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Local comes full circle with GPRC programming

Kennedy Drayson teaching basic coding and engineering through a lego day camp at GPRC.
Masha Scheele Photo

Masha Scheele

Fresh out of university with a degree in hand, Kennedy Drayson returned to her hometown of Hinton to step into her first teaching role at the Grande Prairie Regional College (GPRC) this summer.

Coming full circle, Drayson took courses through GPRC in her second year of schooling. It’s where she first realized her passion for education and her drive to pursue it further.

“I think if I had taken [my schooling] anywhere else I probably wouldn’t have pursued it, it’s just the teachers I had when I was here were so passionate and inspiring that I wanted to keep going,” she commented.

Drayson originally attended the University of Alberta (U of A) in Edmonton for a science degree but found she wasn’t ready to return for her second year.

“First year was very different from what I was used to. I used to be very reserved and didn’t talk to a lot of people, and then the first year was very overwhelming,” she said. 

“I lived in residence and there were 40 other people on my floor, I went from being shy to learning actually how to socialize with other people.”

Drayson felt unsure of her career path at this time but continuously considered education as a potential option. Not yet ready to return to the city, her mom suggested Drayton try out GPRC, and after attending classes, she knew she had made the right decision.

“Taking the chance to come and apply here instead of going back to the U of A was something that really benefited me in my second year for both my mental health and my health in general,” she said. 

“[GPRC staff] really want to see you succeed, which I find really nice because sometimes in bigger university that’s not how it goes. You’re just another person, but here they really care about you and they want to see you succeed.”

Drayson went on to finish her education degree at the U of A with two back-to-back teaching practicums.

“It’s a really overwhelming experience just because you’re so used to being the one taking in the knowledge and now to use the knowledge you have and actually put it into practice and help children learn is very hard to switch. But once you get into it, it’s really hard to switch back to a student,” she said about her first teaching experience during her practicum.

Drayson was referred to the summer camp teaching position at GPRC after her graduation this spring and came back to Hinton, ready to apply her skills in the classroom.

“The whole experience is really rewarding, you just see all the little victories that each child is having and you’re helping them succeed. It’s a really rewarding job and I’m really excited to keep doing it,” she added.

The first camp called LEGO® Explorers ran from July 8 to 12, where kids in Hinton put their Lego building skills to work and learned about robotics in the process.

The workshop served as an introduction to basic coding and building their engineering skills through building robots with motors and sensors, and programming them to make them move.

“I was in Discovery Camp when I was younger, but they didn’t have these programs when I was growing up. I’m glad they have them now because I would’ve been really interested in it,” said Drayson.

She hopes to follow in the footsteps of some of her past teachers who helped her along the way.

“I’m really excited to pursue a teaching position in Hinton because I’ve been inspired by the teachers, not only at the college, but also in elementary and secondary school. I kind of want to be the person for those students now,” she said.

Growing up in Hinton, Drayson attended Crescent Valley elementary school and Harry Collinge High School.

Drayson will be teaching two more summer camps related to coding, Lego, and motorized mechanisms for kids at GPRC this summer. 

To learn more about the programs or how to sign up for summer camp, call Hinton GPRC at (780) 865-7666.