Charles Henry Schowe

1881 - 1952

Charles Schowe, a native Australian, began teaching at present day Avondale College in 1910, when it was still known as the Avondale School for Christian Workers. Within a year the name of the school changed to Australasian Missionary College, and he was placed in charge of the music program.

Schowe would be one of the first teachers to serve for a significant length time at AMC. His father had been a teacher in a government school and had insisted that Charles, who had attended ASWC in 1898, earn a teaching certificate in the government system. He then returned to ASCW, where he completed the Biblical-Academic Course in 1909. During his years as a student and later as a teacher, he also earned certificates and diplomas in music through the Trinity College in London and the Sydney Conservatorium programs in Australia.

Immediately following his graduation, the school hired him to teach Greek and history for the 1910 school year. At the end of that school year, he married Winifred Elmina Trunk, a member of the college faculty who had come from the United States to teach two years earlier.

Schowe was assigned to head the music program the following year when Jessie Paap, who had been teaching music for the previous eleven years, left with her husband to return to the U.S. In the middle of his first year of music leadership, the school changed its name and continued its efforts, underway since 1909, to upgrade its offerings in an attempt to gain credibility in the Australian educational system.

Benjamin F. Machlan, the new principal who had arrived in 1909, was intent on improving and having greater control over what was happening academically and musically on campus. Among other initiatives, he established a music committee to review and approve what musicians and groups, including the choir, orchestra, and band, could present.

Showe, a versatile and talented person who conducted an orchestra, choir, and band and taught voice, piano, and violin lessons, cooperated with this committee and worked within Machlan's vision for higher standards. He encouraged his music students to take the exams necessary to gain diplomas and certificates through the Trinity College in London and Sydney Conservatorium programs in Australia. With the heightened interest at the college for credibility, the success of the several AMC students who achieved this recognition had to be gratifying.

Although Schowe also developed a four-year music program that went into effect in 1913, only four students would complete the program, due to a lowering in academic standards that started in the middle of that decade. While the second decade in the 20th century had started with efforts to improve the academic program, by the time the 1920s started, standards had dramatically eroded. Several well-intentioned but poorly qualified principals, acting in concert with the board, had succeeded in eviscerating the academic program.

In 1916 Schowe's administrative responsibilities on campus were expanded and aspects of the music program, including lessons and the band and orchestra, were parceled out to private teachers. The Choral Society, however, continued under his leadership. At the end of his last year at AMC he led the choir in a presentation of portions of Handel's Messiah, a first for the college.

Schowe in reality was acting principal for most of 1917. Throughout these years of uncertainty he was an active advocate for increasing academic standards while successive principals and boards consisting mostly of ministers were arguing for Bible- and Spirit of Prophecy-based curriculums and classes. In 1918 Schowe and his wife resigned in protest over changes in the school's offerings that dramatically lowered scholastic standards. During the next decade he served as a headmaster in a school in Sydney and as principal of Greater New York Academy in the United States.

In 1927 Schowe and his wife were invited to return to the college, he to teach history and languages but not music because of the onset of deafness. He would teach and serve as part-time librarian through the 1949 school year, when he retired after teaching at the school for 32 years. In that year he began writing a college history at the request of the denomination, completing the manuscript in 1950 or 1951.


Sources: A.G. Stewart, A Most Commendable Career, Australasian Record, 16 June 1952, 8; Information found in the Avondale College centennial history, Avondale, Experiment on the Dora, Milton Hook, Avondale Academic Press, 1998, 59,76, 87-89, 93,94,101, 104-111, 119, 121; 125, 153; Obituary for his wife, The Australasian Record and World Survey, 27 May 1957, 15;