When the bell rings to signal the end of term next Friday afternoon, it will also signal the end for one of the Mudgee region's longest serving educators.
Alan Kerr, Principal of Mudgee Public School, is retiring after a 37-year association with the school.
"I have had a very special career in public education," Mr Kerr said.
After first teaching at Mudgee Public in 1983 and spending another 12 years there as a classroom teacher, Mr Kerr also held positions as principal at Ilford, Rylstone and Kandos. In the 1980s, he was also program director at the Lake Burrendong Sport and Recreation Centre.
"I have been fortunate to have worked with some excellent teachers and support staff during that time," he said. Having worked in the region for such a length of time has also given Mr Kerr the opportunity to see his students grow into adulthood. Many of his ex- students now have their own children at Mudgee Public.
"Seeing children grow and develop is certainly the most rewarding part of being a Principal," he said. When asked for some career highlights Mr Kerr reflected on his time at Ilford and the band he and local guitar teacher Bob Burns created, The Acca Daccas.
''We had one fellow who owned an electric guitar so I thought we'd start a rock band given the small number of students at Ilford," Mr Kerr said. "We played at a concert in Mudgee and received a great reaction so we kept going from there. Two years later the band won a competition with a Sydney radio station and we all went to Sydney to record a song at INXS's Surry Hills studio as the prize. What a great experience for the students."
Mr Kerr is also highly respected amongst his principal peers, this year the Chair of the NSW Primary Principals' Association Rural Education Committee, working for the betterment of students, teachers and principals across rural NSW. To recognise his work, he will receive the rare honour of Life Membership at the State Conference in October.
But Mr Kerr's career hasn't been without its setbacks.
In 1996, his then wife Linda was tragically killed in an accident leaving Mr Kerr with his two young children, Xanthe and Jordan to care for. Some 23 years later, Xanthe is now happily married and following her parents' footsteps as a teacher in Port Macquarie whilst Jordan is based in Canberra, and in 2016 was named Canberra's Young Citizen of the Year.
Mr Kerr married Melanie Trethowan in 2001 and travel appears high on their agenda.
"We've booked for Everest Base Camp next year so there could also be lots of training in the lead up," he said. "But Mudgee will remain our home. I'll still get to see the students of Mudgee Public grow into adulthood and embrace life's challenges."