"Coming to Cawdor was a dream come true."
That's the message from Cawdor Public School's teaching principal Sharon Ihlein as she prepares for retirement.
Ms Ihlein arrived 34 years ago and went on to become a familiar, friendly face around the school.
Ms Ihlein - who has juggled teaching and principal responsibilities - said tomorrow (July 4) marked her final day at Cawdor.
"I have mixed feelings about retirement," she said.
"I am excited to move into the next phase of life, but I am sad to leave a place that has been so special to me.
"I have been fortunate and so grateful to teach here."
Ms Ihlein's career began in 1980 and she taught English to refugee children at schools in the Cabramatta area for five years.
She then transferred to Cawdor Public School as a teacher in 1985, which Ms Ihlein said was an amazing opportunity.
"Both of my parents were teachers so I've been interested in teaching from a young age - I would even help Dad with his marking on the weekends," Ms Ihlein said.
"My mum taught at a small school and that became my dream too."
Ms Ihlein said a major change for teachers came not long after arriving in Macarthur.
"The first computers arrived in the mid-1980s and we all marveled at them," she said.
"There have been so many technology changes since then, including the move from blackboards to interactive whiteboards."
Ms Ihlein said she took on several executive roles over the next few decades before becoming a teaching principal in 2010.
"I have always loved working with the kids. I enjoy the little things they say that make you laugh every day," she said.
"But the best part has been seeing the students grow up to become adults, and you run into them down the street."
Ms Ihlein said highlights over the years included being involved in the annual Cawdor Billy Cart Rally and growing a sister school relationship with the Hambrook Primary School in South Africa.
She said Cawdor Public School was a "unique" and "family" school.
"It's such a close, supportive community where the parents are actively involved," Ms Ihlein said.
"We have a fabulous staff and the students here are valued."
Ms Ihlein said she was ready to take a break, but had a couple of plans for the future.
"I look forward to more family time, but I'm also thinking about doing volunteer work with the elderly," she said.
"I also have long-term plans to travel. But I also look forward to sitting down with a good book and a cup of tea."
The Cawdor Public School community will join together for a special assembly and afternoon tea to thank Ms Ihlein on Friday, July 5 at 1pm.
Student Noah Fitzgerald, 11, said he would miss Ms Ihlein and said she was great teacher.
Fellow student Sofia Napolaone, 12, said Ms Ihlein had great knowledge about the local area.
"She's the best teacher."