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Slocan teacher wins Prime Minister’s Award

Sean Marechal, a Grade 9 and 10 teacher at W.E Graham school in Slocan, has received the Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence.  

A media release from School District 8 said the award is given to primary and secondary school teachers who demonstrate exceptional skills as educators.  

Marechal runs the school’s Valhalla wilderness program, which provides opportunities for students to explore the area they live in and build skills in a variety of outdoor activities.  

In the media release W.E Graham principal Mike Hurley said the award could not have gone to a more deserving educator. 

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“I can’t think of a teacher more deserving of this recognition than Sean,” Hurley said 

He teaches children about leadership, teamwork, making safe choices, and building relationships through outdoor learning. Not only do students leave the program understanding commitment and hard work, they understand community and gratitude.” 

Marechal has been running the Valhalla wilderness program for 25 of the 27 years it’s been established. 

The program is designed to have students spend roughly 40 per cent of their schooling outdoors, building their skills in hiking, skiing and canoeing while still following the provincial curriculum. 

On top of planning and running the program, Marechal also participates alongside his students in all the physical challenges associated with adventure activities. 

Through his program, Marechal teaches his students essential life skills that can be carried through their entire lives, with lessons in everything from meal planning and preparation to wilderness first-aid and avalanche awareness.  

In the media release, Marechal stated he’s humbled to receive the award among so many other worthy educators in the district.  

“It is an honor to be recognized in this way. I also know that for me, like for many of my colleagues, the real reward of teaching an outdoor program is to see children go out into the world and succeed as healthy, aware and generous people who know themselves and understand that we’re all connected through nature and community.” 

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