Mr. Darrin Tan: Changing Lives One Student At A Time
Knowledge Training Learning Centre
Mr. Darrin Tan started with a vision: to educate and touch the lives of students. Equipped with a Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics, a Master of
Science in Mathematics Education, and a several years of teaching experience, he started Knowledge Trail Learning Centre in 2009. With a
belief that learning takes place only if students are taught with care, nurture, patience, fun, and time, Knowledge Trail Learning Centre has quickly established itself as a true visionary in education, with success stories of
their teaching philosophy to back it up.
It’s not surprising at all that Knowledge Trail Learning Centre is one of the top learning centers in Singapore. At its core is a set of highly experienced and dedicated teachers with proven track records, extremely small class sizes of up to six students, and specially crafted levels or streams. But more importantly, beyond educating students, Mr. Tan believes in touching lives of students to help them become more confident. In this interview, Mr Tan reveals how he has managed to stay afloat—and even excel—in Singapore’s competitive education sector.
Passion-Drive Growth through a Team of High-Profile and Compassionate Educators
Before Mr. Tan opened the Knowledge Training Learning Centre in Upper Thomson Road in 2009, he and his wife were so busy teaching students in their respective schools. According to him, “We didn’t have much time for our kids, only on weekends. I was anticipating to be in school more than teaching my own children.” This is when he decided to start his own business.
What started as a partnership between Mr. Tan, the Master Teacher in Mathematics, and his wife Mrs. Charissa, the Master Teacher in English,
quickly grew into a respectable and dedicated faculty of teaching professionals. Today, Knowledge Training Learning Centre, has six teachers and one full-time staff in charge of administration and operations.
Mr. Tan understands the importance of excellent educators who are just as committed as him in pursuing his vision, “We started with just the two of us, but as our classes grew, we had to advertise for [and look for] more teachers. People will apply, but it is not easy to select the right candidate. What we want to see is not only the ability to teach, but also the ability to touch and influence the students. Because we don’t want teachers who just come, teach, and go. What we want are teachers who influence the kids with passion.” “The way to survive in this highly competitive industry, is actually select the right teachers,” says Mr. Tan.
True enough, the faculty of Knowledge Training Learning Centre is composed of superstars in the academe, all of whom have excellent academic
background and years of experience.
Looking Ahead: Making a Difference in the Education Sector
Having been in business for five years, Knowledge Learning Training Centre has a lot of room for growth. Mr. Tan faces no shortage of challenges. “We are still facing challenges all the time,” he says. “But one of the biggest challenge is that we have to keep a tight cashflow.”
With a steadier cashflow, he plans to expand his business. His business acumen shines through the most as he speaks about his future plans: “I would like to continue to touch lives. We’d like to increase our reach.
Hopefully, in the next five years, we will have two more centers. Our ideal locations are in the North and in the West. Hopefully, with all these centers in place, we will be able to help more students get back their confidence in themselves.”
That’s not to say that he is fearless about the future of his business. In fact, one of his fears is that of being unprepared. “You do not know what the future is going to bring,” he says. “It can be exciting, but it can be scary.”
But how to conquer this fear? His thoughts provide incredible insight: “Not letting this fear control us. Use this fear to keep us on our toes. Look out for opportunities. And at the same time be prepared for crises.”
If one thing’s clear about Mr. Tan, that’s his unmistakable passion not only to drive business growth, but also to transform lives of students in the process. In fact, he recalls his most satisfying moments in business as the times when students and teachers message him about successfully hurdling a subject they used to fail.
Integrity and Gratitude: Principles that Every Entrepreneur Needs
As a businessman, Mr. Tan appreciates that he can spend more time with his children, who are in the ages five and seven years old respectively. He also loves that he can better manage his time. He says, “We used to wake up every morning, and our time is shaped and tied to our work.”
But this doesn’t mean that it’s all roses and butterflies. However, with all the challenges he faces as a businessman, his advice is simple: “Never give up, because tough times will surely come.” Whenever faced with a challenge, he keeps two nuggets of wisdom of mind. “’The darkest hour is the hour before the dawn’ and ‘tough times do no last, but tough people do’.”
As an educator and a businessman, the most important principle for him is integrity: “The most important principle is to always maintain integrity. Without integrity or your credibility is finished.” His gratitude also shines through as he talks about how far he has come, “Always appreciate the present. When you look at what you have right now, we tend to always feel dissatisfied. But actually, you’re not doing pretty badly. Use that to change our perspectives.”
Inspired by his father and his unconditional belief in him, Mr. Tan’s passion for teaching and expanding his business stronger than ever. Every day is an enriching experience, as he recalls how seeing his students as his inspiration. He recalls a student who is in the top of her level, and even received a citation from her school. He also believes that nobody should get left behind, as he relates, “We’re thinking of even students who are very weak in their subjects, and transform them into students who are very confident, and later, when they have this confidence, they can do better in school.”
Asked how he views success, he says, in an answer that is quite different from other business, “[Success is] the touching of a life, one at a time.” By how he has changed the lives of his students in his five years in business, it’s pretty clear that he’s made quite a successful man of himself.
Knowledge Trail Learning Centre267A, Upper Thomson Road Postal Code 574394 Tel: 64557355 Website: www.acorneducation.com.sg