Successful teacher finds her true calling
In her pre-NumberWorks’nWords days, Sheils Carnihan held a number of senior primary education roles in New Zealand before moving overseas to teach. When Sheils and her husband returned home, she tried her hand at business then chose to return to education, as either a principal or deputy.
Finding the future
Sheils took a relieving principal position in the South Island, but the experience convinced her she was chasing the wrong career. Unsure of what she did want to do, she saw an advertisement for the position of manager at NumberWorks’nWords in Lower Hutt.
“The minute I set foot in a NumberWorks’nWords, I knew I’d found what I’d been looking for all these years,” says Sheils. “It was just the whole feel of what they were doing.”
Building experience in the business
Sheils was appointed manager of the Lower Hutt franchise. Completely sold on the concept, a year and a term later she set up her own franchise at Paraparaumu on the Kapiti Coast.
“The time I spent as manager of the Lower Hutt franchise was invaluable. I was able to learn the systems while still earning an income,” explains Sheils. “I also managed to double the roll in one year, so I knew I could make a success of my own place.”
Setting up her centre
Sheils chose a location for her centre with help from Maurice and Anne Smith, the owners of NumberWorks’nWords. They analysed population projections, demographics, school deciles and travelling times to narrow down the choices. In the end they selected Kapiti, because it offered what they were looking for. Then Sheils swung into action.
“The first thing we did was look for the right premises. It took a while but we felt the right location and atmosphere were important fundamentals.”
The next step was to prepare a business case for the bank. Armed with three scenarios (worst-case, most-likely and best-case), Sheils headed to the bank for the finance she needed to get things underway.
“I thought I’d probably achieve the middle estimate,” explains Sheils. “But by the time we got to the end of the first year I’d surpassed even my highest estimate. It was a wonderful feeling.”
Investing in the future
Sheils says her business experience taught to invest in what matters, rather than skimp.
“I pay my tutors well and if I’m going to invest in something I get the best. My centre looks fabulous because it has all the right stuff in it,” she says. “I’ve also invested a lot of time in the community, particularly with the local business group, Business Network International.”
The backing of great learning systems
As an experienced educator, Sheils is often asked what she thinks of the NumberWorks’nWords learning systems.
“I think the learning systems are absolutely brilliant. I’ve worked in quite a number of schools and seen some amazing programmes,” she explains. “I used to dream of somebody having the time to pull them all together into one place so we could all use them, but it never seemed to happen.”
Sheils really enjoys not having to spend time planning the work. She can focus on identifying the goals for each child and then select the appropriate sections from the Numberworks’nWords programme.
“You’re not wasting valuable teaching time planning new programmes and trying to find resources,” explains Sheils. “It’s all there, it’s well balanced and you know it will be effective.”
Sheils reassures parents that NumberWorks’nWords helps with the ‘academic stuff’ really well. But she also explains that the best thing it does is build their child’s confidence and self-belief.
Even parents who are struggling financially tell Sheils it’s worth every cent, because their child or grandchild loves coming along and gains so much confidence out of being here.
“We change kids’ lives. That’s what I love about it. They go back to school and perform really well.”
"The minute I set foot in a NumberWorks'nWords, I knew I'd found what I'd been looking for all these years"