Funeral services took place Saturday for a fifth-grade teacher at North Stratfield Schools who died suddenly earlier this week.

The death of 48-year-old Nancy Larson Hanlon, who had taught in Fairfield public schools for 18 years, the last three at North Stratfield, touched off shock and mourning in the local education community.

The funeral for Hanlon, a resident of North Haven, included a Mass of Christian Burial in Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, Hamden. Burial was in All Saints Cemetery.

"She was a caring, compassionate and very dedicated teacher who positively impacted the lives of hundreds of students. We are very deeply saddened by her loss," North Strafield Principal Debbie Jackson wrote in an email to parent announcing Hanlon's death Wednesday.

"She was so focused on her students and her family," Jackson said Thursday. "She was an extraordinary individual. She was a caretaker of everyone. She had boundless energy."

While many teachers look forward to their summer vacations, and a respite from teaching, Hanlon taught an enrichment course during the summer, according to Jackson. It was designed to encourage creativity among the children.

Jackson said even children who knew Hanlon "for a short period of time were deeply impacted by having her in their lives."

"She instinctively knew how to reach out to a child and support them in so many ways," the principal said of Hanlon, the mother of two sons.

Robert Gillen, a fifth-grade teacher and colleague of Hanlon's, said Thursday that she was first and foremost "a people person."

"Given the fact that our grade level does not have anyone who is short on words," he said, "Nancy wouldn't jokingly say in order to get a word in, `Alright, it's my turn now, it's all about me.' But in reality that was furthest from the truth. With Nancy it was always about you, us or them. We are all forever enriched for having Nancy as a colleague and most importantly a friend."

Jackson added, "She always carried a smile. And she was the first person here to help in any area of the building. I think every person that knew her was a better person afterwards."

" ... Our entire school has been shaken by the loss of this beloved teacher. We will take time over the next couple of weeks to ensure an environment of support and continuity of learning for students ..." Jackson wrote in her email.

"Our thoughts are with the Hanlon family during this sad time."

Nancy Halon is survived by her husband, Michael J. Hanlon; two sons, Conor and Keegan Hanlon, both of North Haven; her mother, Mary Agnes Larson of Hamden, and a sister, Kathy Larson of Hamden.