St John Bosco College Engadine principal Damien Carlton has been honoured with a national award in recognition of his 40 years' service to Catholic schools.
Mr Carlton received the Australian Council for Educational Leaders (ACEL) NSW Leadership Award 2020 in recognition of his four decades-long contribution to Catholic schools.
The prestigious award recognises strong leadership and progress on student learning outcomes.
Mr Carlton, who has been the principal of co-educational St John Bosco College for more than a decade, said it was very humbling to receive the award. He said it came "as a surprise, as I was not aware that I was a nominee".
Mr Carlton began his teaching career in 1980 at St John's College, Lakemba, now known as Holy Spirit College Lakemba, after graduating from Catholic Teachers' College.
He said teaching "came naturally" to him and he had always loved the profession.
"I love working with young people and making a difference in their lives," Mr Carlton said.
"It has never been work for me - it's a privilege to be trusted with the lives of the young and to be in a position to mould hearts and minds.
"The thing that I am proudest of is that I have never lost the energy and enthusiasm to teach, guide and work with young people and to be continually inspired by the commitment of teachers, young and old, with whom I have had the great pleasure to influence and lead."
He became a principal in 2004 at Christian Brothers' College, Burwood, where he spent six years overseeing its transition to Sydney Catholic Vocational College, Burwood.
St John Bosco College year 7 coordinator and English teacher Maria Millward described Mr Carlton's commitment to his students as among his most admirable qualities.
"He dedicates many hours of his own time to researching and understanding the concerns of students with unique needs in order to support them," she said.
"He remembers each staff members' birthday, and acknowledges the efforts of teachers and students with regularity and genuine gratitude."