The gymnasium at Jean Hanson Public School was packed Monday and there wasn’t a dry eye in the room after a touching dedication ceremony to name the school after the former director of education.
The Rainbow District School Board officially renamed Gatchell School as Jean Hanson Public School to honour Hanson, who passed away in February after a battle with cancer.
“This is an important day in the history of Rainbow Schools,” said Doreen Dewar, chair of the Rainbow District School Board. “Today, we pay tribute to an inspirational leader who has made an immense contribution to public education, a dedicated educator who has left a lasting legacy.”
Jean Hanson was the former director of education for Rainbow District School Board who passed away on Feb. 3 at Maison Vale Hospice after a decade-long battle with cancer. She was 63.
Hanson was a dedicated educator and champion for children, especially those with special needs.
Hanson was principal at Gatchell School from 1987 to 1993. This was her first role as an administrator. She was 19 in the mid 1970s when she entered the profession. It was also the beginning of her career as an inspirational leader.
Hanson was named the Rainbow Board's director of education on Jan. 1, 2004, becoming the first woman to hold the post in the board's history. She retired in June 2010. Her career spanned 40 years and touched countless minds and hearts.
Surviving husband, Bob Hanson, and their two children Jess and Russ, as well as new granddaughter, attended the ceremony.
“She may have spent more time at other schools, but this was the one that meant the most to her and obviously with what goes on here,” said Russ Hanson, Jean's son. “It is what she would have wanted.”
James Norrie, the current principal of Jean Hanson Public School, said he was thrilled the school being was being rechristened in honour of such an inspirational leader.
“She spent her entire career making sure that students with special needs had their place and their full potential was experienced during their education,” he said.