Nanyang Junior College principal Kwek Hiok Chuang, 62, is known for knocking on students' doors whenever they miss school for a couple of days. "I do it to students who have serious problems," said Mr Kwek.
Six years ago, a student who had family issues spent several days out of school and nearly missed her project deadline.
He and another teacher paid her a home visit. "Eventually, she was convinced and came back to do her A levels," said Mr Kwek. "And she got straight As."
Mr Kwek, who was principal of four schools, and founding principal of North View Secondary and Pioneer Junior College, will soon retire after 38 years in education.
He is among 17 retiring and former principals whose contributions were acknowledged at the appointment and appreciation ceremony for principals yesterday.
In the annual Education Ministry reshuffle exercise, 61 principals received letters of appointment. Thirteen of them are newly appointed.
Among them was Mr Chan Choon Loong, 38, who will be principal of Northbrooks Secondary School. He intends to work with industry partners to build upon the school's existing aerospace and outdoor education programmes.
"These two programmes offer a good platform to develop character, grit and resilience, and (for students) to go beyond their comfort zone," he said.
Among the 61 appointed principals are those who, from next year, will helm the seven secondary schools that were born out of mergers. Ai Tong School, Nanyang Primary School, CHIJ St Nicholas Girls' School, Dunman High School and Catholic Junior College will also get new principals.
Another retiring principal is Madam Tan Bin Eng, 61, who has spent 33 years in education, most recently with St Andrew's Junior School.
During her time at St Andrew's and Tampines Primary School, she began a "lesson study" approach that allowed teachers to sit in during other teachers' classes and discuss teaching methods.
Her advice to new principals: "The first thing (to do) is to know the people, the school's culture, rather than make changes very hastily."
She also stressed the importance of good values.
"You have to lead from inside-out, from what you believe in... if you are sincere, consistent, people will trust you."