This article forms part of our National Volunteer Week coverage, celebrating the breadth and depth of expertise that our partners bring to New Zealand schools. For more interviews and celebrations, head this way!
Springboard’s volunteers are the backbone of our work. Bringing their unique skill sets to New Zealand school leaders creates connections and learning that are difficult to find elsewhere – and for the volunteers themselves, it means a special opportunity to give back.
For the Department of Conservation’s Carolyn Smith, this sense of giving back to schools was at the heart of her decision to work with us.
“I’ve always volunteered in some form. Our communities are run and defined by how much we participate in them, and schools are at the heart of that. It makes for a pretty cool opportunity!”
Flexing your strategic muscles
Carolyn is a self-proclaimed “strategy geek” and was thrilled to be able to apply that expertise in a volunteer setting.
“Springboard means I can align my volunteering with something I already love to do– strategic thinking and planning. It’s a different skill to some of the volunteering opportunities you see on offer, which is fantastic.”
Since 2017, Carolyn has volunteered in a number of Springboard roles. She initially came on board as a Capacity Partner, to work directly with a principal on their strategic plan. That role reshaped into becoming a facilitator for our Springboard Coaching for Leadership programme for two years in a row.
Now, she is in a coaching role for our newest offering, the Strategic Leadership for Rural Teaching Principals programme.
With a rich history in strategic planning and a variety of SBT roles under her belt, Carolyn is well-placed to speak to the value of this work – and the challenges she has helped principals overcome.
“Coaching has been a great experience for me. We use the GROW Model of coaching Springboard uses at DOC. The aim is to help others explore and resolve their challenge without the coach leading or solving the issue for them. As I have no education background, I can’t fall into the temptation to solve because I don’t understand the context well enough-which holds me firmly in the coaching space.”
Carolyn has found having a breadth of experience outside of education has also been an advantage in other ways.
“It means you concentrate on leadership and strategy. You don’t get caught up in the details of what the ministry is doing – you just focus on the principal as a person and a leader.”