The principal of Walla Walla's St Paul's College is retiring at the end of next term to pursue interests in palliative care counselling and hospitality, after what will be five years at the helm of the school.
Principal Don Walkley arrived at St Paul's at the end of 2016 after working as an interim assistant director at Lutheran Education in Melbourne.
Mr Walkley said he was surprised to discover the rural school was "an oasis of learning and teaching" when he first arrived at the school.
"The curriculum is so engaging and so full of opportunity," he said.
"Pre-COVID the kids were out and about and doing all sorts of stuff.
"We have an awesome, many awesome processes to support student wellbeing and staff well being...everyone feels connected and there a great atmosphere around the school."
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Earlier this month, Mr Walkley announced he would retire at the end of the school year and move back to Melbourne to be closer to family.
"I am exploring a couple of things that have been on my mind for a while, I'd like to go back and do some work in hospitality," he said.
"I'd also like to do some training as a counselor in a palliative care ward in a hospital.
"I hope I'm busy, but it's time to do some of those things that have been on the back burner for a while."
School board chairman Anthony Lieschke said the recruitment process was already underway for the next principal of the school.
He said the school would soon be advertising the position, but he was unsure how hard it would be to recruit a new principal.
"We're not sure with this COVID business and that in the background," he said.
"Walla is certainly moving forward.
"We'd like to think our school would be an attractive proposition for someone to step up to the task and we like to think it wont be too difficult, we'd like to think we'd get a few applicants."
Mr Lieschke said Mr Walkley had overseen a number of important achievements.
"Don's certainly bought a new lease of life to the college," he said.
"He's been able to improve the numbers, certainly stabilise I think the whole college environment and he's also been able to move the college forward with buildings, we've been able to do some major building projects."
Mr Lieschke said Mr Walkley had also implemented strong governance to improve school safety and had forged new relationships with other schools in the district.
"We're going to miss Don," he said. "We're very appreciative of what he's been able to do with the college."
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