Leading the Diocese of Wollongong to "perhaps" the fastest growing Catholic school system in NSW is one of many highlights for departing director of schools Peter Turner.
Mr Turner ends his 45 years of service and leadership in Catholic Education with "mixed feelings".
He has especially enjoyed the "last 13 great years" working at the Wollongong Catholic education office.
Mr Turner has also felt privileged to have worked with Bishop of Wollongong, Brian Mascord and his predecessor Bishop Peter Ingham.
"They are very significantly pastoral men who care about people and really value Catholic education. I've had great partnerships with both men," he said.
Mr Turner is also proud to have played a part in the diocese's significant enrolment growth.
"When I first came to the diocese, our enrolment growth had sort of flattened out but in the last few years we've become perhaps the fastest growing Catholic school system in NSW. We've grown by over 4000 students in the last six or seven years," he said.
"But the major highlight for me is that our schools are just really great schools. We've had significant improvement in our learning data and our young people are being well educated.
"I think our schools are really good schools and I'm very proud of that. But I want that for all young people and I think all teachers and people who work in schools of any type are really dedicated, committed people and I admire them enormously."
The youth suicide rate is a concern to me...... A couple of those instances have been a point of real sadness for me.Peter Turner
There have also been some lows for Mr Turner who is particularly concerned about the wellbeing of young people.
"Young people have got great pressures on them. There is a whole range of social issues, family breakdown and the whole social media area is of concern to me," he said.
"It is a great gift but it can also be quite a negative in the lives of young people.
"The youth suicide rate is a concern to me. That touches all schools, all school systems and it has touched ours. A couple of those instances have been a point of real sadness for me."
Bishop Mascord praised Mr Turner, who he said had made a positive difference to the lives of thousands of students, their families and staff.
"As an educator and leader, Peter has made an exceptional contribution to Catholic education, in a career spanning more than 45 years," he said.
"As Director of Schools, he has been preeminent as an advocate, negotiator and architect of authentic, effective Catholic schools and systems, in this diocese and beyond, at state, national and international levels.
"Peter has guided our diocesan school system through significant challenges and emerging issues.
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"His collaborations have built strong and lasting partnerships with parents, staff, clergy, government, the wider education sector and the community more broadly.
"Peter has worked tirelessly to strengthen the links between priests and principals, parishes and schools, and he has made a substantial contribution to the pastoral life of our diocese as a whole, not just in education."