| Jul 07, 2011

While most teachers are enjoying their summer vacations, Sarah Sproule and Darren Sissons from North Addington Education Centre in Cloyne have been making the rounds of local councils, Lions clubs and sports groups, looking for money to support an initiative they would like to get underway this coming fall at their school.

“North Addington is unique in the Limestone Board because not only does it have an outdoor classroom, it has 88 acres of land as well,” Sarah Sproule told Addington Highlands Council this week.

Sproule and Sissons are Physical Education teachers at NAEC. While they have brought their students to the Outdoor Learning Centre that the Limestone Board has in place at Gould Lake near Hartington, they find transporting the students to be expensive and access to the Gould Lake Centre to be an issue as well because it is shared with the entire board.

“We would like to establish something for our students and for other students in the north,” Sproule told Council.

The two teachers are preparing an application to the Limestone Learning Foundation for multiple-year funding of their project, which they are planning to submit in the fall.

“The foundation would like to see us have community partnerships in place first, so we are doing that this summer,” she added.

There is something in it for the local townships, Darrel Sissons pointed out.

“Like most northern schools in our board, we are seeing declining enrolment at NAEC. We need to establish something that is unique in order to keep the students engaged, keep the school going, and keep the student base there. If we keep the students we keep the parents, and the township will have a healthier tax base,” he said.

In addition to seeking funds for upgrading trails on the NAEC lands, and developing the land for educational purposes such as pond and eco-system studies, the two are hoping to raise money to purchase equipment, such as snow shoes, canoes, camping gear, etc., which are items that the school board will not fund.

“There is a lot of potential here for something that can make use of our greatest asset, the unique environment. Kids of all ages, from elementary to secondary, will benefit from learning science in the world instead of from a book, and from learning how to interact with the outdoors. This is a long-term project that we are totally committed to, and we want to get it started this coming year,” Sarah Sproule said.

Sissons and Sproule are seeking at least $2,000 from community partners, including both Addington Highlands and North Frontenac townships (they attended a North Frontenac Council meeting on June 27).

“I think that's really encouraging to have someone out there working on something on this,” said Addington Highlands councilor, Tony Fritsch. “I'd like to support it if we could.”

“We did do our budget earlier this spring, so we need to see if there is any money available,” said Reeve Henry Hogg. “Perhaps we should defer this to our next meeting on August 2, and give you an answer then. How much was it that you wanted?”

“We'll take as much as we can get,” said Sproule.

North Frontenac Council also said they will consider the funding request at their next meeting, which is slated for June 18.


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