Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Women of Vision: 1925 - 1993

This is the second part of the "Timeless Traditions" exhibition that took place on 4 August 2009 at Pavilion Kuala Lumpur. This exhibition has been researched, written and sponsored by Joanna Yeoh and photos have been re-produced with permission from Miss YL Moey. Please obtain written copyright permission from the author before reproducing any information and images for print or digital use. Thank you.

Miss Prouse and the first class of Senior Students presented for the
Cambridge School Certificate Examination

Miss Eva Prouse, 1925 - 1941

Miss Eva Prouse arrived from Rockhampton, Queensland in April 1925. During her tenure as Headmistress, the school presented students for the Cambridge School Certificate Examination for the first time in 1928.

Miss Prouse was strict but fair, and a stickler for neatness and tidiness. Straight and tall, she was always impeccably dressed and walked round the school with a firm and purposeful tread.

She took a keen interest in sports and would attend all the badminton matches in which the school participated. Before leaving for the venue, the school players and supporters were usually given a talk on fair play and sportsmanship.

When the Second World War broke out, Miss Prouse was interned in Palembang, Sumatra. On 8 February 1945, just six months before the Japanese surrender, Miss Prouse died from malaria. Prouse House carried her name and Prouse Wing was built with the savings she left the school.

Miss Mary Glasgow, 1946 - 1957

In 1930, Miss Mary Glasgow arrived to serve with Miss Prouse as the school moved to Bukit Bintang Road. Together, they worked tirelessly to improve the school until the Second World War. Serving until the last possible moment, Miss Glasgow and Miss Prouse were both captured and interned in Sumatra.

Miss Glasgow survived the internment and returned to head BBGS in August 1946. Before the war, many parents preferred to keep their daughters at home so the numbers were small. However following the war, there was
tremendous pressure to get girls admitted to the school. The buildings could not rise fast enough to meet soaring enrolment.

Miss Glasgow was known for her ability to make Literature come alive and was brilliant in Mathematics. She was loved because she took personal interest in the girls, while demanding that they gave of their best. She taught, guided and inspired the next generation of Malaysian educators including Miss Elena Cooke, who took over from Miss Glasgow as Principal of BBGS in 1958.

In recognition of her contribution to education in Malaya, Miss Glasgow was awarded the MBE (Master of the Order of the British Empire) in 1955. In 1960, she retired from teaching after 30 years of dedicated service and returned home to Ireland.

Miss Elena Cooke, 1958 - 1977

Miss Elena Cooke had the rare distinction of being a student, teacher, headmistress and chairman of the Board of Governors of Bukit Bintang Girls’ School (BBGS). Her student days began in 1928 and she started her teaching career in 1945, having earned a degree from Queen’s University in Belfast.

She went on to become one of the most well-respected headmistresses of BBGS, leading the school from 1958 – 1977. Renowned as a perfectionist who demanded nothing but the best from her staff and pupils, she took on her responsibilities with thoroughness and dedication. She is known for her sharp eye for detail, her insistence on excellent pronunciation, her intolerance for laziness, rudeness and untidiness and preoccupation with discipline.

Under her leadership, BBGS flourished. The school buildings, enrolment and reputation grew from strength to strength, earning her the title of Master Builder. She was awarded a KMN in 1977 for her excellent service and dedication to the field of education in Malaysia.

Miss Yeap Gaik Khoon, 1980 - 1993

Miss Yeap came to BBGS from another well-known missionary school - Methodist Girls’ School Taiping. She is a graduate of the University of Malaya (Singapore) and University of Southampton (United Kingdom). When Miss Yeap took over the reins of BBGS, she faced the formidable task of maintaining the high standards of BBGS while carrying on the school traditions.

Fortunately, Miss Yeap has one special quality that helped her cope with the challenges – she cares. She always had a listening and sympathetic ear for her students and staff. She encouraged open dialogue between teachers and parents to talk about their children’s progress in school.

Sports, especially hockey, was close to Miss Yeap’s heart. She was always there to encourage and support the BBGS hockey team, which went on to win district, state and national championships.

Miss Yeap retired as Principal of BBGS in 1993, and went on to become Principal of Fairview International School. Today, she is retired from active teaching and resides in Kuala Lumpur.

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