Sue Kearns has had a very rewarding career as both a teacher and a principal in the Lithgow and Portland region.
She is now being recognised for 35 years of service to the community.
Mrs Kearns was inspired by one of her primary school teachers to become a teacher herself one day, and when she finally did, that particular teacher was there for her, all those years later.
"When I first started working as a primary teacher in Lithgow, she became my supervisor," Mrs Kearns said.
Mrs Kearns has always worked around the region, never looking to go elsewhere.
"I grew up in Wallerawang, and then I married someone who worked at the power station, so I had found my home in this area," she said.
After full time teaching with the Department of Education at the beginning of her career in both Lithgow and Portland, Mrs Kearns began her work at St Joseph's as a casual teacher in 1981.
She then moved into a part time position at St Joseph's for four more years before she accepted a full time position in 1986.
After working with three principals in the school, Mrs Kearns decided she wanted to give it her best shot and in 2000 became principal of St Joseph's.
"I thought it would benefit me and that I could do more for the school by being principal than through teaching," she said.
Mrs Kearns has had a lot of career highlights in her time as principal, including getting commendations for her 20 and 30 years of teaching.
"One big achievement for the school was our big centenary in 2005 where the town was brought together," she said.
One particular program Mrs Kearns said she was proud of was the swimming program the school has run for the past 15 years.
"It started out as a way to help save the Portland pool, and a way for the children to do something they love," she said.
"I also wanted to make sure that every child who left this school was water safe."
Mrs Kearns said she enjoyed interacting with the children and having watched them grow and change from when they first started to school to when they leave for high school.
"We also put on a musical every second year and I really enjoy them in the school," she said.
Mrs Kearns said one of the hardest things she had encountered as principal was going through the decline in teachers and students in the school.
"We lost a teacher and then a lot of students and that was very hard," she said.
The school currently has 38 students with three full time teachers and three part time.
"Being the principal of a small school isn't any easier than a big school, we just face challenges on a different scale," she said.
Mrs Kearns said the school was "more like a family".
"Teaching composite classes means students could be in your care for more than a year, so that allows you to work with them and take ownership of that learning," she said.
"You find you have a responsibility to make a difference."
Mrs Kearns hoped to continue the high level of learning provided at St Joseph's.
"I want the students to continue caring for each other and looking after each other in society and not to become adults who only think of themselves," she said.
"We want to teach them that they can make a difference in the world today."
While Mrs Kearns hit a big milestone in 35 years of working in education, she doesn't see it lasting much longer.
"I think it's time to pass it on, I've been working on my succession plan and I'm just getting ready to leave the school in the right place," she said.
"I can say I've done my bit, and I hope the ideals I've installed in the school can continue on."
She said she has worked with some wonderful people in the Catholic Education system, including teachers, sisters and priests.
"I'm most thankful for the wonderful students who have passed through this school," she said.
"It is a unique place this school, we work with children in a way that prepares them for success in society.
"It's a safe place, a family place that makes kids appreciate things that matter in life."
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