Profile: Carolyn Cornu Principal at Pukekohe Christian School


What attracted you to Pukekohe Christian School?

Pukekohe Christian School allows me to bring my whole-self to the role of school leadership; where I’ve been in leadership before, I’ve had to leave my faith at the gate.  Here it is a part of every aspect of our work.  Joining the team at Pukekohe Christian School is a professional opportunity for me to serve Christ and partner with families to grow young people who live Christ-honouring lives with a mission-heart. 

How would you describe Pukekohe Christian School?

The sun hasn’t stopped shining on PCS this term!  It is a beautiful physical space to work in and the staff and students are warm, welcoming and generous in their support of me as I transition into the role.  PCS is growing quickly and is a popular choice in our community. 

What do you hope to achieve through your leadership at Pukekohe Christian School?

I’m super excited about building educationally powerful connections between home and school, where educators partner with families to support quality education. 

Building capabilities across the teams of educators in the school is also something I’m passionate about.  As the school gets bigger, the function of team-work becomes more and more important.

What are your future ambitions for Pukekohe Christian School?

I’m looking forward to consolidating the growth that the school has experienced in recent years; supporting the school through developing the systems and processes that a larger school needs for smooth operation.  I’m also excited about reinforcing mission for our students in our local community. 

I want to build sustainability of this growth into our future, so that we have the resources and responsiveness to welcome continued growth, while maintaining the pastoral care, and quality academic outcomes which draw families to our school. 

When I think of the future, I think of it in terms that we don’t lose any of the characteristics and foundation that we were established upon. 

Describe the pathway your career has followed.

My career began as an assistant teacher in secondary English at a local secondary school.  Opportunities opened up for me to develop leadership skills and I picked up responsibilities within the English Department and through to Assistant Principal and most recently Deputy Principalship.  Last year, I was on study leave to work towards the completion of my Master in Educational Leadership at Te Whare o Waikato – The University of Waikato.  The focus of my research was in the emotional wellbeing of deputy principals in New Zealand secondary schools. 

Were there enlightening moments or inspirational people who set you on your way to a career in education?

I had a wonderful education through Piopio Primary and Piopio College, in the King Country.  Wonderful teachers inspired me all the way along, helping me see that teaching was the vocation for me.  I had a wonderful piano teacher in Te Kuiti who reinforced a general love for learning and achieving goals.  These people taught me that we must never underestimate the impact we have as educators on our young people, their families and the community as a whole, both now and into the future.

How would you describe your leadership philosophy?

Relational.  All conversations are made easier where relationship is nurtured.  Similarly, all great learning and development takes place when it is nestled in genuine relationship.  I’d like to think I lead with that principle guiding my actions and intentions.

Can you share your thoughts about independent education - in New Zealand and internationally?

Independent education allows a community greater autonomy over the character and curriculum of their school.  The choice it provides within a community is something we should protect. 

What do you see as the benefits of working at an independent school?

The special character of our school allows our staff to be true to their spiritual identity and reach students in their teaching on this level also.  Independence provides integrity to one’s identity as a teacher and staff member.  This is essential for wellbeing, and we are permitted to nurture that every day.

What do you see as the benefits for students of attending an independent school?

Students are benefiting from our independent school in many ways, but I think it allows students to focus on their goals and development in front of them.  At PCS, they are being given a nurtured space to strengthen their faith before they enter the world to be witnesses to Christ’s love for others.  An independent school allows us the freedom to pursue spiritual development as part of the whole student.