Educator Named North Dakota’s Outstanding Geography Teacher

One of Discovery Middle School’s teachers has garnered the state’s top educator honor in the field of geography.

Tami Haman, who teaches the 7th grade subject, is the 2011 recipient of the Warren Kress Outstanding Geography Teacher Award.  It was presented to her Tuesday by Marilyn Weiser of the North Dakota Geographic Alliance (NDGA), in front of an audience of over a hundred current and former students, teachers, and family members in the school’s auditorium.

Haman was selected for the Kress Award based on her leadership and professional involvement with North Dakota and national geography organizations, and her approach to teaching.  A regular presenter at the ND Summer Geography Institute, her presentations to colleagues focus on teaching without a textbook.  She designs unit and lesson plans that use a textbook only as a supplementary resource.  As such, her lessons are visual, hands-on, and student-oriented.

At Discovery, Haman also coordinates the school Geography Bee, which is underwritten and sponsored by the National Geographic Society.

“Geography is a curriculum that acts like glue within the field of social studies and science,” Haman said, referring to the importance of the subject in education.  “There are many physical aspects of geography that can only be understood by looking through the lens of science and focusing on important aspects such as Earth’s rotation and revolution, plate tectonics, ocean currents, water cycle, and climate.”

“Geography also looks through the social studies lens at areas such as economics, history, culture, and the relationships human have with their surroundings,” Haman continued.

Haman accepts the plaque that now bears her name, from NDGA Director Marilyn Weiser (right). It will be on display at Discovery for one year, until the 2012 recipient is chosen.

“Students need to be aware of the interdependence between humans and their environment in order to understand why people live and act in certain ways.  Hopefully, students become more aware of their surroundings and accepting of other cultures as they learn about world geography.”

Haman is a graduate of Montana State University.  She holds a master’s degree in Educational Leadership from Moorhead State University, and middle school certification in Social Studies with a concentration in geography from the University of North Dakota.  Her teaching career began at Agassiz Middle School in 1998; she has been an instructor at Discovery since 2002.

About NDGA
The North Dakota Geographic Alliance, located at Minot State University, is part of the National Geographic Society’s network of teachers that promote improvement of geographic education at the state and local levels.  NDGA offers professional development opportunities and resources to enhance the teaching of geography.

About the Warren Kress Award
The Outstanding Geography Teacher Award was established with contributions from the Kress family and NDGA members to honor the life and professional career of Dr. Warren Kress, who taught at the University of Minnesota and Saint Cloud State University before joining North Dakota State University in 1957, where he taught until his retirement in 1991.  While at NDSU, Dr. Kress was active in many areas of teaching and advising, and was a founding member of the College of University Studies and the Council of Latin American Geographers.