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Mrs Conlan, who retired from teaching yesterday, first attended Duntroon School as a 5-year-old pupil in 1957, and although she said she did not know then that she wanted to return as a teacher, her first day as a first-year teacher at Duntroon School in 1971 had brought back good memories of being a pupil herself.
''When I think back to that first day with the polished wooden floors, the chalk blackboards and the old wooden desks - I loved it.''
She said the major highlight of her own school days had been a school trip to Wellington, which ''was quite a big thing back then''.
She said she had been a model pupil herself, ''most of the time''.
After completing her first year of teaching, she spent three years in Wellington before she returned to marry a local farmer.
She returned to teaching at Duntroon first as a relieving teacher and then as a permanent staff member, and had been the school principal for the past 12 years.
But whether as a pupil or teacher, she was constantly learning from colleagues and pupils, in a ''very special'' community, she said.
''Each class is different, each child is different, so you are continuously refining how to meet their needs better.
''We have a really strong working community here, with teachers and parents all working together. It's a very special area.''
She said she would still look to be involved with ''something useful'' in the community during her retirement, and added that she could look back with a lot of satisfaction on a long career.
However, although she had seen a range of changes at the school, including the introduction of computers, interactive white boards and an astroturf playground, she said she was most proud of the teamwork that went into making the school a success.
''The kind of thing that makes me proud is seeing the year 8 pupils graduate each year. It's the culmination of everyone's hard work, and I think our team do a fabulous job.''
School board of trustees chairman Steve Fielding said Mrs Conlan would be greatly missed.
''Mrs Conlan approaches everything with complete dedication. She's loved and respected by the children, staff and community and will be greatly missed.''