At Gowrie Victoria, we are saddened by the passing of Joan Waters, a beloved leader in the field of early childhood education.

Joan, who was 95 years old at the time of her passing, was known to generations of teachers and educators as the face of Gowrie through her role as manager of the bookshop and resource centre at Carlton North.

Gowrie Victoria CEO Susan Anderson said Joan was renowned for her knowledge and insight in providing valuable advice and resources.

“So many people still tell us how they used to come to workshops and training at Gowrie Carlton North, then visit Joan to pick up resources,” Susan said.

Throughout her career, Joan held various teaching positions and played a pivotal role in the Department of Health during a time when it oversaw kindergartens. Later, she took on the leadership of Anglican Kindergartens, where she continued to champion the importance of quality early childhood education.

Joan was not just a local figure; she had a global impact through her involvement with OMEP (the Organisation Mondiale pour l’Education Prescolaire), also known as the World Organisation for Pre-school Education, and ECA (Early Childhood Australia).

A prolific writer, Joan’s written works include a range of treasured resources, such as her Letters to Carla, which was featured in the Victorian Department of Education’s Three-Year-Old Teaching Toolkit.

Joan also wrote a book on the history of Gowrie Victoria, which was launched to mark Gowrie’s 60th anniversary in 1999.

Susan said this documentation of the early development of ECEC in Australia was a true gift and legacy. “Her research and curation allow us to understand more about where we have come from,” she said.

Early Childhood Consultant Heather Barnes OAM said she fondly remembered Joan as an inspiring role model. “Joan had a distinguished career in early childhood and was much admired, respected and loved for her wisdom, knowledge and passion for the education and wellbeing of young children,” Heather said. “Her wit, wisdom and warmth made her an absolute joy to work with”.

Susan said Joan’s legacy would live on through the countless lives she touched and the enduring impact she had on the early childhood sector.