The featured alumni of the month selected this round is none other than Ms. Leonora Anne Peers, who is also affectionately known as Noni to her friends and Ms Peers and later Mrs. G to her students. Noni was one of the teachers that witnessed many of the changes in GIS, one of them being the change in the school’s name – from Garden School to Garden International School. Read on to find out more about her take on GIS and beyond.
Garden School played a significant role in my adult life. I was 25 when I joined the school, still single and I had all 4 of my children while I was in Garden. The most poignant memory I have about Garden School is of the time spent at the Cheras Campus, because of the camaraderie among the teachers in the Secondary section. There was only one staff room, which could seat just about 40 people. I remember running frantically round the staffroom collecting as many Mufti day tickets as I could so that we teachers could “buy” a student, Abu Bakar, at the Slave Auction. Abu was an accomplished musician. His slave duties for the week were to entertain the staff on the violin each break time and he did this amicably with a wide smile on his face.
Garden School gave me all that I needed to get to where I am today. I was employed as an English teacher when I first arrived from Singapore in 1985. I was also the Netball coach of the senior team for three years and arranged for the school team to travel to Singapore to play the top netball teams in the republic. I then established the Interact Club in the school, which actively raised funds each year for many worthy causes. Through the years, I was a Class Teacher, and when the school grew in size, I took on the responsibility of Head of Year 7. Much later, I was appointed International Coordinator for the whole school. I became a member of the Asia-Europe Classroom under the Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF) – an organization that promotes greater mutual understanding between Asia and Europe through intellectual, cultural and people-to-people exchanges. This membership allowed for our students to participate in many on-line projects involving students from schools in both Asia and Europe. Cultural Kaleidoscope, a project I orchestrated won the Best AEC Project for 3 consecutive years. The project, which took place during the school’s International Week, involved GIS students hosting guest students from invited schools, members of ASEF. It was a wonderful way for everyone to learn about different cultures first-hand. Students who volunteered as hosts then had the opportunity to go on a reciprocal 12-day home-stay exchange with one of the participating schools. Our students were warmly welcomed by schools in Finland, Germany, Sweden, France and Italy. It warms my heart to know that friendships that were formed during these exchange programmes are still going strong today! I left GIS in 2008 to take on the role as Principal, assisting the setting up of REAL International School, Shah Alam. Two years later, I moved to REAL International School, Cheras.
On the 17 September 2013, I suffered a stroke due to uncontrolled high blood pressure. I went through 2 surgeries, one to insert a shunt to remove excess fluid. I had very little recollection of my stint in hospital as I was heavily sedated. When I left 3 weeks’ later, I had double vision which affected my balance drastically. Physiotherapy sessions followed to help me build up my muscle and regain my balance. Almost 2 years has passed and my neurosurgeon is thrilled with my progress. My shunt was closed at the beginning of the year as the latest scan showed normalcy.
I consider myself very fortunate. I believe I’ve been given a 2nd chance to enjoy my life and to do things that I love. I can now play with my grandchildren (I have two!), have people over at my place for a cup of coffee, slowly go through my photographs and do some scrapbooking. I’ve also touched based with a lot of ex-students and they are grateful that I’ve kept in touch with them.
I also run my own little home-baking business and my daughter and I will be venturing into an online business selling pre-loved and new books from the UK and other baby products.
My goals and dreams now are to live a long life and to watch my grandchildren grow up to become successful and good people.
My say on life-long learning – You never stop learning. I am still learning new things every day. I not only love to share my experiences, but I also love to listen to what others have to share. It’s not about the books, but how to live your life as a meaningful human being. There are lots of things that I’ve learned along the way over a cup of coffee, especially so over the past 2 years.
Would you also like to share a cup of coffee with Ms. Peers? If yes, look her up on her Facebook page: Love Bites Delights