Dedicated and inspiring principal whose school was her life project

 

Suzanne McGowan, who has died aged 71, was principal for 33 years of the Teresian School in Stillorgan in Dublin, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.

Rosaleen Doherty, a friend from university days, described her as “a peacemaker always striving for harmony”, adding that as a mentor she was loved by the many she supported over the years.

Suzanne McGowan was born and raised in Balbriggan, Co Dublin, the middle of three daughters of Dr Pat McGowan, a GP, and Sheila Cumiskey. She received her primary and secondary schooling at Loreto College, Balbriggan.

Immediately after school she spent a year as a language tutor in a Loreto school in Madrid and then went on to take a degree in Spanish, French and Irish at UCD. After university, she joined the teaching staff in the newly forming Teresian School, becoming its principal seven years later and filling that post for the next 33 years.

During that long tenure, she presided over the enormous growth and development of the school.

Education in the Teresian School was based on the philosophy of Pedro Poveda, a Spanish priest who founded the Teresian Association in 1911 to combat illiteracy and educate teachers.

Her engaging, positive methods energised others, colleagues said, and her dynamic spirit was always moving ahead to the next task. Hers was a no-fuss approach but when she gave an order, it was deemed worthy of respect.

She was a keen sports fan and strongly encouraged the development of hockey and basketball at the school. She was also an avid rugby fan, her loud voice carrying far in passionate encouragement.

She was predeceased by her sisters Patricia and Sheelagh and is survived by her brother-in-law, Robin McNeill.