Two head teachers are departing their classroom "families" after working about 25 years each at St Matthew's Collegiate School in Masterton.
Art department head Barbara Roydhouse is retiring from the role and head of science Andrew "Joe" Wallace is taking a hiatus from teaching and shifting to Auckland.
Mrs Roydhouse said yesterday she had been working at the school part-time for the past two years and intends to spend her retirement years "smelling the roses, reading more books, going to art galleries ... and wearing purple gracefully".
Both teachers agreed the school had, during their careers, "become like a family" for each of them.
Mr Wallace had lived on-site for seven years since starting at the school in 1988 and two of his four children were born at the school.
Both of Mrs Roydhouse's daughters were married at the school chapel, where her mother's funeral was also held.
Mrs Roydhouse trained at Palmerston North Teachers College and had taught mainly intermediate level in Palmerston North and Wellington before she and husband Ray shifted to Wairarapa in 1971.
In 1978 she began as a relief art teacher at the then-Hiona Intermediate (now Lakeview School) and the work "changed my life. I like to call it a defining moment".
"A day became a week, two terms, a full-time position and I loved it," she said. "One day's relief became a full-time job."
Mrs Roydhouse spent nine years at the intermediate school and gained a diploma in art education before starting as head of art at St Matthew's Collegiate School in 1986.
"Art is part of my life in other ways as well now and I still love teaching. I've struggled to give it up. But it's the students who do it for you. Your reward is in their success," Mrs Roydhouse said. Mr Wallace echoed the sentiment, saying his career dividends had mainly come through academic relationships with students as they strived and improved.
He had started teaching about 30 years ago and led his first classes at Parkway Primary in Wanuiomata before working as a student teacher and teacher at Masterton Intermediate School, where he also had been a student. In 1987 he started as principal at Castlepoint School and the following year took up a post as a Year 7 teacher at St Matthew's Collegiate School.
He said he started taking science as a top-up to his duties and decided to take several varsity papers extramurally in the sciences before being appointed as head of science at the school in 1995.
Mr Wallace said he had become disheartened as a teacher in recent years as lesson preparation, assessments and reviews began to overshadow the core business of teaching during a routine school day and he is considering a career change as a consequence.
Principal Erik Pedersen said Kate Small and Monica Teng are to share the role vacated by Mrs Roydhouse and other staff will bridge the gap left by Mr Wallace.