Gia Spiropoulos Rules The Court

Monday, March 2, 2020 /

Gia Spiropoulos in uniform

Gia Spiropoulos is a natural born leader and a serious threat on the basketball court. “My dad got me hooked on the sport,” explains the Lakehead Orillia graduate student from Belleville, Ontario. “When I was a kid, we used to play together.”  

Gia was so good that – at the age of 13 – during a family vacation to Greece, she was recruited to play for the Greek national basketball team. She had been shooting hoops in her father’s hometown of Tripoli, attracting the attention of a professional coach. “Basketball is a huge part of my life and it’s shaped me as a person,” she says.

Recently, Gia has been focusing her attention on reenergizing Lakehead Orillia’s basketball team, both as a player and a co-coach, as well as conducting master’s research on climate change.

It’s a lot to take on, but Gia grew up defying expectations. “My parents were clear that school should come before sports, yet there have always been these two parts to me,” she says.

“I’m a student athlete through and through, and I want my teammates to know you can do both school and athletics. Sports gives you a place to be supported and discover who you are.”

Convinced that she wanted to be a teacher, Gia completed a concurrent education and science degree at Queen’s. As graduation approached, however, she shifted direction. She’d been inspired by an environmental science course and decided to look for a graduate program in climate change education instead of taking a classroom job. “Although it took me a while to get here, once I found my path, I knew it was the right one.”

Her search led her straight to Orillia. “There is no other program in Ontario like Lakehead’s Master of Education,” Gia says. “It’s a perfect blend of education, science, and sustainability.”

Tackling the pressing need for updated climate change resources in Canada, Gia’s research combines classroom surveys, observation, and conversations to develop a first-of-its-kind guideline addressing the realities, diverse perspectives, and ethics of teaching climate change in any subject, in any province.

“Teachers have the responsibility to educate students on the facts of the climate emergency and turn that information into action and motivation, not worry,” she explains. “If I can help even three teachers, that’s 90 students – what a way to make an impact on classrooms and communities.”

“I’m a student athlete through and through, and I want my teammates to know you can do both school and athletics. Sports gives you a place to be supported and discover who you are.”