Jon Rowan has spent the last 30 years at Klawock City School District leading the Native Arts department. After a long and successful teaching career, he retires this fall, leaving a legacy of community pride. A renowned Tlingit master carver and artist, Rowan was honored at the 2022 STEAM Conference held in Juneau on Friday, Oct. 14. Klawock City School District is a model of incorporating Native arts into the school, setting the bar for other communities.
“These values that our teacher’s model – insatiable curiosity, above all – helps foster similar interests in students. Science, technology, engineering, art, math, all of these different disciplines are areas where your students are thriving, thanks to your commitment and example,” said Tesla Cox, Sr. Director of Shareholder Development. “These daily opportunities to learn and grow together, building success in the classroom and beyond – these are the gifts that John Rowan gave decades of students and this the gift teachers across the state give every day.”
Rowan graduated from Klawock High School in 1981 and joined the U.S. Marine Corps soon after serving four years and was honorably discharged. He has been with the school district since 1992.
He has provided instruction for students from kindergarten to twelfth grade, teaching basic design, wood carving, metal carving, oral history, beading and language. But most importantly –if you ask his students – he has taught pride. His willingness to share the traditional knowledge of carving has helped inspire three generations of students toward a richer connection to their Alaska Native identity. Teachers understand that a sense of pride and sense of self can have a tremendous impact on a student’s academic success. In Klawock, this pride provides a foundation for the vibrancy of the community.
One of the things Jon teaches his students is that you let your work speak for itself: “Work hard and don’t wait for a pat on the back. You are doing the work because it is important and not because you want the spotlight,” said Rowan. One of the things Jon teaches his students is that you let your work speak for itself: “Work hard and don’t wait for a pat on the back. You are doing the work because it is important and not because you want the spotlight.”
Rowan is Tlingit, Ch’áak (eagle) Shank’weidi (wolf). His Tlingit names are too’yeek, yanis’kit and Waak’nas. He is also Pueblo descent and a Road Runner and has also been adopted into the Scottish clan McDonald.