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GNS Teachers Recognized with National Award

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Congratulations to six GNS teachers who were recently named runner-up for the Natural Curiosity’s Edward Burtynsky Award for Teaching Excellence in Environmental Education! Ms. Meera Bandechha, Ms. Joanne Dunn (Junior Kindergarten); Ms. Aleesha Bird, Ms. Isabelle Tang (Kindergarten); Mrs. Sarah Wallace, Ms. Rhonda Stark (Grade 5) and Indigenous Educator Mr. James Taylor made up the team that was recognized with this prestigious award. 

The award is presented by Natural Curiosity and the Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study and honours in-service elementary school teachers for their excellence in environmental inquiry across Canada. It’s rare for the award to go to a team, which made it extra special that this group of GNS educators received it together. 

The nomination showcases the programs being offered at the Junior School and the importance of an outdoor classroom. 

In the past, they all incorporated different aspects of the IB Primary Years Programme and inquiry-based learning outdoors, however this year they collaborated to build the curriculum. Their students worked together to build butterfly gardens, teach inquiry through beekeeping, develop school gardens, explore food sustainability, dig into composting and learn about stewardship of the land. Older and younger students worked together and learned from each other.

Earlier in the year, Grade 5 students worked with Mr. Taylor to delve into our land acknowledgement, unpack it and teach the meaning of it to the rest of the Junior School. Teaching the land acknowledgement helped educate their peers about their surroundings and their responsibility to the land and its culture. 

GNS’ outdoor curriculum is designed to integrate children with their natural world and engage them in learning outdoors and the Beach Drive Campus is a magical place to work, teach and play. 

As a result of being one of two runners-up, the group has won two signed copies of Mr. Burtynsky’s Photographic works and $250 towards environmental education related to professional development opportunities.