the support of those around him and with a renewed sense of purpose, Mr Loh decided to change his career and started as an Allied Educator. 

This journey began at none other than his alma mater. 

“Despite my setbacks, I am grateful that I can fulfil my purpose in life, more so in Fairfield!”

As an Allied Educator (Teaching and Learning) then, he would support students who required more attention in the classroom. During this journey, Mr Loh was grateful to Mrs Choe, who gave him much advice and many opportunities to sharpen his pedagogical skills and knowledge. 

After a few years in FMS(S), Mr Loh became a School Counsellor, and was posted to another school. His interactions with students who needed support in Fairfield prepared him well for his experiences in the other school. However, his ability to identify with Fairfield’s core values and familiarity with Fairfield’s culture saw him return to serve in Fairfield. “It was like a homecoming! This is a place where I can bring what I had newly learnt to better serve the Fairfield family once again.”

The culture of love and empathy Mr Loh experienced in Fairfield has continued to stay in his heart, and is apparent in the way he cares for students in FMS(S) today. As a School Counsellor, Mr Loh strongly believes in the importance of connecting with students to better understand them as unique individuals. Sincerity, empathy and having an open mind are qualities one needs in his field of work. 

In light of the River Valley (RV) incident, the role of school counsellors is ever more significant in supporting students in the school.  

“The RV incident spotlighted the mental health of students, and the importance of the role that School Counsellors play to strengthen students’ mental well-being.” 

In his time as a School Counsellor so far, Mr Loh explains how some students, even after constant intervention, still fall back to their undesirable behaviour. He understands how difficult it may be for some to find the courage to reach out to others for help. Thus, he encourages students to look out for one another and make sure no one is left behind. And for Fairsians who are ready to seek help, Mr Loh’s door will always be open! 

For his significant contributions, Mr Loh received the 2021 National Day Award Efficiency Medal. Our Principal, Ms Audrey Chen, congratulated Mr Loh, “I'm really happy that Larry was awarded the Efficiency Medal — nominated by his previous school. We are so blessed to have him back with us as he has already contributed in so many ways since he came back.”

In his many years in Fairfield, Mr Loh has learnt many things, and hopes to pass his knowledge down to the next generation of Fairsians. Until then, he leaves us with a few words of wisdom:

“May we as a Fairfield Family continue to build on the legacy that our past teachers and students left behind. Let us be inclusive as a society, proactive in supporting and speaking up for our vulnerable friends, and stay grounded always.”

We are indeed blessed to be a blessing wherever we are planted.