Gwen Maitland (59) was given a surprise send-off by pupils and staff at the Bonnyrigg school on the last day of term.
Speaking on her final day, she said: “I knew there was an assembly but I didn’t know what form it would take. It was really special. The staff and the pupils made my last week unforgettable. But Hawthornden is an unforgettable school to work in. The staff are terrific, hard working. And the kids make it great.
“I have had the most amazing nine years as head here. Before that I was deputy head at King’s Park for seven years. Before that a senior teacher at Hawthornden for two years. And previously I worked in Edinburgh schools.
“I have mixed emotions. I’m leaving somewhere I love, but I’ve decided I’m ready to retire. It will be nice to have time to do things, and it’s nice to move on when things are going really well.
“Today it sunk in that I’m finished with work. It was quite emotional coming in knowing it’s my last day.”
Gwen reflected on her highlights at the school.
She said: “We had some fantastic shows in my time here. We did big ones, Oliver, Bugsy Malone, Wizard of Oz.
“We also had the opportunity to send staff to primary schools across Europe. All the pupils worked on the some themes and shared their work with children in schools in Italy, Poland and Germany. That was a great experience.
“We’ve just had so many fun times. Lots of things. Making a difference for individual children. Seeing them blossom.”
Married to Eric Maitland for 37 years, they have two daughters Lynsey and Nicola.
“I’m going to enjoy using my gym pass and get my money’s worth,” said Gwen.
“My husband retired at Christmas, so it will be nice to do things with him and my daughter is going back to work so we will be looking after our ten-month-old grandchild Erin.
“It will be great to have more time being a granny.”