John Heenan spent forty years in primary education. His teaching career included a breadth of experience: from sole teacher in Poverty Bay, to intermediate, model country school and junior school appointments in Dunedin and three principalships in Southland. He spent time as an inspector of schools and after his retirement served as a school commissioner.
During his last appointment as principal of the Waihopai School, in Invercargill, he developed an interest in the restoration of character education through the teaching objective values. These he described as cornerstone values.
Following the introduction of Tomorrow’s Schools and school charters and with the encouragement of trustees, and the overwhelming support of parents, the decision was made that the teaching of cornerstone values would be the only local learning objective written into the Waihopai School charter.
In 1993 he established the New Zealand Foundation for Character Education Incorporated.
John has written widely on character education. In addition to numerous published articles he is the author of:
- Cornerstone Values - A Values Education Curriculum 
- Teaching Cornerstone Values 
- A Call to Character 
- Building Character through Cornerstone Values 
All have grown out of John’s research and practical experience in the restoration of character education.