A private school in Merrickville now has some significant bragging rights.
Earlier this month, the Merrick Preparatory School was recognized as the best in the world through the Secondary Learning and International Impact Award.
It's like the "Academy Awards" for the education sector, said Kevin Farrell, the school's headmaster.
The PIEoneer Awards, which awarded the best in the world title to the local school, are based in London, England, and celebrate innovation and achievements across the globe in the education sector for secondary schools teaching from Grades 9 to 12.
This year there were 19 different categories, and a large panel of more than 40 international judges.
The Merrickville school believes it won the award because of its teaching efforts throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as having a high success rate for students placed in top ranked universities.
"We were able to create an online learning platform synchronicity very quickly, and develop an incredible sense of community for our students through that learning platform," said Farrell.
He said staffers at the prep school worked early mornings to address all the students who were learning remotely and the school used multiple cameras and highly sensitive microphones to have students feel like they are present in the classroom despite being spread out across the globe.
"Our teachers and staff had the courage to push through what was a very difficult time. Our parents, our students and staff had a sense of community and belonging and above all we had compassion for each other," said Farrell.
"I don't think there is any one person that this award is for; I think this is for the teachers, the staff; it's for the students, it's for the parents. It's for everyone involved in Merrick Preparatory School family."
While most students have returned to in-person learning at the school, it still offers the online option for students, both locally and internationally.
Currently the school has 22 international boarding students and will be accepting more for its second semester in early February.
"We have an amazing group of highly dedicated and skilled teachers and we have a fantastic group of students," said Farrell.
The PIEoneer awards may not be well-known throughout most of North America, but Farrell said that, regardless, it's still a great acknowledgment of how much work the school has done since it opened its doors 10 years ago, to be recognized as the best in the world as far as educational outcomes for students.
"I think what it means for the staff is that it's a real boost, that all their hard work pays off," said Farrell. "And it's a great lesson for our students that hard work does pay off."
He said the award is a great example that hard work doesn't always come with immediate gratification, as it took the school years of hard work to get to this level of recognition.
Jessica Munro, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brockville Recorder and Times