Teacher Celeste Reynolds

Mashpee Middle-High School teacher Celeste Reynolds received the distinguished teacher award from the National Council for Geographic Education.

Celeste A. Reynolds has many roles at Mashpee Middle-High School. She teaches Advanced Placement human geography, women’s studies, current events and senior seminar, and she is the coordinator for senior seminar projects. She was recently awarded distinguished teacher by the National Council For Geographic Education.

“I was shocked. I didn’t know that my colleague had nominated me,” Ms. Reynolds said.

She said her passion for Open Street Map is primarily why her colleague, Gregory Hill, an AP human geography teacher from Plano, Texas, nominated her for the award.

“He’s actually started to use OSM in his classroom, and he’s said that he wouldn’t have started using it if I hadn’t introduced it to him,” she said. “I’m very passionate about Open Street Mapping; it’s like a Wikipedia of maps. It’s based off of volunteer mappers.”

According to Ms. Reynolds, one of the biggest differences between Google Maps and Open Street Map is that Google is for-profit, but Open Street Map is not-for-profit.

“I’m trying to get teachers to implement Open Street Mapping into the classroom and to show students how to do geography and how they can use what they know from geography and apply it to helping others in their community and around the world,” she said.

Ms. Reynolds said students can help communities by contributing to Open Street Map.

“There are many places in the world that aren’t mapped and that makes people living in those areas very vulnerable,” Ms. Reynolds said. “When we think about people living here in the United States, there’s a lot of rural communities that are not mapped, so they’re vulnerable to disasters. If something happens and there’s no map, you don’t know how many people are there; you don’t know what was there, and you don’t know what kind of services need to be delivered because you don’t know anything about the area.”

Ms. Reynolds accepted her award on December 4 during the National Council For Geographic Education’s annual conference, which was held virtually this year.

In normal years, Ms. Reynolds said she would have had to give a speech, but this year award winners were asked to create a short video giving a description of themselves and what they are passionate about regarding geography.

The conference lasted until December 6. In addition to receiving her award, Ms. Reynolds also presented information on Open Street Map.

She gave one presentation on how to use Open Street Map. A second presentation, which she co-presented with Mr. Hill, was titled “The Why of Mapping” and focused on areas in the Middle East.

Ms. Reynolds said she met Mr. Hill because of the AP tests.

“Once a year I’m an Advanced Placement reader for College Board, and I normally go to Cincinnati, Ohio, for seven days for that, and I’ve met many teachers around the country and the world,” Ms. Reynolds said.

Ms. Reynolds said about 1,000 teachers participate in the AP reading in Ohio.

“Through that experience I have met many many new friends and colleagues that I share and work together on many projects that I do in the classroom as well as outside the classroom,” she said.

Since then, the two teachers have worked on multiple projects together, and they are both members of the council, which normally has a large in-person annual conference in August but, because of COVID-19, was delayed until this month and pushed online.

For this reason, Ms. Reynolds found out she was going to be presented the distinguished teacher award through an email on July 22.

“I don’t know how many people registered to go to NCGE, but they had the award ceremony on Friday evening, and I would say close to a hundred people were in the Zoom call,” she said.

Open Street Map is important to Ms. Reynolds because it helps at-risk people.

“Especially right now with COVID, I’m trying to show students how they can help others. I think helping others is very therapeutic,” she said. “In my AP human geography class, my current events class, as well as my women’s studies class, we’re all going to be doing open street mapping right before the holidays. Trying to help students to do assignments that involve thinking about others and potentially helping others from the screen of your computer can be very therapeutic.”

“I love my job, and I love teaching kids,” she added.

Mashpee Middle-High School Principal Mark Balestracci and Mashpee Public Schools Superintendent Patricia M. DeBoer gave a shout out to Ms. Reynolds during the school committee meeting on Wednesday, December 16.

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