LaurenHill Phys Ed teacher Simon exposes students to the great outdoors

Shaun Simon
Montreal - Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Shaun Simon believes in exposing his students to the great outdoors, whether they are  ice-fishing and snowshoeing in the Lanaudière or using GPS to locate hidden items on city streets. 

“The big outing of the year is ice-fishing” said Simon, a physical education teacher at LaurenHill Academy in St. Laurent. “We use what we call our down time in the fall to teach them the knots they will need and then went to Rosemount Tech where they have a woodworking program and they helped make the tipping jigs.” 

The fishing trip was a great success. Students caught 14 trout but their education didn’t stop when they pulled the fish out of the icy waters. Simon showed the youngsters how to clean and cook the fish on an outdoor stove.

Many of Simon’s activities have as similar interdisciplinary component as well as life skills.

The fishing trip include a trek through the woods on snowshoes and once the snow flies, there is a course on cross-country skiing, using the field behind the school and nearby Marcel Laurin Park,

Simon, who moved to Montreal from South Africa when he was 18, said part of the preparation involves dealing with the cold.

“Kids today don’t know how to deal with cold weather and, before we go out, we talk about hypothermia and frostbite, how to dress, Merino wool socks, a base layer,” said Simon. ‘I have to tell them  over and over, how important gloves are, the importance of a good hat.” 

There’s a kite-flying exercise in which the students build their own kites and learn how they fly. 

“They learn about wind direction and speed and aerodynamics and about the safety of flying kites,” said Simon. 

Simon also asked the students how they felt about the winding reel for the kite’s string. They suggested ways to improve the reel and produced the new designs on a 3-D printer. Other activities include fat bikes, dragon-boat paddling, ultimate Frisbee, running  and geocaching which involves using GPS coordinates to find hidden caches.

“We try to expose them to activities which are accessible in the city so they can continue with a healthy lifestyle in the summer,” said Simon.

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