The Difference A Springboard Volunteer Makes

This National Volunteers Week, we're shouting out the hundreds of people who give their time and expertise to make NZ learners' lives better.

Dear Volunteers: We're nothing without you.

Springboard Trust's vision is to improve the lives of young New Zealanders. But we can't make that happen without the thousands of hours our volunteers give freely every year.

Our volunteers come from all walks of life, but all have one thing in common: a desire to give back to our schools.

Through Springboard Trust, they partner with school leaders and - often over the course of 10 months - spend time listening to, challenging and developing those in New Zealand's most important role: education.

They do this as coaches, subject matter experts, facilitators and capacity partners. And this week, we're featuring interviews with some of our astonishingly accomplished volunteers to highlight their contribution.

We've also got a free infographic below that shows the breadth of work our volunteers do, as well as some special messages of thanks from principals whose lives have been irrevocably changed for the better.

Join us in applauding all of our volunteers, and enjoy what we've got on offer this week!

I'm constantly amazed by the depth of knowledge our volunteers bring to school leaders, and will always be in awe of just how committed they are to helping young New Zealanders.
Suzy Mitchell, Partnerships Manager, Springboard Trust

To Springboard's Volunteers: An Infographic of Thanks

Download Your Copy!

Our favourite volunteer stories here at Springboard


Volunteer values from a self-proclaimed strategy geek

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.” Facing challenges alongside principals Carolyn has some fantastic insights into principals and the risk of burnout– all of which stems from her own experience. “I’ve seen senior leaders go so long without having a good work/life balance, and it take its toll on everyone eventually. Even if it’s not a burnout as such, I’ve seen people develop cancer through exposing themselves to years of stress – everyone needs to find their limits.” It’s a lesson that she believes is critical for principals. “They are always giving 190% - and it’s not healthy. You need to have a good balance, to set an example for your team. If you get too immersed in the role you lose perspective, and I’ve found that to be a vital step that I can help with.” Helping principals achieve that lightbulb moment, of realising they need to set a healthy example for both themselves and their teams, was one of the most impactful experiences for Carolyn. Taking risks as a facilitator has also been a high point. “One time I pushed forward with a series of uncomfortable questions. It was incredibly challenging for the participants, but I encouraged them to lean in and be brave, which they did. It moved a principal relationship into a place of true honesty with their team. It was incredibly powerful and I was so proud of them - helping them reach that place is a real privilege.” Cutting-edge application When Carolyn first joined Springboard Trust, she had just completed her post-graduate certificate in Strategic Leadership through University of Canterbury’s Executive Leadership MBA programme.  Coming into a volunteer environment focused on this, she was impressed with what she saw. “A lot of the material Springboard teaches – it's very similar to the contemporary and cutting edge material in the papers I had just completed at Canterbury. It reinforced the quality of Springboard’s approach around leadership.” “So many principals I’ve worked with move from being a teacher into this leadership role, and it’s totally different. Many don’t have formal training or support and may have outdated models of leadership or experienced traditionally masculine ideals around what makes a good leader.” “At Canterbury we learned that leadership is people centered-starting with looking after yourself.  A good leader doesn’t need to be the star up front with all the ideas, but a coach who brings out the best in their people. The way leadership has been taught was, for a very long time, not focused on the human elements of an organisation. Springboard’s leadership material doesn’t do that, and I was very impressed.” Overall, Carolyn believes Springboard is a great place to volunteer. “Schools are at the heart of communities. And if you want to give back to your community, Springboard is the perfect place to do that.”
5 min read

A mirror for leadership: Gai Foskett on the role of a Springboard coach

"All I do is ask questions – the rest of it, they do.” Gai Foskett, Master Certified Coach, has a talent for keeping things simple. And while that’s undoubtedly a strength in the leadership coaching sphere, it perhaps belies the true value of what she – and Springboards’ volunteers generally - bring to the table. Making a positive difference in the world With 19 years of experience in the executive coaching sphere, Gai has an immense pool of knowledge to draw upon – and a clear understanding of what she wants out of volunteering. “I can’t get rid of fossil fuels. But if I can make a big difference in lots of small places, it turns into a ripple effect.” “The work I do normally, I have structured it so I always have time and space for one or two pro bono coaching projects. When the ICF (International Coach Federation) sent out a call for Springboard volunteers, I knew I wanted to give my support.” As she explains, that’s because education is the most important sector there is. "It’s undernourished, undervalued, but so incredibly important. Teachers shape young minds, and educational leaders – like leaders in any sector – get lonely at the top. It’s such a privileged space to work in.” Starting with the leader in the mirror Gai’s approach to leadership coaching is an holistic one, which means – in her words – getting out of the school leader’s way. “Coaching, it’s a very empowered space for people to do their own thinking. I try to do that, then get out of their way. It’s a little like being a mirror – whether they’re deputy principals or CEOs, they often don’t have people they can speak to about their leadership struggles.” “That also makes my role one of a sounding board, and a bit of a cheerleader. I provide rigour and accountability to what they say they want to do. It can be scary for the leader, coming into these sessions knowing they’re going to be stretched and challenged.” “But that’s my job. Finding the simple questions they need to answer, no matter how hard, and then letting them come to that answer themselves.” Building vulnerability With that focus on enabling and holding accountable comes some significant challenges – especially in the education sphere. “Leaders, especially new ones, seem to think they have to know all the answers, and refuse to be seen as vulnerable. They haven’t connected with the idea that vulnerability is courage. You have to learn as a leader that you’re not the one who knows everything – you're the one who empowers your people to find answers themselves, to learn and grow as individuals.”Better than equal This is a difficult road, especially with so many ingrained behaviours that create barriers to vulnerability in leadership – something Gai understands well. “When I was a senior executive in the corporate space , working with a lot of male lawyers and accountants, I had to be better to be considered equal. Sadly, I still see this in some workplaces - it's very detrimental.” “I’ve seen women in leadership who refute that vulnerability because, like I did, they feel they have to know everything just to be seen as equal by their male coworkers. It’s an incredibly hard approach, because that idea that vulnerability is weakness is still so pervasive.” Coming back for more Despite the many struggles for leaders in education, Gai remains committed to helping them succeed. “People tell me things they’ve never told anyone before. About how they think, why they act the way they do – just because nobody has ever asked them before.” “That’s the thing with Springboard volunteering – you have the opportunity to make such a huge difference to leaders who play the most important role in our children’s lives.” “It cascades down as well. You help leaders understand themselves, they help their team, who then pay it forward to others. That ripple effect, the trust you build, it is just incredible. If you’re ever on the fence about whether you should do this kind of work, let me tell you: just do it!”
4 min read

How Tania Morgan-Smith takes a "peek behind the curtain" at education

There are many ways we give back to our communities – and for one in five New Zealanders, that takes the form of volunteering.   For IAG’s Tania Morgan-Smith, there were many reasons to volunteer with Springboard Trust. A labour of love, a tangible way to give back, a way to put her strategic expertise to use for the good of others.  Also, a naturally curious parent, she was thrilled to get a look at how principals worked day-to-day.   [This content forms part of our National Volunteer Week celebrations - head this way to check out the rest of our interviews, videos and infographics!] Coming together  Initially, Tania thought Springboard was too good to be true.   “I was referred by a work colleague who’d been a capacity partner (CP) the year before, and thought I would love it.”   “But from some initial social research, I couldn’t find anyone who had heard of Springboard. Once I found one of our Auckland team volunteered as a facilitator and spoke to them, I understood – and I couldn’t wait to start.”  “I loved that it was separate to the Ministry, and everyone I ended up speaking to about the work said the relationship they built with their principal was amazing.”  With 10 years of leadership experience, a background in coaching and a high dose of natural inquisitiveness and optimism, Tania leapt at the opportunity to partner with a principal.   “At a lot of organisations you do a volunteer day each year – but with IAG happy to have me work with Springboard, I felt like this was a much longer-lasting way to give back.” A rare kind of relationship  In Tania’s own words, her first meetings with her SLPP principal – Mark – were like an awkward blind date.   “As we figured each other out, we got a beautiful level of openness that I really appreciated – totally impartial and honest, which is really rare these days.”  Her work with Mark was in challenging him, reflecting with him and helping him overcome hurdles in his strategic development.   “I loved working with Mark and it was such a privilege to be so embraced by both him and his school community as one of their own.”  The two-way path of learning  A self-confessed overthinker, Tania found SLPP an invaluable opportunity to practice keeping things simple in a coaching and relationship-building environment.   “Corporate environments tend to lean on fancy language, but this programme is not academic – it's organic.”  “It’s you talking to a principal, one human to another. Working with Mark basically helped me learn when to stop talking – to understand when he was opening up in a way he often couldn’t, and when it was my job to listen and help him simplify what was going on.”   “I want to help them capture how they feel, and help them respond to it – no jargon required at all.”  These are lessons that Tania has brought back with her to IAG, and used to help herself and others discover new development opportunities.   “Since doing SLPP, I’ve been promoted into a more strategic role. I thought that was going to mean more of that academic thinking, but it’s the opposite – it's about stepping back, doing less so you can achieve more – applying what I tried to help Mark with to my own role.”  “It’s made working with SBT such a huge win-win, being able to give back while also gaining some pretty groundbreaking personal and professional development myself!” Unique opportunities for connection  As Tania explains, there was also a massive third benefit to volunteering with Springboard Trust – the connection with other Capacity Partners.   “You work with the most diverse range of businesses in SLPP. Air New Zealand, Conservation, Sports New Zealand and small business owners – people I would otherwise have never had the opportunity to work with.”  “Everyone’s had the typical networking experience, where everything feels a bit false – SLPP is nothing like that. Every single person is involved for the greater good, which brings a real honesty to the work. It’s people being their real selves!”  Seeing the role for what it truly is   Through SLPP, Tania noticed a common thread between Mark and other principals – that they often undersold their capabilities.   “I was surprised by how many don’t see themselves as leaders, using statement like ‘never left school’ and underplaying their role. Their role is massive! It might be innate humility, or maybe true servant leadership – either way, actually seeing behind that curtain gave me so much respect for everything they do. They give all of themselves to the work.”  “I just wish their own view of principalship matched more with how I feel about it!”  Back for round two   In 2020, Tania has returned to volunteer with Springboard – and she’s brought some great metaphors with her.   “Why wouldn’t I come back? The first time is like the burnt pancake – it's still good, but it’s never the best. Now that I’ve done SLPP once, I want to give it another shot and develop more. IAG has been super supportive of this too – there's been no barriers at all to coming back.”  The second time around, Tania is spending more time sitting with what her principal – Bruce – is saying and trying to challenge him in a constructive way.   “Last year it would take me a couple of tries to properly take something in – this year I’m more familiar with the content of the workshops, so can focusing on being present, clearing my head and giving my all.”  But of course, the COVID-19 pandemic has made being present a little more difficult. Bruce and Tania enjoyed the switch to virtual conversations o far and, based on their first remote workshop, there are still no real barriers to development ahead.   “I’m told we should never waste a crisis, so using this time to notice how Bruce and his school community rally has been invaluable. How you uniquely are is how you respond to a situation – and for Bruce and I, we’re both here to help each other. There’s no stopping that!”  
6 min read

"Back your own knowledge" - A volunteer's advice to himself

A common thread in first-time volunteers at Springboard Trust is wondering what you can bring to a school principal’s development. We work with volunteers from a broad spectrum of industries, all with different focuses and levels of expertise – yet almost always, they feel unsure about the work.   Even Dan Grafton, ASB’s South Island Sales Manager – who had done extensive work with schools before, including being on a Board of Trustees – was uncertain about his expertise with school leadership.   It didn’t take long for that to change.   The a-ha moment  In his role at ASB, Dan has spearheaded multiple initiatives that saw the bank engage schools throughout the community. Through this – and his time on a BoT – Dan saw school leadership first-hand, including the complex dynamics that principals must navigate.  But it wasn’t until the first session that he fully grasped what he could bring to the relationship.   “The vision session was a big a-ha moment for me. As a corporate we talk about purpose a lot, and have shifted over time to a big focus on helping customers over making products. To go to the first workshop and hear about the vision was like hey, wait – this is my bread and butter!”   With schools also looking at tools like the Gallup Q12 surveys, Dan was able to go above and beyond – bringing his expertise with these frameworks to principals in a clear and concise way.   “The strategic planning process is really similar across both ASB and schools – realising that gave me a huge appreciation for how these models work and align with other sectors.”   Despite thinking his experience with strategic planning was unofficial – and perhaps not applicable to an education environment – Dan quickly realised the core of Springboard’s cross-sector magic.   “If you’re a people leader, in any way, you can help others learn. Strategic planning, focusing on vision – everything you need is there.”  Bringing the long-sightedness  Upon joining the Strategic Leadership for Principals Programme, Dan found that each principal had distinctly different priorities.   “I’ve done the programme twice now, and these schools were chalk and cheese in terms of structure and what they wanted to achieve.”  “The balance between wellbeing and achievement, particularly in schools affected by the earthquakes, was huge. Some also haven’t thought a lot about their strategic plan before either – it's just a document they file once per year, rather than something they always come back to.”  That’s where honesty becomes, as it often does, the best policy.   “You’ve got to call them out, challenge the principals on what they want to achieve, so they can identify what they want to do and how that links back to their vision.”   “It’s sometimes hard. A lot of principals are so busy fighting fires, fighting to get through the next hour that a long-term focus takes some work.”   He also believes the matching process goes a long way to forging this honest relationship.   “It takes a bit of time to get to know your principal, but we got along just so well – felt really well paired, which is fundamental for making this programme work.”  Learning for two   While the Strategic Leadership for Principals Programme focuses on the school leader’s learning, Dan also brought back some important lessons to ASB.   “SLPP was great for some perspective, to appreciate how good we have it at ASB. Education changes so often and so fast – by comparison, we have a lot of stability. I was able to bring back some of the challenges teachers were facing which helped bed in that mentality for our teams too.”  “Another big thing was cultural diversity. We had relatively little exposure to Māori culture from my departments perspective, while it is a critical priority for the principals I’ve worked with.”  “I’ve been able to do some training myself in that regard, and bring it forward as a focus.”   All told, it has been a fantastic pair of partnerships for both Dan and the principals he has worked with. When asked what advice he would give himself if he was considering SLPP, he was unequivocal:  “Just go in and do it – and back your own knowledge. It’s an awesome experience, well run, and incredibly rewarding.”  
4 min read

The home school life: An interview with Sven Pannell

Sven Pannell, Director at KPMG and four-year veteran of Springboard Trust programme facilitation, is showing me his monobrow. “These maniacal little ones,” he says, “have scratched me right between the eyes in a ‘tickle-fight’ and now I look like I have a monobrow over Zoom calls”. Gesturing to the rest of his home office, he points out painting supplies and toys scattered around the books and folders. “If you look downstairs, it’s total carnage – huts, toys everywhere. My wife and I prefer a tidy house, but we’ve found the kids disagree.” Two months into home schooling his 6yo son and 3yo daughter, Sven and his wife have embraced an unstructured approach to their children’s learning. With both parents working jobs that ramped up under lockdown, they decided to focus on meaningful connection with their children over disciplined learning frameworks. It’s something he notes has been deeply rewarding, albeit with a few quirks. Bringing the learning home Prior to COVID-19, just 3,597 families home schooled their children. Of course, in the last few months that number has skyrocketed, with parents assuming multiple roles – parent, worker, teacher, friend, playmate – often simultaneously. For Sven, the unstructured approach to home schooling has been both necessity and a challenge. “I definitely wouldn’t recommend doing it the way we did - but it was the way we had to do it.” “We both have full time jobs with clients who needed support as much as possible, and we both have that desire to do our best for them during this time. It meant a lot of pressure, largely driven from within, which we were then balancing with spending as much time as possible with our 6yo boy and 3yo girl.” “Our home schooling, we weren’t super disciplined about it – the most important thing for my wife and I was to connect as meaningfully as possible with our kids.” Under the view that the lockdown would not be a long-term situation, Sven and his wife set about creating fun, creative educational situations for their children without focusing on a structured routine. “A big highlight was taking the training wheels off my son’s bike, and riding with him around Khandallah. There’s a really great community of families, of kids saying hello and social distancing and being together, even if they’re apart.  Just getting outside and exploring our local environment with fresh eyes was important for us.” “And my daughter – spending time like this, you see so much more about what makes them tick. I didn’t realise how wonderful she was at role playing, singing and at inventive games. You learn so, so much more about them in this situation and by letting them entertain themselves a bit more than normal.” “It’s only by being there every day and seeing those things, what they learn and what they’re good at, that you can step in and do a better job of being a dad.”Challenges and boundaries But with that deeper, more constant connection came a challenge all parents will be familiar with under lockdown – maintaining work-home boundaries. “I’ve never had so many plates spinning at home before,” Sven notes, “you deal with the kids urgent needs, and your work’s urgent needs, then you try to find moments to focus on being a family – it leaves no time for yourself.” “We’re extremely fortunate to be in the situation we are in, but regardless it’s been hard in a bubble with full time jobs and full on little ones.” With no time to himself and resigned to a single building (“which has been absolutely dominated by the kids”), Sven turned to cooking as a focal point. “Before this, I didn’t cook nearly enough – I wasn’t home in time – so I decided that I would do it every night while we’re all here. It makes a nice daily focal point for the family. We do all sorts of cheesy things, asking the kids what their daily highlights were, that sort of thing, to connect. We’ve all loved that time, coming together after a busy day” Of course, it’s back to work for Sven and his wife after dinner – but even a single family meal can form a critical touchstone with so much chaos going on around us. Returning to school – lessons learned Acknowledging, of course, that Sven already has a deep appreciation for the work principals and teachers do (“Springboard volunteering is the most wonderful contribution I get to make”), there was still a lot he learned from his home schooling stint. “We know all about the role schools play in developing great humans – but this has really hit home how big a role they also play as a nucleus, as a driver of better communities.” “My kids are gagging to go back – to see their friends, teachers, just to be a part of school as a community – it's such a massive part of their identity at that age.” On top of that, there is a more practical role that Sven admits he hadn’t thought of before. “I never really appreciated how much of an enabler school is for working families. Increasingly, it takes two people working in a household to live a comfortable life – and that’s impossible without schools.” And finally, the understanding of just how exhausting it can be to teach or manage a school. “Normally I’m in a workplace of adults, who have a very different set of demands to kids. Once one of ours has an idea, they want to communicate it and engage with you directly and immediately.” “They can immediately tell if you’re not fully present too – they will not suffer fools!” “I hadn’t thought about that aspect before. I imagine it’s hard for teachers to get things done, keep learning and engagement on track for a class of 20 children, all of whom have needs and want them met right then and there. That’s probably the biggest eye-opener for me.” With home schooling done (for now) and a routine on the horizon, Sven is excited for what comes next – but not without some sorrow. “Our kids are such remarkable, resilient little creatures and having so much time together as a family has been wonderful. The kids have missed school and kindy, for sure – but it’s been replaced with something really new and interesting. I’m sure they’ll be old enough to remember ‘lockdown’ into their futures and I hope they remember our family time with fondness.” As Sven can attest, Springboard volunteers have busy schedules at the best of times – let alone in the middle of a pandemic and public shutdown. But it is in times like these that coming together and supporting communities can be most rewarding. “The cohort I’ve been working with – it's been like a beacon of hope, of people coming together who are experiencing similar challenges. Empathy is built in the trenches, and I’m glad I can do my part.”
5 min read
Case Studies

Digital donations: How a volunteer supplied schools with laptops

What’s the best way to recycle a laptop?   E-waste collections, selling on TradeMe, gifting to a friend – there are many opportunities for passing on your tech when you upgrade to something new.   But for Whangarei-based Fonterra Area Manager Neil Crowson, the option was something a little different – donating laptops to schools in need.   Relationships and resources  In 2019, Neil was a Capacity Partner in Springboard Trust’s Strategic Leadership for Principals Programme (SLPP). Working with Okaihau Primary’s principal Tim Couling, they spent 10 months of the year working together to build Tim’s strategic leadership in a schooling context.   As the programme went on, conversations turned to issues specific to those rural and remote Northland schools. Issues like funding access, families’ digital resources, and improving the tech literacy of students in the regions.   “The tech space can be a big challenge, as Northland isn’t as well-resourced a region as some other parts of the country,” Neil notes.  “It meant that when the laptop situation arose, working with these schools was the organic and clear thing to do.” A timely donation delivery Towards the end of 2019, a refresh of Fonterra’s hardware presented Neil with a fantastic opportunity.   “We had 40 laptops that we wanted to recycle, and we suggested getting them out into schools instead.”   “During the last workshop and celebration with the SLPP group, I put it to the cohort – and it went down really well.”   From there, it was a simple case of logistics. Neil asked the principals to give him some direction on how to split the laptops, and together they decided to share the devices evenly between each school in the cohort.   Carol Ashton (one of Springboard’s Programme Managers in Northland) and Neil then delivered the laptops to the schools, and work was done – as simple as that!   “It was a pretty good feeling,” Neil adds, “especially at the end of the year – it feels great to be Santa Claus.”  “And on a professional level, it’s also nice to identify an opportunity and get those devices out. It’s having an impact in schools and communities who need it, without costing anyone anything.”  How the laptops impacted Northland schools Schools often operate on very fine margins – and while the gift of laptops may have been low effort and cost, Neil found the impact it has on the ground is profound.   “The comments from principals were that this will have a big impact, particularly for struggling families who don’t have access to or the means to buy these laptops. Kids had been sharing laptops, and with roll increases that scarcity would only grow worse.”   “It really filled the gap for low decile schools that needed more resources.”  Additionally, the laptop gifting has led to more projects outside the realm of the principals’ and Capacity Partners’ interactions during SLPP.   “I had conversations with some principals who suggested assigning the laptops to senior students at their school. From there, they could partner with people from Fonterra – bring that Springboard framework into the school and foster some great coaching sessions.”  While those conversations to set up the programme are ongoing, it is a testament to the power of connection that programmes like SLPP can develop.   “You have a 10-month programme with these principals, but the benefits are far longer-lasting.”   With six schools equipped with refurbished and recycled laptops and more work in the pipeline, Neil is thrilled with the way things have turned out – and what he’s learned in return.   “When you work as a Capacity Partner, there’s an impression that you’re teaching the principal – but it’s a two-way street.”  “I took a lot of learning out of my experience, things outside my industry that taught me new theories and ways of working. It’s a great thing to be a part of, and I can’t wait to come back for my third year!”  
4 min read

Find out more about how you can help New Zealand schools

Capacity Partners

Develop a principal's strategic skills Time commitment: 40 hours (approx) across nine workshops Runs February to November In-person, virtual or blended delivery Capacity Partners are matched with a principal undertaking the Strategic Leadership for Principals Programme, meeting one-on-one with them throughout the year with through nine workshops and supporting the beginning of the principal's leadership journey with Springboard. Capacity Partners build trust, understand the needs of the principal and their context and support them in building their strategic plan and their leadership in their unique situation.   As a Capacity Partner, you will work with principals who are new to Springboard Trust and may have backgrounds, specialisations and experiences vastly different from your own. Taking the time to listen, learn and leverage your expertise to support them is critical to success.   The experienced Springboard Trust team will match you with a principal, making all the necessary introductions before the programme begins. You’ll also be part of a cohort with up to five other principals and their volunteer Capacity Partners, as well as a volunteer who will facilitate each workshop.   Who makes a great Capacity Partner?  Typically, Capacity Partners are senior leaders in their organisation, who are highly capable and skilled professionals.  Experience is typically in strategic planning, change or programme management with strong coaching skills. They may also be emerging leaders hoping to support their learning and ongoing career growth, or who want to accelerate their development in this area.   Volunteers who are also skilled and experienced in leadership or facilitation.   You’ll have experience in coaching, understand how to lead people (particularly from a strategic perspective), and grasp the core ideas of strategic planning, change management and transformation. Time Requirements Capacity Partners are asked to volunteer approximately 40 hours of their time annually, including a three-hour induction for first-time volunteers and nine half day workshops over a calendar year. Programmes typically start in February or March and have their final celebration workshops in November. Participation in the workshops is encouraged to ensure maximum learning and impact for the volunteer but also encourages the conversation and discussion that happens within the cohort.  To find out more about volunteering with Springboard Trust in 2021, please get in touch with our Volunteer Manager Rebecca Brown.


Develop and care for a full cohort of principals and volunteers, delivering a unique learning experience. Time commitment: 50-60 hours across nine workshops (SLPP) or 16 hours over 12 weeks (HPLT) Runs February to November (SLPP) or during Terms 1, 2 and 3 (HPLT) In-person, virtual or blended delivery Build your group management and leadership capabilities while bringing Springboard's programmes to life for school leaders. Facilitators work in two of our programmes – the Strategic Leadership for Principals Programme and High Performing Leadership Teams (HPLT). In the former, they work with a full cohort of six principals and volunteers, while in the latter they work with full leadership teams from a single school. While facilitating SLPP means working with principals new to Springboard, in HPLT they will be working with experienced principals (not their first Springboard programme) and their leadership teams. This presents a unique set of dynamics every time, and can be an incredibly rewarding for those who volunteer their time.   What makes a great facilitator?  Typically, facilitators we work with are middle to senior leaders in their organisations, with extensive experience in people coaching or leadership. They may also be emerging leaders looking to accelerate their development, or highly skilled individuals in this area.   The key aspects facilitator should excel in are the art of facilitation itself, the ability to bring the content to life for the participants and how they can relate it to their own unique context.  Experience working with High Performing Teams and Leadership Development helps bring the programme to life for the participants.  Facilitation of SLPP in particular, facilitators should have experience in leading teams, as well as the ability to engage large groups of people and tell stories with ease.   It is critical that facilitators have strong emotional intelligence skills as you will facilitating cohorts often in varying situations of need , and contexts you are not familiar with.  Empathy and listening skills are a must.   Please note that in most cases, we prefer Facilitators to have prior experience as a Springboard Trust Capacity Partner so they have experienced the programme from that perspective. Time requirements Facilitation volunteers for SLPP will need to volunteer 50-60 hours, including induction (for first time facilitators), across the calendar year. For HPLT, facilitators are asked to commit to up to 16 hours over a three month period. To find out more about volunteering with Springboard Trust in 2021, please get in touch with our Volunteer Manager Rebecca Brown.

Impact Coaches

Develop a rural principal's leadership. Time commitment: 40 hours (approx) across workshops and one-on-one sessions Runs February to November (approx) Support a principal between workshops at your own pace, and take part in a one-day course at the end Impact Coaches are a new role for Springboard volunteers, taking part in our Strategic Leadership for Rural Teaching Principals Programme (SLRTP).   They work with an assigned school principal who performs multiple roles both in their school and in their close-knit wider community. The challenges these principals face are often very different from their metropolitan counterparts, and the Impact Coach role is designed with this in mind.  What an Impact Coach does   Throughout SLRTP, Impact Coaches work with their principal in our blended learning environment, encompassing both in-person workshops and virtual sessions. These volunteers will:   Support principals with the SLRTP course  Listen to, empower and challenge principals with empathy Help principals structure their thinking and build leadership capability and capacity Ensure principals meet key milestones through the course Provide support to their principal outside the block courses that Springboard presents   This is a unique programme in New Zealand, with little to no other programming specifically working with – and for – rural teaching principals. It is a special opportunity for volunteers to make a difference in communities that need it the most.   Who makes a great Impact Coach?   Typically, our Impact Coaches are senior professionals with extensive leadership experience and who demonstrate the utmost empathy, willingness to listen and ability to challenge and support others.  They take part in SLRTP for 12 months, attending in-person and online workshops through, while also connecting with their principal directly.   Previous experience volunteering with Springboard is not required.   To find out more about volunteering with Springboard Trust in 2021, please get in touch with our Volunteer Manager Rebecca Brown.


Ongoing support and one-on-one coaching with school leaders. Time commitment: 10 hours (approx) Runs in each of Term 1, 2 and 3 each school year Support and feedback through a 360-degree feedback process Volunteer coaches work in the Springboard Coaching for Leadership programme, building an individual principal’s leadership insight, capability and practice – all with the goal of them successfully leading their school to better student outcomes and delivery to their strategic plan. You could be working with alumni principals, their leadership teams or their middle leaders.  What makes a good coach?  Our coaching volunteers are typically senior or middle leaders in their organisation, with extensive people coaching experience . They may also be emerging leaders, looking to accelerate their development but still have a core capability to coach and development others  Due to the advanced nature of the SCL programme, Coaches should be highly skilled in the usual areas of requirement: coaching, leadership development and planning, accredited or experienced in debriefing 360-degree surveys and analysis, as well as in-depth emotional intelligence.   Time requirements Coaching volunteers will have to spend at least 10 hours on the HPL programme, over a 90-day period (a single school term).   To find out more about volunteering with Springboard Trust in 2021, please get in touch with our Volunteer Manager Rebecca Brown.

Subject Matter Experts

Bespoke support and development for school leaders Time commitment: Variable, anything from an hour to ongoing long-term support Work in existing programmes, deliver single sessions or support a leadership team The Subject Matter Expert (SME) role is a flexible opportunity to support school leaders as they take on a bespoke project built around their strategic plan.   This might be assisting them at a Kickstart Your Strategy workshop, helping them review an annual plan, giving a one-hour webinar for a cohort, or simply sitting down with a principal and/or their team to help them clarify goals for the year ahead. What makes a good Subject Matter Expert? SMEs are typically senior leaders in their organisation, and have a wide range of expertise, including but not limited to:  Change management  Strategic leadership  Instructional design and leadership  Project management  Transformation projects  Coaching  Strategy analysis and refresh Marketing, branding and communication  Depending on the project, we may require more specialist skill sets for principal support. We would ideally prefer SMEs to have previously worked with Springboard as a Capacity Partner.   Time requirements Due to the variability of the work SMEs do, requirements may vary. Setting up a project usually takes 8-10 hours, while implementation may be anywhere from four hours to 50, across three to 12 months. However, this role is also ideal for those who have only an hour or two of their time to contribute. To find out more about volunteering with Springboard Trust in 2021, please get in touch with our Volunteer Manager Rebecca Brown.

Our Partners