Jean Hewitt (Townsend)

Born during a Luftwaffe airstrike in the Battle of Britain, the brutal scenes surrounding the moment Jean Hewitt came into this world may well have been foreshadow for the many battles she would have to fight in her life.

The first came at the age of seven, when Jean developed a serious eye infection. Despite nearly losing her vision at such a young age, this battle would harden Jean for future fights, ones that would affect not only her.

After her father abandoned the Townsend family when Jean was just eleven, her involvement in academics, sports, and the arts at the Mary Datchelor School served as distractions from Jean’s difficult home life. It was during these trying times that Jean developed an appreciation of the significance of social services.

When Jean met and married Gerry Hewitt and moved to Toronto, she fulfilled her childhood dream of becoming a teacher when she accepted a position at the Bishop Strachan School. After a final move to London, Jean became heavily involved in the Federation of Women Teachers, with the goal of increasing awareness of gender inequalities in the workplace.

Jean Hewitt’s tireless work to change deeply ingrained societal views towards women that, at schools were being taught and held onto from such an early age, has allowed for the ‘old’ ways to make way for the ‘new’. Both boys and girls attending schools all over North America are better for that work, and Jean’s legacy is one that has affected change that enables better citizens to emerge from our educational institutions.

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