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 Jamie Pettit
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From: Monday, August 29, 2016 10:57 AM -0400
Subject:Lessons of the Arctic in Bluewater
A Bluewater District School Board teacher who was selected earlier this year as a 2016 Lindblad Expeditions and National Geographic Grosvenor Teacher Fellow has returned from the Arctic Svalbard with many exciting experiences to share.  Breanna Myles, who taught grade 7/8 at Bruce Peninsula District School in Lion’s Head at the time of her selection, was one of only 35 teachers chosen from 720 applicants across Canada and the United States to participate in the professional development program.  The honour, which recognizes kindergarten to grade 12 educators who have demonstrated excellence in geographic education, provides recipients with enhanced learning in this subject area through direct hands-on field experience.  

The 10-day expedition this past June was preceded by a trip to the headquarters of National Geography Society in Washington, D.C. for workshops and networking.  Participants were then accompanied by Lindblad-National Geographic expedition experts as they boarded the National Geographic Explorer for a once-in-a-lifetime fact finding mission in the Norwegian archipelago known as the Svalbard.  

Day-by-day descriptions of the learning and adventures which took place during the trip as well as a myriad of photos can be found on Breanna’s blog,  Some of the highlights include:  spending the night in an area where there is 24 hours of daylight, walking on Arctic tundra to explore the fauna and flora, experiencing firsthand glaciers and the very real effects of climate change, kayaking on the Arctic Ocean and spotting polar bears, viewing various bird species of the Arctic, encountering walruses and humpback whales, and visiting the world’s most northern settlement.     

According to Breanna, the experience has been life changing.  She admits, “Every time I travel or experience a new landscape, it is like a puzzle piece, and I fit one more piece of the puzzle, gradually giving me a holistic view of the world.  Each experience affects my paradigm and shapes my thinking, and that changes me for the rest of my life.”

In regard to the program, she says, “I believe great teachers are great storytellers, and the Grosvenor teacher program gives teachers the opportunity to learn the story for ourselves.”

Beyond the excursion, participation in the program also entails a year round commitment involving a number of deliverables.  These include assistance with the development of curriculum for National Geographic, the creation of an Outreach Action Plan and accompanying presentation, and a chance to bring new geographic awareness and literacy into our learning environments and communities.  Breanna’s experiences will be shared with both students and teachers within Bluewater District School Board, which includes a Professional Activity Day session for staff on September 30th, 2016.

Image of icebergs with snow-capped mountains in background Image of group of teachers walking on Arctic tundra with water, glaciers and snow-capped mountains in background
Image of rocky terrain with lichenImage of male polar bear walking on ice and snow
Image of hands displaying bone and rock treasurers from the tundraImage of humpback whale's tail in the water
Image of National Geographic Explorer on the water with snow-capped mountains in backgroundImage of group of teachers atop an iceberg with snow-capped mountains in background
Image of group of teachers on a zodiac exploring an iceberg Image of Breanna on her kayak travelling the icy waters with snow-capped mountains in the distance
Image of several rocky cliffs overlooking waterImage of group of teachers standing around walrus skulls and tusks on the ground
Image of Breanna with walruses, shoreline and a wooden hut structure in backgroundImage of the midnight sun overlooking water
Image of Longyearbyen, the most northern village, with mountains in backgroundImage of a group of reindeer
Image of white and black bird on green vegetation near waterImage of large polar bear at the edge of an ice floe out on the water
Image of several nesting seabirds on the rocky cliffs of Kapp FanshaweImage of a group of walruses by the water