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Sharbot Lake teacher wins Gilles Gagnier award for going above and beyond – Kingston

Six years ago a teacher at Granite Ridge Education Centre in Sharbot Lake, Ont., introduced a new program to help students get hands-on experience with geography.

Now that teacher is receiving a medal for going above and beyond to help students reach greater heights.

“In 2017, I had the idea that it would be very engaging for students to have a program that combined the outdoors and technology,” Wade Leonard said

That idea grew into a course at Granite Ridge Education Centre, nestled just off Highway 7. It teaches students how to use geographic information systems (GIS) through hands-on experience, and one way to get that experience is to take to the air with a survey drone.

“Mr. Leonard really just put the controller in your hands and said ‘Go for it.’ It helped you learn a lot better than just him showing you,” said Jude Normille, a student of Leonard’s.

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The program has really taken off, eventually culminating in Leonard winning the Gilles Gagnier Medal for Innovation in Geographic Education from the Royal Canadian Geographic Society on the 27th of September.

“It was really truly an honour to be selected across Canada for an incredibly prestigious award. So this might be a career highlight for me,” Leonard said.

The students were just as excited, saying they believed it was well deserved and hoped to see more programs like it.

“This is a course that I don’t think is offered in many places. So, I think that by giving him this award, it gives schools almost an incentive to do something like it,” said James Clow, another student.

Even though some of them aren’t sure if they will continue down the path of geography, they’re certain the skills they’ve acquired will allow them to go forth and chart their own course.

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