King's School headmaster Tony Sissons had no idea he was being considered for an international fellowship until he was told he would be spending 10 weeks next year studying in some of the world's most admired schools.
Mr Sissons is the latest recipient of the Woolf Fisher Award, which will see him studying school systems in the United States, Canada and Britain - including a nine-day course at the Harvard Principals Centre in Boston.
The original Woolf Fisher Fellowships were awarded in 1960 and were designed to send leading educators overseas to observe teaching practices.
The unique aspect of the awards is that applications are not invited. Instead, trustees search the country for deserving education leaders.
Yesterday, Mr Sissons told the Herald he found out about the award a month ago but had to keep it quiet until it was revealed at an assembly at the Remuera school last week.
"I had no idea at all. It's very humbling and definitely a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Woolf Fisher left a wonderful legacy to education."
Mr Sissons said he would use the opportunity to study leadership.
"I'm really looking forward to exploring in greater depth the concept of leadership in education. There's a lot more that has been written and researched in that area and I'm interested in that."
The fellowship is flexible and allows people to change their focus and explore other directions.
Mr Sissons said the community and student response to the announcement had been amazing.