Barely a year after she started teaching, Madam Kamaladevi Chellayya was shortlisted as one of the most inspirational primary school Tamil teachers in Singapore for the first edition of Tamil-language daily Tamil Murasu's awards.
Thirteen years later, Madam Kamaladevi, who teaches at Yangzheng Primary School, has come full circle to win the primary-school category of the Most Inspiring Tamil Teachers awards.
She was among 11 teachers recognised for making a difference to students' lives through the teaching of the language at a ceremony yesterday.
More than 100 nominations were submitted by current and former students, parents and other teachers.
Sembawang GRC MP Vikram Nair presented the awards to winners and runners-up of the four categories at Umar Pulavar Tamil Language Centre.
Mr Louis Isack Kumar of Bartley Secondary School won the secondary-school category.
Two trainee teachers from the National Institute of Education, Mr M. Satheeswaran and Mr Ramasamy Stalin, were presented with Most Inspiring Trainee Teachers awards.
Three retired teachers - Mr Poopathey Thaigarajan, Mr Velayutham Jeyakumaran and Mr Mashuthoo Abdul Rahiman - were presented with Lifetime Inspiring Teachers awards to honour their years of devotion to the Tamil teaching profession.
Madam Kamaladevi, who currently teaches a Primary 1 and a Primary 4 class, said that her teaching strategy is to be a friend to her pupils.
"You need to get to know your students well and build trust," said the 47-year-old.
She also introduces fun elements to her classes, such as singing and dancing, though she said that she is firm with discipline.
She said that she was surprised to receive the award, and does not know who nominated her.
"Some of my students and friends showed up at the awards, and I feel very happy to be getting so many complimentary remarks because I don't really think of myself that way. But it has made me feel like maybe I do deserve this award as a Teachers' Day gift this year."