Tirkandi Inaburra is mourning the death of their head teacher John Breen, who peacefully passed away at Melbourne Hospital after losing his battle to a lengthy illness.
Mr Breen will always be remembered as a man who dedicated himself to the young Aboriginal boys at Tirkandi Inaburra Learning Centre Campus.
Tirkandi Inaburra centre manager Matthew Watts said Mr Breen was a devoted teacher who came to work every day with a sense of purpose and an unwavering moral compass.
"John was a very compassionate, smart man who was a stalwart for social justice," Mr Watts said.
"He was incredibly dedicated and committed to supporting the young fellows who come through the program."
Mr Breen was hired by the NSW Department of Education and posted out to the Tirkandi Inaburra learning centre about four years ago.
The centre caters for Aboriginal boys between the ages of 12 and 15, and is an opt-in program designed to provide a "culturally appropriate" education.
It has a stated aim of reducing future contact with the criminal justice system by strengthening the boys' cultural identity, self-esteem and resilience.
The centre is a live-in campus that offers Indigenous youth programs, including a broad syllabus of traditional Aboriginal dance, didgeridoo, and traditional Indigenous art styles.
As head teacher Mr Breen worked with four other teachers at Tirkandi Inaburra, which is run by Coleambally Central School and funded through NSW Department of Education.
Coleambally Central School principal Timothy Alan said Mr Breen's presence would be sorely missed, not only by his fellow teachers but also by the students who had been under his care over the years.
"He was dedicated to his students and he always made sure every student at Tirkandi Inaburra was known, valued, and cared for," Mr Alan said.
"He'll be sadly missed by the school community at Tirkandi Inaburra."
Mr Alan also gave his condolences to Mr Breen's family during their time of grieving, particular his two remaining children Sib and Daniel Breen.
Mr Alan described Mr Breen as "one of nature's true gentlemen", and a person who always lived his life according to his firmly held principles.
"He was very student-centered; his students always came first," Mr Alan said.
"He was dedicated to the underlying issues and making a positive difference in students' lives."
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