Senior leaders are crucial and so is their wellbeing
Principals and senior leaders have been crucial in ensuring schooling could continue through the Covid-19 pandemic, but what has this meant for their wellbeing?
PPTA Te Wehengarua has partnered with Deakin University in research on principal and senior leader wellbeing and we are calling for members to take part.
The research is confidential and is being conducted via an online survey you can access here:
Introducing Annette Wynyard
In this issue PPTA Te Wehengarua member Annette Wynyard shares her journey to and experiences of senior leadership.
Annette is deputy principal pastoral at Bay of Islands College in Kawakawa Northland. She was born at Kawakawa hospital and raised at Moerewa, a busy and thriving community.
“Education did not suit me at that time and I left at the tender age of 14.5 years old, only to return in the early 1990s as an adult student to pursue Te Reo Māori through the Te Ataarangi revitalisation movement,” she said.
Annette then moved onto the Te Kura Kaupapa Māori teacher training course at Epsom, while simultaneously completing a Bachelor of Education at Auckland University.
“I was a teaching principal at the Kura Kaupapa Māori o Taumarere when my brother George Wynyard called me to come and teach with him here at our old school, the Bay of Islands College and hello, 25 years later I am still here,” she said.
A natural progression
Annette says her transition to senior leadership was well-timed. She spend five years teaching Te Reo Māori me Ona Tikanga, became a middle manager as head of the Māori department and has been in her current role for the past 10 years.
“My mentors along the way were my brother George, my sister Evelyn Tobin and very dear and treasured friends Alan Forgie (ex-Okaihau College) and Simon McGown (Opua School). Their nurturing and guiding support has been crucial to my own growth and development as a school leader,” she said.
Annette decided to pursue a leadership role because it seemed like a natural progression and she enjoyed the challenges that came with taking on more responsibility in the roles.
Education is all about change
“Education is all about change and constantly keeping pace with society’s demands while supporting our young people to make the right choices and decisions for themselves moving into the world after secondary schooling,” she said.
“Being a senior leader at our college enables me to keep a finger on the pulse of our kids, communities, board and all other stakeholders’ dreams and aspirations for the future and it is exciting to be a part of that.”
There are many challenges associated with leadership roles in schools, Annette says.
“The wellbeing of your students and staff is paramount and we are answerable to our board and communities every step along the way.”
I cannot think of a job better than this one
“Having a passion for what we do is the bedrock of our existence as educators,” Annette says.
“Some days may not be the greatest, yet others will come along and remind you of why we do what we do with a passion. When you run into ex-students who stop and catch up with life in general, it is such a reward, especially in small towns such as ours.
“Other rewards are just enjoying the students in front of you, whether good or otherwise. It is a great thing spending five years with young people and watching the transformation from Year 9 through to Year 13 before they tip out and head off down life’s pathways. Then you turn around and do it all again year after yar. I cannot think of a better job than this one.”
Pandemic showed importance of support networks
The Covid-19 pandemic has made the importance of wellbeing and support networks apparent; Annette says.
“Never has it been more apparent what we as a school, a country and indeed the world has been going through this year. It certainly has highlighted the need to support, care and look after each other in order to survive and carry on.
“Our staff have been amazing, resilient and steadfast in keeping our ship afloat. So too have the students, their parents and the wider communities here in Northland, “she said.
“We all know that this is a very long road we are walking, but we are all mindful of everything that is happening around us and through it all we will work together to stay safe, happy and keep our school going for the sake of our students and their futures.”
Find good mentors
If there was any advice Annette could give other teachers contemplating taking on a senior leadership role it would be to find good mentors and role models and learn well from them.
“Stay steadfast in your beliefs and also keep your passion for teaching at the forefront of what you do on a daily basis. The administrative workload of being a senior leader is always going to be cumbersome and sometimes never ending, but that’s just the nature of the beast. Keep a balance in your life and interests outside and don’t sweat the small stuff,” she said.