Meet Suzanne Bentin, Head of School, Overseas Family School, Singapore
Updated: Jul 1, 2021
Communications and connections...two very important things in any international school and especially a large international school like Overseas Family School in Singapore, where families come from as many as 70 different countries! Head of School, Suzanne Bentin, tells us more...
How long have you been with Overseas Family School?
Back in 1996, I joined the school as a teacher of French and English, then in 2019, after thirteen years as High School Principal, I was appointed Head of School. I am from New Zealand originally and before joining OFS, I taught at state schools in NZ, then went to France as a language assistant and then taught for three years at an international school in Seoul, South Korea.
Who or what inspired you to work in education?
I have a strong memory from about age 13 when I realised I would be a teacher. No-one in my family was, but my joy in learning and simply being at school made it seem a natural choice.
What do you see as the most important part of your role with the school?
Communication, connections, and more communication! This was never more evident than in the past year when keeping everyone informed during the pandemic and feeling that their children were in safe hands was absolutely critical. Without those overarching systems in place ensuring the trust of all our parents, the impact on students, parents and staff may have been severe.
What has been your favourite moment to-date in your years with OFS?
I recall, many years ago, a very public and telling moment when a new student realised that OFS students were accepting and supportive. Having been bullied at school in her own country because of a great talent for opera singing, this student had been school refusing. Having moved to Singapore and joined OFS, she was encouraged to take part in an ‘open mic’ lunchtime performance. She was extremely scared and nervous of the reaction if she sang a song from a famous opera. The students adored it and she never looked back. It was an emotional moment, summing up all that our students can achieve when we all look after each other.
What do you think makes OFS special?
When OFS was founded in 1991, it established a very simple master policy, focussing on a ‘happy, safe and effective school’.
Back then, no-one was talking too much about being happy at school and it may even have appeared somewhat odd. Now, happiness and wellbeing are top of the agenda for many individuals and institutions.
I think this key founding belief that students must first feel happy and safe at school then, with that as a foundation, they can be academically successful, is both very genuine and very special. We have never diverged from this belief and we never override parents’ academic decisions for their children. They are free to choose their courses, including full IB Diploma, with no restrictions.
What is your personal motto in life?
Do look at the small things. They matter. It is a way of tuning in to the needs of all those around you – family and friends, as well as students, teachers and parents.
Who would you most like to be for a day?
During a holiday in Namibia I volunteered at a cheetah conservation park. I’d love to be able to experience the life of a fulltime big cat researcher, working with those magnificent animals.
A genuine awe and respect for the natural life of our planet is something I want every child to grow up with.
What is the best advice you would give one of your new school joiners?
Look, listen and learn. Changing school is hard for children, especially adolescents. They need to adapt to the culture of their new school and how students interact with respect for their peers and teachers. And then after only a few days, they’re ready to fit in, which is very important for young people.
Overseas Family School provides a modern education in the English language for Overseas Families living in Singapore. All all-through school for ages 2 - 18, the OFS curriculum follows the the International Early Years Curriculum (IEYC) Pre-K1 (2 years old) to K2, International Primary Curriculum (IPC) Grades 1 to 5 and International Baccalaureate (IB) Grades 6 to 12. OFS has a strong Mother Tongue and Study Preparation programme. For information on admissions please click here