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Preston bids farewell to Tamworth Public

Posted by on 18/07/2018

GOODBYE AND GOODLUCK: Tamworth Public School principal Lee Preston was farewelled by his adoring students with a guard of honour. Photo:Gareth Gardner 161216GGA01LEE Preston first stepped foot in a classroom more than 40 years ago.

On Friday, he was given a guard of honour ashe tookhis first stepsinto retirement.

It’s theend of an era for the Tamworth Public School principal, who left with mixed emotions.But if there’s one thing for sure, he says he’ll becatching up on plenty of sleep.

Mr Preston has spent fourdecades shaping young lives, with only a couple of breaks in between.

He was a principalfor 26 of those years and has spent 12 yearsat Tamworth Public School, which backwhen he started, was a very different place.

“Tamworth Public School had a lot less enrollment when I came,” he said.

“It had been through some tough times, it had a previous principal who died and certainly there was a lot of emotional stress in the school community and for reasons that nobody could do anything about.

“We had a rebuilding phase, and itwas great working with the community and the community that wanted to work with a new principal and make things great for kids again.”

In his time at the school, Mr Preston said he is most proud of student achievements and is encouraged by watching his students grow;from those who arrive with little reading comprehension to the progress they make to sound out words.

“They are the wonderful things and milestones we take in,” he said.

Many of the school’sstaff and students were on hand to farewell their leader on Friday, with an assembly, guard of honour and morning tea hosted by the school’s P&C committee.

“I’m feeling mixed emotions;exhilarated because of the time I’ve had herebut sad because Icertainly will miss it a lot. It’s been a big part of my life,” Mr Preston said.

“There’s an old saying that you should get out while they still want you and I think the community might still want me, so it’s time to go.

“I felt it was the right time to go, the school is in a very good place, it’s a wonderful school. I certainly have valued what I’ve done here but I’m not getting any younger.”

One of the greatest challenges of his career, he said, was adapting to social change.“Keeping up with social change and keeping it moderated at the school level,” he said.

“There’s a lot of change out there that happens that we can’t do anything about. The challenge is moderating it and dealing with it in an effective way, standing back at times and seeing what you need to do and what’s going to be best for your community.”

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