Tributes pour in for St Margaret's ex-principal

Mrs George, who died last Thursday of heart failure at age 86, had retired in 1990 after serving 23 years as the principal of St Margaret's Secondary School.
Mrs George, who died last Thursday of heart failure at age 86, had retired in 1990 after serving 23 years as the principal of St Margaret's Secondary School.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Former students and colleagues call late educator a role model for many

Students and colleagues paid tribute to former St Margaret's Secondary School principal Liza George, hailing her as an exemplary leader for educators and an inspiration to her students.

Mrs George, who died last Thursday of heart failure at age 86, was one of the school's long-serving principals.

The educator, who retired in 1990 after serving 23 years as the principal of St Margaret's, is fondly remembered by many in the teaching fraternity as one who brought enthusiasm to her lessons.

To her former students, she was a graceful and approachable principal who was firm when the situation called for it.

Mrs George was also an inspiration to many of her students who went on to choose a career in education.

Teacher Susan Thomas, 52, who attended St Margaret's in the late 70s, when Mrs George was principal, said the girls respected her.

"Even for the girls who were sometimes difficult to handle, Mrs George knew how to manage them in her own gentle way," she added.

Mrs George was one of her inspirations for taking up a career in teaching. "She was a role model for many of us. We looked up to her," Mrs Thomas said.

Former St Margaret's student Josephine Yeo, 54 , said the former principal wore a stern demeanour but had a loving heart for the girls.

"She was a gem of a principal and is well loved by many of her students, whose lives she has touched over the years," she added.

Another old girl, Mrs Tay-Lang Ren Jee, 59, said the former school leader carried herself well. "We've never seen her shout," she added. "Whenever we saw her, we knew that we ought to behave."

Mrs Tay-Lang, a teacher, added that Mrs George focused "a lot on character" and was nurturing in that aspect. "We will definitely miss her," she said.

Outside the education arena, Mrs George was a treasured friend.

Retired teacher Yee Teck Peng, 83, who had known Mrs George for more than 60 years since they were teachers, said she was an "excellent, quiet disciplinarian".

"She never had to raise her voice, and everything still ran smoothly," he added.

Mrs George, who celebrated her birthday last month, leaves behind three children - Mathew, 58, Mary, 57, and Cherian, 51 - and four grandchildren.

Her daughter, Mary, said she was a "good storyteller", who had the ability to take something and turn it into an amazing story. "For her, it was a natural thing," she added.

A funeral service will be held at Purity Hall, Mount Vernon Sanctuary today at 2pm.

After the service, Mrs George will be cremated at Mandai Crematorium at 3.45pm.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 12, 2016, with the headline 'Tributes pour in for St Margaret's ex-principal'. Print Edition | Subscribe