Barbara D'Cotta, Singapore Association for the Deaf
Vice Principal, Singapore School for the Deaf
As Vice Principal at the Singapore School for the Deaf, Barbara D’Cotta already has her hands full overseeing the ins-and-outs of running a school. Yet, she makes it a point to teach one class every year, in addition to her duties as Vice Principal. This has helped to sustain her love for teaching.
Afterall , it was her deep-seated passion for teaching which led her to join the school while awaiting the release of her “A” Level results, even though she had not yet learnt sign language at that point. This began her decades long dedication to the school.
“The reason why I’ve chosen to continue teaching is so that I am able to be in touch the needs of my students and teachers. In this way, I maintain the necessary practical experience to be able to make the necessary changes, which also makes my job as a Vice Principal much easier.”
In spite of her busy schedule, Barbara still takes time out to volunteer, interpreting for the Singapore Catholic Deaf Community, and anyone in need. She is also a pillar of support for ex-students requiring assistance with any medical, CPF or HDB administrative issues..
To the mother of two, volunteering is about giving yourself the opportunity to be of help to others, and to be there when they need you. Sharing one’s talents, skills and time with those less privileged creates meaning and value for Barbara.
|"My best strength is my belief. I believe that every child has something to give. If a child is weak academically, we identify what else the child is good at. We don’t give up on the child and find other ways to help the child achieve and accomplish great things."|
Barbara recently graduated with a Bachelor in Education (Special Education) from Flinders University. As the oldest student in her cohort, she hoped that she brought with her the passion and energy that a teacher for special needs children should possess.
Aside from reading and researching changes in the field of Deaf Education, sharing sessions with her coursemates provided Barbara with insight to other areas of special needs, helping her develop an all-rounded perspective on the social service sector. “Continuous learning goes beyond increasing knowledge. It reveals new insights as we become more aware and open to new ideas.”
Barbara believes that it is not just learning that makes a leader an effective one, but also their attitude. “Leaders need to have the attitude to be able to learn and relearn where necessary. If we keep on doing what we do, thinking that we know it all, we fall into complacency. That can be dangerous and alienate those around us, especially if we’re in a leadership position,” she emphasises.
Barbara hopes to set the right example for her children, on what lifelong learning is about. She is looking forward to undertaking her Master’s in Education (Special Education) with NIE, and hopes to mentor young teachers at the same time. For Barbara, serving in the social service sector thoroughly enhances her best qualities. Her greatest strength is her belief in every child. This will hold her in good stead as she continues walking the ground with, and for them.