Published Online: January 26, 2000
Published in Print: January 26, 2000, as Take Note

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When high school science teacher Helen M. Rainoff travels to Israel this summer, she will carry with her the remembrance of a young woman who dreamed of teaching but never got the chance.

The Wayland, Mass., teacher is this year's winner of the Mary L. Johnson Travelship, which awards $7,500 annually to a teacher from the Wayland district for travel anywhere in the world.

The award was begun in 1990 by the family of Ms. Johnson, a graduate of the Wayland schools and Brown University, who died at age 25 in the terrorist bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988.

Ms. Johnson's family said they wanted to acknowledge the impact their daughter's teachers had on her and to memorialize her love of travel. When she died, she was flying home from a year in Taiwan, where she had been an English instructor in preparation for her own teaching career, said her mother, Graceanne G. Johnson.


The travelship is open to any teacher who has taught in the Wayland public schools for five years. Since 1990, a dozen teachers have used the awards to explore several continents.

"Mary would be thrilled," Graceanne Johnson said. "Besides being exemplary teachers, they're traveling ... and they can't do that on the salaries teachers are paid."

Ms. Rainoff, who teaches Advanced Placement biology, was chosen because of her ability to excite students about the subject she teaches, said Gary A. Burton, the superintendent of the 2,800- student district. Her selection was announced Jan. 18.

A teacher at Wayland High School for more than 20 years, Ms. Rainoff was a co- adviser to the yearbook when Mary Johnson served as an editor in 1980- 81, her senior year.

The award makes it possible for Ms. Rainoff to attend a wedding and family reunion in Israel. "I am honored and touched by this," she said. "It's wonderful to be able to take Mary's memory with me."

—Catherine Gewertz

Vol. 19, Issue 20, Page 3

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