IT WAS a bitter sweet end to the 2018 school year for Stuart Bott.
The Kyabram P-12 College principal, who has been a fixture in the education of hundreds of local students, will not return for the 2019 school year.
Mr Bott will take on the top job at Leopold Primary School, an 800 student campus near Geelong.
Starting as principal of the amalgamated Kyabram P-12 College in 2010, Mr Bott originally moved with his family to Kyabram to fill the assistant principal role at Haslem St Primary School in 1998.
Previously holding positions at schools in Quambatook, Tanjil South and Mitiamo, Mr Bott took the Haslem St role to learn from former principal Ivan White before becoming principal in 2003.
“It’s very difficult leaving,” Mr Bott said.
“I’ve developed so many relationships with students, parents and staff through the years and that’s the bit I will miss the most.
“But with that sadness comes a sense of pride. I’m proud of the relationships I have built and maintained through the years and I think they will prosper into the future.”
Mr Bott said the merger to create what is now Kyabram P-12 College was one of the most challenging parts of his tenure.
“Having three schools come together was certainly challenging,” he said.
“There were a lot of things that had to be worked through and that involved a lot of consultation and patience from all involved.
“It was tough but I think it galvanised the school community and reset the direction we were heading by setting common goals.”
Mr Bott said working with the Education Department has become much easier as the school’s budget has increased over recent years.
“The department, as a whole, has become more focused and we are all working towards the same thing,” he said.
“I’m pleased the school and the department are on the same page as to what direction we are heading. That’s something that will be beneficial for the school into the future.”
While his role at the school would be missed, Mr Bott said he was thankful for the community’s support during his time.
“I want to thank everyone for welcoming myself and my family into the region,” he said.
“They have been very supportive and it’s been a great town for my wife and I to raise our daughters.
“I feel privileged to have had the opportunity.”