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Newton Teacher Wins Geography Awareness Award

Gina Gordon

The Mississippi Geographic Alliance, headquartered at the University of Mississippi, has selected Gina Gordon, a gifted teacher at Newton Elementary School in Newton, as this year’s recipient of the Karen Wallace Geography Awareness Award.
Gordon conducted a semester-long unit with her gifted students in second through sixth grades focused on Mississippi geography, history and culture. She incorporated experiential learning into her teaching by taking her students to the state Capitol, Governor’s Mansion and relevant historical markers.
Some of Gordon’s students had never left their hometown before the class trip, she said.
“These kinds of experiences will help them make connections in reading, math and language,” Gordon said.
She also invited dancers from the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians to the school for a performance. All students and community members were welcomed.
Gordon credits Kay Killens, the school’s principal, and Virginia Young, Newton Municipal School District superintendent, for encouraging teachers to go beyond the core basics in their classrooms and engage the students in their community.
The Karen Wallace Geography Awareness Award is named for Karen Stockton Wallace, MGA’s Geography Awareness Week coordinator who died unexpectedly. A National Board Certified educator with nearly 36 years in the classroom, Wallace was a teacher consultant with the alliance for more than 20 years.
She was the geography awareness coordinator for the state of Mississippi, working with National Geographic Society to create innovative partnerships and promote geography at the community level. She also was one of the leaders of the alliance’s giant map program, which takes a floor map to K-8 schools around the state.
“The applications were judged on creativity and community engagement, two things in which Karen Wallace excelled,” said Carley Lovorn, MGA assistant director. “Gina’s work on Mississippi political and human geography embodied that excellence and creativity. Karen would have loved it.”
Gordon received a monetary award and will present her ideas to other teachers at a state professional conference.
The Mississippi Geographic Alliance works to strengthen geographic literacy throughout the state. A member of the nationwide network of state alliances sponsored by the National Geographic Society, MGA uses workshops, online resources and other programs to help educators prepare students to embrace a diverse world, succeed in the global economy and steward the planet’s resources.
For more information, visit https://www.mga.olemiss.edu, or contact Lovorn at mclovorn@olemiss.edu or 662-915-3776.
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