MICHAEL Bond is bidding farewell to Kerang Christian College after leading the school through five historic years of change.
The 37-year-old joined the school from suburban Oxley Christian College in 2012, the first year the Kerang school had offered Year 8 studies.
Since then, he has overseen the addition of one year level annually, culminating in Year 12 in 2016.
"I made a five-year commitment to the board to oversee the expansion and have continuity throughout that phase to maximise the chances of being successful with our applications to the Victorian Registrations and Qualifications Authority," Mr Bond said.
"I've really enjoyed my time here and I've really appreciated the chance to build relationships with parents, students and teachers."
Despite no connections to the area and no experience in regional Victoria, Mr Bond soon settled into the Kerang community.
"I've really enjoyed being part of a small town community, which I haven't experienced a lot before," he said.
"An important part of our school community is working closely with the wider community, be it the churches, sporting clubs and other local organisations and I think that's something that's very unique in a small community like Kerang."
Mr Bond inherited an ambitious plan to expand the college from a primary school - which it had been since opening in 1983 - to a Prep to Year 12 college.
"It's safe to say things went to plan and I know the board and leadership team are really happy in terms of facilities, teaching staff and outcomes for students and their experiences at school," he said.
"One example is our middle school elective program which has offered over 50 elective choices during the past three years to students from years eight to 10."
Mr Bond said the time was right to return to the city and pass leadership of the college to a fresh set of hands.
"I was attracted to the project of building the school and expanding from P-8 to Year 12, and I really believe the next phase is suited to someone coming in with fresh eyes to mature what's been developed," he said.
The college has announced Mr Bond's replacement, with current Northside Christian College deputy principal Wayne Barker to start as principal in January next year.
By coincidence, Mr Bond will in effect swap jobs with Mr Barker, having been appointed the new deputy principal at Northside, located at Bundoora.
"I would like to pass on my thanks to the local community for its support of the school and likewise to the board and staff and certainly the students for making my job easier in many ways," Mr Bond said.
"It has been one of those roles where, yes, you're leading the school, but it takes a village to raise a child and I certainly couldn't do what I do without a large amount of support from many people."
Board chairman Pennie Gill said Mr Bond was a Godsend for the college when he arrived five years ago to continue the P-12 project.
"He was very excited about that challenge and he's reached that goal, and it's great for the college and board to see that dream come to fruition," she said.
"He's invested so much in the school and the community and done it with a real sense of purpose."