While you were sleeping All good news on the first day of spring

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Here’s our roundup of the best and brightest stories this morning.

A class act: A Canadian schoolteacher whose philosophy underscores hope and acts of kindness in an isolated corner of Quebec won a $1-million prize in what has become one of the most coveted awards for teaching excellence. Maggie MacDonnell was awarded the annual Global Teacher Prize during a ceremony in Dubai, beating out thousands of applicants from around the world. Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum presented the prize to MacDonnell and her name was announced by French astronaut Thomas Pasquet in a video message from the International Space Station.

Room to breathe: You’ll be able to take children in Car2Go cars by the end of the year. The car-sharing service will replace its entire 450-vehicle fleet over the next few weeks: there will be 340 new model Smart fortwo cars, while 110 of the older cars will remain in circulation. Later this year, the company will introduce five-person cars, which means kids weighing less than 80 pounds can ride along. Missing from the fleet, however, is electric cars.

You can call me Vernal: It’s been spring since 6:29 this morning. The vernal equinox — when the sun crosses the equator on its way north and days and nights are about equal — happens at 4:30 p.m. ET. At the moment spring began, the warmest place in Canada was Island, B.C., at 6.3 degrees Celsius, and the coldest was Lac la Martre, NT, at minus-39.5C. The Farmer’s Almanac predicts a rainy, flurry-filled start to spring in southern Quebec, followed by a dry and moderate April and May. Spring should end on a cooler, damper note. You can watch the vernal equinox happen, live, right here this afternoon:

Breaking popcorn heist update: Police say a 70-pound popcorn ball worth hundreds of dollars that was swiped from a suburban Cleveland shop where it was being auctioned has been returned. The oversized snack dyed red, white and blue was taken from outside the Chagrin Falls Popcorn Shop, but was just found intact in front of the shop. Police had earlier asked residents to keep an eye out for it, so maybe the damn thing was too hard to hide. Shop owner Dewey Forward had told Cleveland.com that the popcorn ball could be returned with no questions asked and no charges filed. It was created for a New Year’s Eve popcorn ball drop and is being auctioned this week, with the proceeds slated to go toward renovations of a town hall. It’s valued at $700.

Montreal Gazette, Canadian Press, Associated Press

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