Head of Junior Years to retire with our love and gratitude

Esteemed colleague John Dow will be leaving Tatachilla at the end of the year after eight years of advocacy and leadership at the college.

Mr Dow, as he is known to the college community, has made the decision to hang up his suit and cherished name badge for the very last time - but not before returning to the college in term four to see out the year as the Head of Junior Years and farewell staff and families.

Lindee Hopkins will continue to act in John’s role during term three.

John joined the college in 2016 and has shepherded the Junior School through a period of significant change and growth, punctuated by the redevelopment of our wonderful Reception Learning Centre, the COVID-19 pandemic and the emergence and adoption of authentic learner-centered teaching.

“Since joining the Tatachilla community I have seen the Junior School place increasing emphasis on meaningful classroom interactions between teachers and children and present the curriculum in a way that is relevant to the needs of students, and this has deeply enriched our educational offering,” John says.

“The teachings of Loris Malaguzzi have resonated powerfully with the Junior School team and underpin the positive, unconditional regard we have for all children, who we view as inherently intelligent and capable.

“Our hardworking teachers have also become more aware of the diverse needs of our students and what they need to feel happy and safe at school… they have also taken the time to understand the unique range of experiences, feelings and relationships that each child brings to school and how we can respond to this to ignite learning and joy.”

John was first inspired to pursue a career in education after watching his own three children participate in school life and benefit from the learning opportunities afforded them in a supportive school community. This experience as a parent, John says, was the catalyst behind his decision to study for his teaching degree.

Since then, John has worked with many respected educational leaders in Lutheran education – including Dr Shane Paterson and Steven Seidel (St Michael's Lutheran Primary School); Margaret Linke (St Peters Lutheran School); and Robert Hoff (Immanuel Primary School) – and cites them as being wonderful mentors throughout his career. It was their example that inspired John’s leadership approach and ultimately led him to Tatachilla Lutheran College.

“For me, Tatachilla is a light on the hill for its excellence in education, Christian faith and student care,” John says.

“The college is a truly beautiful and unique place in a remarkable setting and our committed staff have embraced the pursuit of excellence and teach with compassion and heart.”

John says that it is the whole-of-college events such the Blessing of the Animals and Challenge for Charity that have been the most memorable part of his Tatachilla experience, as well as the opportunity to see students shine outside of the classroom in such events as the Junior School musical, instrumental concerts and dance showcases.

On a personal level, John says he has deep respect for the collegial spirit of the Junior School team and the myriad of ways in which the Junior School village unites to celebrate success and support those in need. He recalls that this culture of care and collaboration was well established when he first arrived and he has loved being part of it for the past eight years.

“The closest I have ever got to being Superman in my life has been putting on my name badge and becoming Mr Dow,” John says with a smile.

“And while my only superpower is being punctual for Junior School meetings, I do receive smiles from children every day – which fills my bucket – and I have the privilege of working alongside deeply committed teachers and support staff who offer friendship, wisdom, and inspiration.

“I also get to preach about my favourite topic – hats – and ensure that they are washed, named and void of Sport Day regalia,” says John.

“It has been a joy to lead the Junior School and a great privilege to help shape the primary school years for our extraordinary Tatachilla children who are beacons of promise and hope and the future upstanders of our faith-filled community.”

John has led the Junior School with compassion and foresight and the college is deeply grateful for the legacy of educational leadership that he leaves, which includes the strong foundations now laid for the future growth of the Junior School. 

John’s advocacy for student empowerment and independence – and his expertise in strategic and educational master planning – has also ensured that Tatachilla remains contemporary and future-focused in its vision.

As Henry Wadsworth Longfellow once said, “Great is the art of beginning, but greater is the art of ending.”

As is John’s style, his conclusion of his time with Tatachilla will no doubt be the same as his beginning: filled with grace, humility and gratitude.

The college has begun the process of recruiting a new Head of Junior Years – to commence at the start of the 2024 school year – and looks forward to welcoming John back to the college for his swansong term and taking the opportunity to celebrate his significant contribution. 

John Dow photo for farewell article_cropped.JPG
Tatachilla Lutheran College
Copyright © 2024 Tatachilla Lutheran College
Website design Adelaide: Boylen