The former director of education with the Rainbow School Board in Sudbury has died.

Jean Hanson passed away Monday after battling cancer.

After working for the board for 40 years, she retired in 2010.

“Jean Hanson was a colleague and a friend to all of us,” said Rainbow District School Board chair Doreen Dewar. “Rainbow Schools extends its deepest sympathy to husband Bob, children Jessica and Russell, and family and friends. Our thoughts are with you.”

Dewar praised Jean Hanson for her immense contribution to public education in Sudbury, Espanola, Manitoulin Island, Shining Tree and across Ontario.

“This is a sad time for the Rainbow District School Board community. Jean Hanson was an exemplary role model and advocate for children. She provided exceptional leadership in education during a time of tremendous change. She demonstrated tenacity in the face of adversity. Regardless of the challenge, her spirit never wavered. She has left a lasting legacy.”

Hanson began her career as a classroom teacher in 1970 at the Borough of York. She joined the Sudbury Board of Education in 1976 and served as a classroom teacher, special education consultant, principal and superintendent. She became Rainbow District School Board’s first female Director of Education on Jan. 1, 2004.

According to a Rainbow School Board press release, Hanson will long be remembered for her focus on student success through special education, early learning, cultural understanding, and character development. 

Hanson worked as an instructor at Nipissing University, was a member of the Governing Council of the Ontario College of Teachers, and was an instructor for the Principal’s Qualification Program and the Supervisory Officer’s Qualification Program. She authored a number of publications, including Learning Together: Building Collaborative Cultures in Our Schools, the Principal as a Lifelong Learner and the Exceptional Student in the Community School, which exemplify her personal perspective on public education.

Hanson was also a strong supporter of mental health advocacy. She was a member of a Canadian Mental Health Association's board of directors.