Loudoun County public schools superintendent Edgar B. Hatrick III announced on Tuesday he will retire next year, ending his more than 20-year run stewarding one of the fastest-growing school districts in the region.

“This work has been an honor that has defined my professional life,” Hatrick said to Loudoun County school board members. “For that opportunity, I say a heartfelt and sincere thank you.”

Hatrick, a 1963 graduate of Loudoun County High School, spent his entire career in education in Loudoun County public schools.

A graduate of the University of Richmond, Hatrick earned his master’s and doctorate in education from Virginia Tech.

He began teaching English in 1967 at Loudoun County High before serving as principal there and later moving into the school district’s administration as director of special education.

He became superintendent in 1991 and said he will “enter the class of 2014” by retiring next year on June 30, after 46 years as an employee of Loudoun County schools.

“We know the journey to great is never ending,” Hatrick said. “In the past 20 years, we have become a lighthouse district in almost every area of our operations.”

Hatrick said he will assist the board in selecting a new superintendent and added that he plans to remain in Loundoun County after his retirement as a “full participant in the community and educational activities.”

When Hatrick was tapped as superintendent more than two decades ago, the school district enrollment was 14,000 students. Next year, the projected enrollment is expected to crest to 70,000 students. During his tenture, the school district built 30 elementaries, 10 middle schools and nine high schools. To address the growth, two more high schools will be built by 2015.

“It has been my privilege,” Hatrick said. “I will continue to focus on the future so that our students can have all the opportunities they deserve. ”

School board chairman Eric Hornberger told Hatrick that he led “Loudoun to create a world-class school sytem.”

Hornberger continued: “Thank you for your years of distinguished service to Loudoun County Public Schools.”