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Geographic Literacy Award

2015 Recipient - Zachary Vanthournout

Zachary Vanthournout developed an appreciation of geography after seeing the world on tours of duty in Kosovo, Alert and Afghanistan with the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry. These tours taught him how geography impacts people, their communities, cultures, economies and their environment.

After this Medal for Bravery recipient retired from the military, he channeled his energy to his second career — teaching Canadian kids the love of geography. “I want my students to know their country so they can appreciate what we have,” says Zach Vanthournout. “I really enjoy coming up with new techniques to trigger their interest about the physical world around them. Hopefully one day they’ll become stewards to protect it.”

Vanthournout is fearless in his commitment to finding innovative ways of making geography relevant to his students and the larger community of educators in Atlantic Canada. It is not out of the ordinary for Zach to lead a class on a GPS exercise using the technology to play maze games, before leading them through a treasure hunt. Students are flocking to his geography classes because they’re cool - he’s getting a reputation among colleagues for his successful teaching methods. His professional development sessions on a wide range of geographic topics are always packed. It appears that combining fieldwork and technology is what geographic literacy looks like in the 21st century.

See also:
N.B. teacher receives national recognition (

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