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Going beyond the book

“It’s not the sort of experience a geography teacher would usually have.” So says Sonia Rebellato, a Mississauga, Ont., high school teacher who travelled to Kansas City, Missouri, in 2007 for Project Atmosphere, a program that offers educators hands-on meteorology experience. Rebellato learned how to read radar, for instance, and discovered that Canadian weather sensors once used human hair to detect humidity fluctuations. Back at home, she felt re-energized while passing along her new knowledge in the classroom.

Rebellato’s trip was made possible by the Canadian Council for Geographic Education’s (CCGE) Phyllis Arnold Award. While attending American geographic conferences in the early 1990s, textbook author Phyllis Arnold often thought it was “a shame there are thousands of Canadian geography teachers who don’t get to go to meetings like this.” In 2001, Arnold won the CCGE’s Geographic Literary Award and parlayed the prize money into the creation of a professional-development award to facilitate conference attendance. She has since augmented her initial bequest with royalties from textbook sales. The award ensures that Canadian teachers can travel, Arnold says, “and bring that knowledge back.”

— Graham Lanktree

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