Beloved principal Kay Thurston will retire on Friday after decades of teaching in schools across the Riverina.
Mrs Thurston has been principal of Lake Albert Public School for the past four years, and feels as if her teaching journey has come full-circle.
"My first prac I actually did was here at Lake Albert," she said.
"I've done a full cycle; I started and ended my career here."
Mrs Thurston's first permanent teaching position was in Queensland, but every job she has had since then has been in the Riverina. Beginning at Illabo Public, she went on to teach at Junee Public, Turvey Park, Kooringal, Kapooka, Junee North and finally Lake Albert.
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For the Wagga-raised principal, building a relationship with students has always been her number one priority.
"At the end of the day, whether you're a teacher or whether you work in admin, we are here for those students," Mrs Thurston said.
"If children are happy and wanting to come to school, then everything else will fall into place.
"I'm all about making children feel safe, feel welcome and feel like they belong."
Mrs Thurston has always known she wanted to be a teacher, and said it's important for her to spend time in the playground and greet students at the school gate before class.
"That way they know that I care," she said.
"For some kids they mightn't have that in their home life, but I've always been there for kids and for me it's the most important thing."
On her second last day at Lake Albert, the entire school donned their best 80's themed clothing to give Mrs Thurston a fun send-off.
The theme payed homage to her 20 years as an aerobics' teacher, as well as the fact that her teaching career began in the 80's.
Students and teachers gathered for morning assembly when a flash mob broke out, and tunes like YMCA played over the speakers for everyone to dance to.
It's hard for Mrs Thurston to pinpoint specific favourite moments from her career, but a standout has been watching the growth of individual students.
"At the start of the year they might be struggling, they might have behavioural issues, and it's great to see them come out the other end feeling confident," she said.
As for what's next, Mrs Thurston's first grandchild was born recently, so she will be spending as much time with her family as possible.
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