As thousands of Illawarra children head back to school this week, spare a thought for the region's six new principals who are likely to be just as nervous and excited as their pupils.
Former Gerringong Public School assistant principal Jacqueline Piggott will take the helm at Lake Illawarra South Public School, a role she said would be exciting and challenging in the face of a fast-evolving education system.
"Education is changing, we're on this really big wave of change right now," she said.
"Over the next three years, we're going to see the way we run schools will be different, the way we educate kids is constantly changing and the influence of technology is so big as well."
Ms Piggott's new school is one of 229 across NSW taking part in a federal-state funding partnership, which means it will immediately feel the effects of state education reforms where principals are given more control over their budgets and staff.
"There's lots of challenges and changes coming with [the reforms] but it's a great opportunity for us as teachers and for public education as well," Ms Piggott said.
"My vision is to have a school that is open and a place where kids are excited about learning."
Ms Piggott is one of six principals in the Illawarra and South Coast region who will join more than 60 first-time principals state-wide.
She said pupils would be at the centre of every decision she made in the role and advised them to embrace the "fresh new beginning" of the school year.
"For the little ones who are starting kindergarten, they should know that their teachers are very caring people and want what's best for them," she said.
"It can be very nerve-racking at first because you can be really nervous going into the unknown, but just embrace it and take every opportunity that comes along."