Resilience, determination and grit are the attributes departing principal of Iona College Shannon Warren will be remembered for after she moves her career offshore later this year.
Announced yesterday, her resignation shortly follows the sudden loss of her best friend, mentor and husband John Warren, who died in a mountain biking accident on Te Mata Peak.
Confronted with the tragedy and ensuing grief in February this year, Mrs Warren said she found great purpose for her life in the school and its pupils.
"I really believe the girls and Iona have given me great purpose and I think that's been a key factor for me being able to go on with my life,
"John has died but I'm still here and I have to keep living my life. I know that's what John would want for me as well. He would want to know that I was continuing to live a good life and to be an inspiration to others."
She said they had moved to Hawke's Bay to progress her career in 2014, leaving behind their family, friends and John's role as principal of Eynesbury Senior College in Adelaide.
"Essentially John left his career in Adelaide to support my career. I followed his career for many years in Adelaide so when I got the opportunity to come here he said 'It's your turn now and it's my turn to follow you' so that was how we ended up coming here."
Mrs Warren knew Iona College was a wonderful place the moment she set foot in the campus and had enjoyed her years at the school.
"It's been such a special place to have my first principalship. Iona is such a magnificent school and I don't think it would have mattered when I made the decision to leave, it would have always been a hugely difficult decision,
"The girls have such a wonderful zest for life and they're such good fun and company and it's such a beautiful campus. I've been absolutely blessed to have had what will end up being three and a half years here."
The couple had planned to make Hawke's Bay their "home" for the next half decade but this plan changed after John's death.
Mrs Warren has accepted a job offer as principal of Woodcroft College; an independent, co educational school with 1200 students in Adelaide.
"When you make those decisions you never know how life is going to unfold," she said.
"My time here has been cut short in the set of circumstances that I never could have imagined but by the same token I think you just never know what life is going to present you,
"Who knows? I may have ended up making this decision even if John was still here. We may have both decided to go back to Australia. So I think [his death] is a factor but the role certainly is an exciting opportunity too."
Mrs Warren met John in 1997 while they were both teaching at an international school in Brunei. They went on to travel the world together.
He was just several months into his role as principal of Westmount School in Hastings when he passed away.
"I'll never get over John's death," she said. "I'll simply learn how to live differently and the idea of continuing to move forward and make those decisions is an important part of the process of grief."
Reflecting on their relationship, she said her late husband, who was also a "wonderful mentor" to her, would want her to be living her best life.
"Just before he died he said to me we should always remember that we've lived a very colourful life and I think that he would recognise this as another dimension of living a colourful life."
She hoped her legacy as principal of Iona College would be encouraging resilience, determination and grit among her girls as shown in her response to John's tragic death.
"I hope that I have been able to demonstrate to them the idea that sometimes we're faced with unimaginable tragedies but it's really how we respond to those tragedies and seek to find our purpose, which Iona has provided me with, and find strength in adversity,
"You can't succeed without the risk of failure and that's something I really hope the girls have taken away from my leadership; that you can't love without the risk of loss and you can't have a voice without the risk of criticism."
Yesterday Iona College Council chairman Angus Mabin and Board of Trustees chairwoman Lisa Townshend wished the departing principal "every success and happiness" in her new role that will commence in May next year.
"We are grateful for the enormous contribution she has made to our community and we are proud that Iona has played a part in preparing her for her next leadership opportunity."
Mrs Warren will join her parents, two siblings and John's son in Adelaide, along with a network of friends.
She will leave Iona College in December this year.