This article was originally published here: Eileen Toh – Co-Founder of Genius Plus Academy
Eileen Toh not only takes pleasure from educating, but she believes education should be pleasurable.
What’s your story?
I was a primary school teacher. On the first day of school in 2017, my son was hospitalised for measles, with a high fever. Still, the P1 students I was in charge of would be lost on their first day if I took leave, so I went to work.
That incident helped me realise I needed flexibility in my schedule, thus I left the service. I started my own tuition centre a few months later since I still loved teaching. With the flexible hours, I could also simultaneously pick up a Masters in Education while juggling my work and family.
What excites you most about your industry?
We’re in the business of education. Anything in relation to education – I’m excited. We play a part in helping students learn, become more confident, and relating what they’ve learnt to the world around them.
Many think tuition, especially Math, is just all about drilling and practice. It is not.
For a struggling student – we need to spend time first understanding their troubles and the gaps to fill. For a young student – we have to pique their interest, show them that learning is actually fun and something they can excel in. There’s a lot of human, behavioural aspects people don’t see.
What drives you in business to push beyond what other people consider normal?
When you are passionate about something – it’s easy to keep plugging away at something to create something that becomes better and better.
Over the last 2-3 years, we have produced a total 24 textbooks & more than 30 workbooks for our students. This is something that we work on everyday because it is part of what we need to deliver a comprehensive, engaging lesson.
I’m also a perfectionist, and so the books will never be complete. We will keep coming up with brand new fresh editions of our books yearly so they will always be better versions of what they were.
What have been the most useful skills you have learnt and applied in your journey?
Be honest and frank with people you meet.
Don’t start a business to only make money.
During a diagnostic consultation, I’ll always take a step back as a business owner – and see from an educator’s perspective, considering the problems and solutions for the child. I’ll inform the parents frankly what I can offer, and the potential difficulties ahead.
I’ve rejected parents who are willing to pay plenty for a guaranteed grade. I’ve found that these parents later return, realising that I’ve actually provided an honest assessment and a pragmatic approach towards addressing their child’s issues rather than making empty promises.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
The best piece of advice I’ve received is this: things within your control – do the best you can. Things outside your control – pray but don’t fret over them
There are many things in life that are outside our control. We should focus on the things that we still do have control over and use the precious time available to do our best in whatever we can instead of worrying about things that we have no control over.
Who inspires you?
His approach towards people & business is refreshing.
I’ve learnt from him three key lessons: work for something that you believe in, treat your staff with respect, and be honest with people you meet – always.
What have you learnt recently that blew you away?
A space probe launched in 1977, entered interstellar space in 2012 is still sending signals back to Earth recently – that’s cool.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
In my younger days, I spent a lot of money on things that weren’t necessary. I should have started saving & investing from a younger age instead of spending all my money.
How do you unwind?
I like the outdoors, so bringing my 3 boys out to the park is something I always enjoy.
My husband recently bought an Xbox for the family – that’s something that the whole family enjoys playing together.
What is a major mindset change, belief shift or ‘ah ha’ moment that you’ve experienced in relation to your business?
I did teaching after my A Levels as a relief teacher – that was when I realised that I really love teaching and in particular, young children. I then signed up to become a teacher with MOE. At the Primary school I was assigned to, I had a lot of good memories, good mentors, and good colleagues. The classes I taught also gave me great satisfaction. I left MOE because the hours I was spending were long, and I only got to spend only an hour or two with my kid. Yet deep down, I knew I loved teaching.
Everyone in business should read this book:
Simon Sinek – The Infinite Game
Shameless plug for your business:
At Genius Plus Academy, we cap our class sizes at 6. Every child gets the individualised attention they need. We produce our own resources and publications. Each term, a new textbook is issued, they are in colour and kids love them. We have 30+ workbooks of different topics (e.g. Volume /Rate/Speed/Percentage/Fractions) and each book has 80 to 110 questions. They also come with QR codes with guided video tutorials going through the answers.
Our tutors are former school teachers and they care for each child as an individual.
How can people connect with you?
Social Media Links?
This interview is part of the CallumConnects series.