When Trevelian Mason decided to seek a slower paced life, he could not have dreamt he would be so successful.
This week he and his young family will set up home on Lord Howe Island, where he will be principal of the state’s most remote school.
His dream had been to find a school with a strong community focus and, ideally, one that allowed his two sons to learn under him.
The position at Lord Howe Island Central School is the perfect fit. As the only school on the small island, his boys — Isaac, 8, and Taylor, 4 — will have no choice but to join him at work. And, with most of the island’s 350 residents having grown up in its classrooms, it’s hard to imagine a school so inherently linked to its community.
When Mr Mason departed the mainland, he left behind friends and family, a soccer team, the band he leads and a couple of pets. He also no longer has use for the family’s cars or mobile phones.
“I’ve been trying to balance my life better over the last couple of years to manage my time more effectively and not put so much into work,” he said.
“The idea is to have more time with my wife and kids and I was hoping that something different from where I was would force that shift in thinking.”
The move to Lord Howe Island is certainly something different.
The World Heritage-listed island is about 700 kilometres, or a two-hour flight, from Sydney.
Mr Mason will walk less than a kilometre to work every day, where he will preside over about 35 students and two other teachers.
He is one of 61 first-time principals in NSW this year. Most have been promoted from assistant or deputy principal roles, but rarely at the same school.
For Mr Mason, it’s a far cry from his last posting at Katoomba North Public School, where he was the assistant principal.
At their new home, he and his wife, Helen, will have to order food a month in advance.
The relaxed pace, he says, will require some adjustment.
“I’ve been told nothing happens in a hurry,” he said. “I’m a pretty driven sort of guy, so I’m hoping it will tone me down a fraction.”
The placement has a five-year limit and Mr Mason hopes it will be an exciting adventure for his family.
“I just have no idea what’s coming, which is terrific,” he said.