St John Bosco's principal will end 18 years of service at the school on her 67th birthday in December.
Marie Barrett is in her last week of school holidays before starting the longest holiday of her career so far when she retires from teaching at the end of next term.
Mrs Barrett says it has been 48 years since she first started teaching and she knew the time had come for the school to have a fresh face.
There have been mixed emotions over the past few months for Mrs Barrett and she says leaving the kids will be the biggest challenge of all.
Mrs Barrett describes the school as her "baby" and was thrilled when she was appointed principal despite no previous management roles.
"I got frustrated with the systems after leaving teaching for a while to have a family," she said.
"I wanted a school of my own to develop my own ideas and was so excited to be chosen for the role."
She continued teaching for seven years while principal but admits it was hard to juggle the workload.
Under Mrs Barrett's leadership St Joseph's Opunake principal Dee Luckin experienced his first four years teaching and will now return to the school to take over from his mentor.
"We've done a bit of a circle because he left here to go to St Joseph's and that is the same school I came from when I got the job here at St John Bosco all those years ago," she said.
"Dee has the drive and philosophy that suits the school and will very clearly fit in well here when he takes over next year."
Mrs Barrett plans to spend some of her spare time with her 10 grandchildren but also hopes to continue helping families struggling with their children's learning.
"I don't want to retire as such and hopefully there will be a new opportunity out there for me to keep working with children and their families," she said.
"I'd hate to think so many years of learning and training would just go to waste."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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