Birbui Point Preschool director Ruth Diemar views herself as one of the luckiest people in Port Stephens.
Thirty-seven years ago she found her calling and has never regretted a day working with her young charges.
"It's just an amazing place to work. I never felt I needed to go anywhere else," Mrs Diemar says in the understated manner which has made her a cherished part of her community.
"I've never had a thought to leave, because of the families and the children and the community.
"I've been very fulfilled here professionally and emotionally."
The time has come to retire and Mrs Diemar admits December 15 the last day with the children will be a tough one.
"Saying goodbye to the children. That's going go be hardest. Decemeber 15 is their last day and I'll work with the new director to the end of January for the start of the new year in February."
Many of those children are children of children she taught in the early years of the preschool when it operated out of the nearby Birubi Point Community Hall.
"I originally graduated and went to the schools and did casual teaching around here," Mrs Diemar recalled.
"This service started operating in June,1986, and the director and assistant were only here for six months and they left and I started two days a week.
"We operated in hall next door. For 10 years we operated there like a mobile service. For 10 years we set the hall up, we packed the hall up, we set the hall up. That was hard work."
Mrs Diemar's two daughters Kirby and Lucy went to the preschool and granddaughters Remi and Mila will be coming as soon as they turn three.
"One of the things I'm proudest of is that children who came through the centre are now bringing their own children back," she said.
"I recognise them. Definitely. We've got a few families this year where the father or mother came here as children.
"When we operated in the hall next door we thought it was awful, but the children from then have no recollection of it being anything but great fun. They loved the teachers and the friends they made.
"They are bringing their children back for that community feel, connection they got when they were children.
"It's not a long-day care, there no extended hours, no meals provided and the families still value that. There's still a need and a desire for that."
As for retirement: "I'll give myself some time, but I don't think I'll be away from children for very long. My passion is literacy, speech and language, I might see if I can do some volunteering."
And some travelling with her husband Robert.
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