Mike Wilde, head of Cockermouth secondary, Cumbria, was diagnosed with cancer of the sinuses three years ago. Last week he won headteacher of the year award for the North-east and Cumbria, and will progress to the national finals in October.
He said: "I was determined not to let it get me down. There are so many more things I want to do for this school."
He is overseeing the building of an eco-centre, inspired by the Eden Project in Cornwall, made entirely of recycled materials and powered solar cells and wind turbines.
Mr Wilde said: "At first my consultants said they were not sure I should keep working. Now they realise that I thrive on challenge."