Last Friday, a friend and colleague, Lee Sing Kong, passed away from an apparent heart attack at the age of 65. See a story about his passing here.
He was both a horticulturist and an educator. I knew him as the latter in his role as the director of the National Institute for Education (NIE). He was a master educator. He not only helped build Singapore’s system into one of the best in the world, but he was incredibly generous in sharing everything he was learning to help other educators and policymakers from around the globe improve their practice.
As a part of that work, Professor Lee was a member of Rodel’s International Advisory Group. He contributed to Student Success 2025, the collaborative plan helmed by the Vision Coalition of Delaware. Years earlier, he visited Wilmington to meet with and engage with our local educators, and he helped host a visit in Singapore during which a delegation of Americans, including me, got the chance to learn from his work.
He was passionate about building the teaching profession, and he helped me look more holistically at child development. Being from a small island in the Pacific, he said, “We realized quickly that our greatest asset was our people.”
When I visited schools in Singapore, what I saw was a clear awareness of the global economy. Students learned from an early age how to engage with their peers from different cultures, and their work often revolved around a well-developed version of what we call “career pathways.” Many of the schools I visited were built around a real sense of “love,” something my American peers knew was important, but had rarely seen in a public school’s mission statement back home.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to Professor Lee’s family and friends, both in Singapore and around the world. As Joanne Weiss, the chair of our International Advisory Group shared, his was “a life well-lived.”