Hilary Harrison has called it a day on her teaching career at Epinay Business and Enterprise School.
The headteacher took her final bow on December 20 ahead of the Christmas break.
Throughout her 17 years at the school she has been credited with transforming it by developing new education and training programs, improving leadership and management and raising pupils’ achievements.
A spokeswoman for the school said: “Hilary, a National Leader in Education, has been a figurehead representing children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities across the region.
“Hilary has always been dedicated to her profession and endeavoured to ensure that children have a great start in life and strived to ensure they have a safe and supported learning environment.”
During her career as headteacher the school based in Clervaux Terrace, Jarrow, has won a number of accolades which has included two Outstanding Ofsted inspections.
She helped the school to develop national links with the Co-operative schools programme and in 2010 it became a Trust School.
The spokeswoman added: “Over the 17 years, Hilary has supported many children, worked with many schools, supported teachers and aspiring heads in special schools and will be leaving behind an outstanding school and legacy.”
Epinay Business and Enterprise School provides education for children and young people, with special needs, from the age of five to 16. This year, it announced the school had also become a sixth form college, following a two-year pilot of post-16 provision.