THE departing headteacher of Donibristle Primary says the school will "forever be in my DNA" as he prepares for retirement.

Craig Mitchell is set to say goodbye for one final time this summer after a love affair dating back decades.

He joined as a young probationer in the mid-1980s before the opportunity emerged for him to teach in Egypt for a few years.

A return to Donibristle was made in 1996 but the allure of becoming a headteacher elsewhere dragged him away once more.

Then, in 2010, his "dream job" became available with the primary school in Dalgety Bay searching for a new head.

Mr Mitchell fired in his application and the rest was history as he completed a teaching cycle that "pretty much sums up my neatness", he told the Press.

He admitted that the decision to retire was not one he took lightly, and knows that there will be days when he'll regret the decision.

"The decision has pulled me one way and another because I've been wracked with excitement, anxiety, guilt and more," he said.

"I'm on this emotional rollercoaster during these rather bizarre and uncertain times so it kind of matches the mood of the world.

"It's probably the right time for me to step back. I've put the school, wrongly, ahead of my own family at times because I care so much about the job I have to do.

"Now that I'm reaching that golden age, I felt it was the right time. Although, is there ever a right time? I'm not so sure.

"Once you start this process, there's no going back and I'll be riding this rollercoaster until the end.

"If you're going to go out, you may as well go out with a bang."

Despite living in Kirkcaldy, he's "always treated Donibristle as my school", but laughed that time may be catching up with him as he continues to meet faces from his past.

He remarked: "I suppose you realise you're getting old when, during the transition last week for P1 children, one of the parents remembered me when she was in P7 and I was the depute. That was a moment to stand back and say, 'Okay, I am that old'.

"We have ex-pupils who have become parents and have moved back to the area just so their kids can come to Donibristle. That sense of family and tradition is priceless. That does mean a lot to me and to my staff.

"To think that ex-pupils remember their time here so fondly that they want their children to have the same experience as they did, it's an absolute privilege. They're placing a lot of trust in me, my staff and the school to ensure their kids do thrive and that's a tremendous feeling."

His departure after the school term, he feels, will see new challenges emerge as he begins to ponder what life in retirement will look like with more time on his hands.

He said: "Anyone that's been a depute or a headteacher knows you don't have much time to yourself. So, I'm going to take some time to relax.

"I reckon I could have a children's book in me! I'm toying over that idea.

"I do paint and draw as well but I haven't done that for a while. Maybe I'll illustrate my own book? Who knows?

"I'll enjoy my family more and enjoy what I've not been able to do for a while.

"My wife and I were wanting to travel everywhere – that's not going to happen now! So I'm going to have the neatest garden in Christendom as that's as far as I'll be able to travel!

"My son is a musician so maybe I'll become his manager? There's so many options out there to think about and it's helped me to distract myself from this rollercoaster journey that's going to be coming to an end soon."

Alison Green and Karen Hart, deputy headteachers at Donibristle, will take over in a joint role at the school before a further appointment is made later this year.

Mr Mitchell's advice to whoever takes on the role is straightforward. He says: "Have confidence in yourself, be courageous and listen to others."