As a vibrant and multicultural international school, we value our staff and their contributions to the success of our students. Meet our longest-serving employees Ms Kamini Ramchandani, Assistant to the Principal, and Mr Karounagarane, Director Facilities Management
We sat down with Kamini and Karounagarane to talk about the highlights of their time working at the International French School (Singapore).
Forty years at the French school! LFS then IFS. 150 students in 1980, 2,900 today. You have seen the school evolve and transform. Can you share with us your thoughts of these 40 years at the French school?
Kamini: I have, indeed, witnessed the transformation of our school from the little family I began with at EFS, to LFS and, finally, to IFS! It’s been an amazing journey in which I have learnt so much. I feel as if I have grown with the school and have shared in its challenges and its successes. When I began in 1980, the students only had lessons in the morning. We occupied classrooms in the annex of the Alliance Française building at Draycott Park. Our High School completed their syllabus through correspondence, and our library was a tiny room with a modest collection of books. When I look at how far we have come since then, I am filled with a mix of nostalgia and pride. I miss the simplicity of our communication and the close contact which we had, but am aware that we have to maintain the momentum when striving for progress.
Thirty years at the French school! LFS then IFS. 400 students in 1990, 2,900 today. You have seen the school evolve and transform. Can you share with us your thoughts of these 30 years at the French school?
Karounagarane: I have seen the school transformed. In 1990, the teaching was purely French and the teachers were mostly expatriates. Today, the IFS is a unique international school with an important multilingualism in the learning, including the students, families and the staff. The school has evolved from a remote location (Bk Tinggi) to the middle of a town council (AMK) with a huge infrastructure. The school has come a long way and it has been a pleasure to follow it.
What was your first job at the Lycée and what was your career path?
Kamini: I was hired by the Cultural Counsellor at the French Embassy to assist the new Principal, a young Mathematics Teacher who would be doubling up as Principal because the previous Head had to leave unexpectedly. So, I actually have had the same job right from the start. However, under the guidance of each Principal and with the changing requirements of the school, my role and my duties have evolved.
Karounagarane: I was hunting for a job in the finance sector with my Bachelor’s degree in Finance. Finally, I ended up grabbing the offer of Lab Technician position at the Lycée. It was my first job in Singapore as well. When AMK 3000 campus was built, I was offered the post of Property Manager.
I gradually upgraded my qualifications – became a Certified Project Manager (by The Institution of Engineers, Singapore) which paved the path to administer all our school Additions and Alteration project works, as well as building maintenance. My MBA and long-term experience in building maintenance and project works, led to my promotion to Facilities Management Director.
How did you learn French?
Kamini: I took lessons at the Alliance Française in the evenings, just for pleasure. I found it to sound beautiful and was encouraged to do so by a friend who was from Morocco.
Karounagarane: French was my second language in school. I was born, raised and graduated in my hometown, Pondicherry (India). Alliance Française and the current school environment opened the doors for me to excel in the French language.
Your first impressions of your integration into the French community?
Kamini: A warm and friendly community who made me feel welcome (and overlooked my grammatical mistakes in French!). One important quality which struck me was the respect I was given from the start. Despite the inevitable hierarchy in work relations, I realised with delight that my position would be more that of a collaborator than of a subordinate.
Can you share with us your most memorable experience?
Kamini: As you would imagine, there have been many and it would be difficult to cite them all. However, one moment which touched my heart during my earliest years at EFS was when the entire school community, parents too, helped with a charity project of which I had spoken to the Principal and in which I would be participating. Not only did they offer to bake quiches, tarts and cakes for our French stand at this International Food Fair, they also took turns to help with the sale on that Saturday. It was a spontaneous and generous act which I did not expect. I soon understood that solidarity is one of the pillars of our school.
Karounagarane: My son’s journey in school from TPS to Bac. He benefited from a unique learning experience and was able to develop his full potential. Finally, my recognition as “Chevalier” of ‘Ordre des Palmes académiques’.
Is there a principal who made a particular impact on your career? If so, why?
Kamini: I have been very fortunate to have worked with such diverse mentors, each with his or her own personality and priorities. I thank them all for their counsel. When I joined the school, I had much to learn about the French system of education and was unsure of what was expected of me but slowly gained confidence with their support. If I had to single out one Principal who made a particular impact on my perspective, I think it would be Mr. Patrick Ténèze. Mr. Ténèze headed the school from 1999 to 2003, arriving soon after we had moved into our premises at 3000 AMK. With a new campus, new policies and ideas were implemented. For me, personally, I was given more responsibilities and the freedom to complete them independently. In addition, I was invited to the Principal’s weekly team meeting. This not only enabled a better understanding of how we all actually worked in concert, but also highlighted its importance. Mr. Soulard, the 10th Principal under whom I have had the pleasure and privilege to work since 2017, has accorded me with the same trust and encouragement.
Karounagarane: There are two people who have had a positive impact on my professional career.
Mr. Patrick Ténèze (former Principal) who had confidence in me to offer the position of Property Manager. Mr. Yves Marcel (Executive Director) who promoted me as Facilities Management Director, looking at my 15 years of performance record as Property Manager. I would like to thank both of them for their support.
To learn more about the many career opportunities at IFS, click here.