Time to pursue a dream

Issue: Volume 96, Number 9

Posted: 29 May 2017
Reference #: 1H9dDm

Vicki Lee Wihongi is a dean at Hamilton’s Fraser High School and last year received a TeachNZ Study Award to complete a Master of Counselling qualification. She talks to Education Gazette about why she loves her work, and why she would recommend that other teachers apply for a study award or sabbatical.

What motivated you to apply for a TeachNZ Study Award, and what did you research?

It started when I was part way through completing my Master of Education degree at the University of Waikato a few years ago. I had found the mediation and guidance components of that degree particularly interesting and enjoyable, and working with students in this way proved a good fit with my communication skills.

The head of guidance counselling at my school, Gay Summers, said I should seriously consider pursuing the field. I hadn’t actually thought about undertaking a qualification in counselling until she said that, but I had been thinking about stepping sideways and seeing what else I could do in education, and I remember thinking, “Well, I’m already in the learning mode, so I guess I can keep going for a bit longer!”

I don’t think I would have done it on my own. It was with her encouragement and guidance that I decided to give it a go.

Receiving a TeachNZ Study Award last year gave me the time to complete my Master of Counselling qualification.

What is it about counselling that resonates with you?

For me, it’s about creating a particular kind of space for my students when I’m working with them. I love being able to control the culture of what we do.

Because I work in a large school, as a guidance counsellor I have an opportunity to work with a smaller group of students or with individuals, and I’m able to develop a restorative culture for my students to work within.

I like having the chance to develop good relationships with individual students, and to help them by creating a good environment and context they can really feel comfortable in.

What inspired you to be a teacher in the first place?

Even though I’ve now moved into the counselling field, I still absolutely love teaching. My school has been very supportive of my study, and I was able to do some part-time teaching work when I was studying for my Master of Education degree.

The main thing I love about teaching is the chance to work with young people – I love their energy and their potential. I also love their creativity and just the goodness that’s in them. Despite the world, and the environment that many children grow up in, there’s so much hope in our young people.

What would you say to fellow teachers thinking of applying for a study award?

I would most definitely encourage other teachers to apply for one of these awards.In my application I wrote that I would not be able to finish my qualification without the study leave, because it involves hundreds of hours of practicum work.

I kind of pleaded with the board to give me the opportunity, and I’m so grateful they did.

If you are thinking about taking time out to do some study, receiving this award will mean that time will be much less stressful and more enjoyable. It allows you to focus completely on your study.

Take time out for a 2018 TeachNZ study award or sabbatical

Applications are now open. Please check the 2017 closing dates as they will differ, depending on whether you are an area, secondary or primary school.

The Ministry of Education is committed to supporting the professional development of teachers and principals.

The TeachNZ Study Awards are part of the negotiated union collective agreements which provide paid study leave to complete part-time or full-time study in an educational priority area. The length of study leave awarded is based on your proposed study. Sabbaticals give teachers and principals the opportunity to spend three, five or 10 weeks completing a professional learning activity, and a chance for reflection and rejuvenation.

Area schools and secondary schools

Closing date for applications is Tuesday 6 June 2017.

A total of 29 study awards and sabbaticals for area teachers and principals are available.

  • 7 full-time teacher equivalent (FTTE) Area Teachers Study Awards (AT) – closes 13 June
  • 12 Area Teachers Sabbaticals (ATS)
  • 10 FTTE Area Principals Sabbaticals (APS)

A total of 175 Study Awards and Sabbaticals for secondary teachers, principals and managers are available.

  • 75 FTTE Secondary Teachers Study Awards (ST) – closes 13 June
  • 50 Secondary Teachers Sabbaticals (STS)
  • 40 FTTE Secondary Principals Sabbaticals (SPS)
  • 10 Secondary Senior Managers Sabbaticals (SSMS)

Primary schools

A total of 230 Study Awards and Sabbaticals for primary teachers and primary principals and managers are available.

Closing date for applications is Monday 3 July 2017.

  • 50 Primary Teachers Sabbaticals are available (PTS)
  • 105 Primary Principals Sabbaticals are available (PPS)
  • 75 FTTE Primary Teachers and Principals Study Awards are available (PT)

To apply now and for more information, go to the TeachNZ website(external link) 

The Study Support Grants will open next month.

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero, reporter@edgazette.govt.nz

Posted: 6:41 pm, 29 May 2017

Get new listings like these in your email
Set up email alerts