CAMBRIDGE, NS – A beloved Cambridge schoolteacher has been named Canadian Geographic’s Geography Teacher of the Month, and he’s feeling out of this world.
Steve Wohlmuth teaches geography to grades 11 and 12 at Central Kings Rural High School, and has been teaching the subject for over 25 years.
He says receiving the award was at first a huge shock and felt surprising, but is now feeling flattered as his dedication to the subject and to passing it along to students is being recognized.
“It’s humbling, for sure. I’m still kind of wrapping my head around it at this point,” he said.
A passion for different people and places
Wohlmuth first fell in love with geography at a young age after picking up an atlas, and studying it closely, flipping through its pages as he learned about the world.
“There’s just something about an atlas, when you pick it up and go through it. I think it’s something a lot of people can relate to,” he said.
He decided to take up teaching when he realized geography was a study that came naturally to him.
After completing a Bachelor’s degree in Education and filling as a substitute for one day at Central Kings, Wohlmuth was offered a full-time position at the school, and has taught there ever since.
His classes expanded five years ago from teaching typical geography to Advanced Placement Human Geography and also geology to students, which have become so popular they’re offered online after school so students from different schools can partake.
“We set up a live stream so I can reach students at different schools. The students have done very well, so whatever we’re doing, we’re doing it right, ” said Wohlmuth.
“They’re fantastic students, and really engage with the material.”
A school that supports his vision
With the school’s blessing, Wohlmuth has taken students to unique environments like Iceland, where students studied things like volcano geothermal energy and the unique Icelandic culture, and Hawaii, which focused on volcanoes as well and also it’s biodiversity.
The trips are full of adventures that include taking samples of lava at volcanoes, and students are always amazed and full of questions, according to Wohlmuth, who sees questions as something that should be encouraged.
“When you get young people asking you the questions, you’ve got them,” he said.
“I want students to appreciate the differences that make up the world – cultures, religions, economics, education – really the whole gamut of standards of living.”
This is the second major award Wohlmuth has received for his work teaching students geography.
He also received the Nova Scotia Teachers’ Union’s 2012-2013 first ever provincial award for the “Teacher that makes a difference,” which was based on nominations from students and their parents.
Teaching is a job Wolhmuth feels grateful for, since it’s what he enjoys most.
“Getting the opportunity to do what I love has been an amazing experience,” he said.
“And getting to do it at a school that supports the vision I have for teaching these students makes it even better.”