Waringstown Primary School Principal Gary Kennedy will retire from the school at the end of this academic year.
He announced his retirement to staff on Friday and sent a letter to parents explaining the reasons for his decision to leave the school after 23 years as principal.
Mr Kennedy, who came to Waringstown after eight years as principal at Annaghmore Primary School and six years as a teacher at Hart Memorial Primary School, said: “It is my intention to retire as principal of Waringstown Primary School from August 31, 2014.
“In a few weeks from that date I will celebrate my 60th birthday and after giving it much consideration I feel content in making this difficult and emotional decision.
“I find it hard to believe that I have completed 23 years as principal and throughout those glorious years I have received the maximum loyalty and respect from all the parents who have entrusted me with the education of their children, which I have always seen as a privilege and have never taken for granted.
“I shall cherish the lovely memories of their happy faces and boundless energy.”
He added: “As leaders we play a pivotal role. The job is highly complex, demanding and stressful and after 37 years – 31 of them as a principal - I still have a feeling of awe and humility.
“I am deeply privileged to have worked hard to try and improve the experience and life chances of our children.
“The job I do is highly prized and among the best vocation one could have – quality engagement in and with children and staff and helping them to be the best they can be.”
The Chairman, Mr Robin Morrison and Board of Governors of Waringstown Primary School expressed their gratitude to Mr Kennedy for the 23 years of outstanding leadership. He went on to state that Mr Kennedy would be greatly missed in the wider Waringstown community but wished him a long and well-deserved retirement.
Ulster Unionist MLA Jo-Anne Dobson paid tribute to the outgoing principal. She said: “Gary Kennedy was a principal who always put the pupils of Waringstown first.
“His dedication and devotion to the children in his care was, and remains, second to none.
“I was proud to stand side-by-side with Gary when the fantastic new nursery unit opened its doors and know this is due in no small measure to his efforts and hard work.”
The Ulster Unionist MLA added: “As both my two boys, first Elliott and then Mark, were pupils at the school I know first-hand how Gary helped and inspired them and that their time with him has shaped their lives.”