After 38 years in the profession and 25 years as headteacher of an all-ages special school, Peter Wright has been given a lifetime achievement award on the eve of his retirement.
The head of Hazel Oak school in Solihull, West Midlands, has twice had to fight to keep his school open and has turned it into a much sought-after establishment. He retires at Christmas.
Mr Wright is known for his humour, especially during assembly when he often pretends to trip on stage or blow his nose on his tie.
"All I do is go to school and do my job," he said, "and then I get this recognition by my colleagues. It is a fantastic way to end my career."
Mr Wright, who started out as a craft, design and technology teacher, has been praised by teaching and non-teaching staff, students and parents for his inspirational and infectious approach to special-needs pupils and his determination for them to achieve their goals rather than just make it through the educational system.
One parent said: "At first a special school feels like a last resort... You think it is the worst thing in the world, but when you leave Peter's office you can't think of anything better."