STAWELL Secondary College principal Carlos Lopez will finish his tenure at the school at the end of 2021.
The leader said he would miss the interaction with the students and the Stawell community as he embarks on his next adventure in life.
"Everybody is sometimes over critical of their own community and sometimes I think Stawell does have its challenges but in terms of support I've had from the school community is probably something I will miss the most," he said.
"I'm a sea creature and I've been land-locked for the past 10 years. The Wimmera is a magical place for both me and my family. It's been a great learning experience in learning how regional Australia operates and the values that they maintain.
"From my point of view, I just need some saltwater. I was born 10 metres from the sea and lived all my life near the ocean.
"Some people say I can just go to the lakes but it's just not quite the same for me. Stawell has been a tough experience for me on a personal and professional level - I just think I need the calming influence of saltwater for my personal well-being."
Mr Lopez said when initially put into the role at Stawell, it was never for a long term position.
"The region did mention there were some issues that needed to be addressed as an organisation due to leadership turnover in a short period of time," he said.
"The school needed a bit of guidance. I was only going to step in for the first term, in 2019, as acting principal but I felt very committed, very quickly to the students of Stawell.
"I have come from a disadvantaged background and I found some of the equity issues from students were akin to the challenges I faced as a student as well.
"My role evolved, and I decided to apply for the principal role and sharpen up the aspects of the school that needed improvement.
"The right ingredients were there to create a very successful regional school. Some of the systems and processes weren't sharp enough to really make sure students were getting the most out of their regional setting."
Mr Lopez said it was difficult to turn a school around in a short period of time, and cultural change can take years to see out.
Many factors impact the decision to move on from the school which Mr Lopez said will always hold a special place in his heart.
"Early on when I was bringing members of leadership from the department they would always make comments about Stawell students who are forward - but very polite and appropriate - but they will have their say," he said.
"And I am really proud of that. I'm proud that they will get more of a say now on what they are getting out of their education.
"I'm proud of our leadership team who has been able to really implement some major changes, culture-wise, within the school. Also been able to manage a massive project like the building project that is going to transform the school - but keep the heritage value of the site as well."
Mr Lopez wished to thank the Stawell community for embracing him and said he would miss the students and staff at the Secondary School immensely.
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