MSU alumna selected for prestigious teacher award
The North Dakota Geographic Alliance recently announced Brenda Maus Morman, who teaches Grade1 at Central Elementary in Wahpeton, as the winner of the 2012 Warren Kress Outstanding Geography Teacher Award. Well known as an outstanding teacher and advocate for the study of geography and an active community member, Morman was honored Feb. 6 at a Central Elementary program, when she received a plaque from Marilyn Weiser, NDGA director.
"My students love to find places on the map and globe. So, I integrate geography into my daily teaching and help students explore maps and globe," Morman said. "During writing activities, I may ask ‘Where could your story take place besides Wahpeton?' My students learn about cultural geography by celebrating the Chinese New Year, Thanksgiving, St. Patrick's Day, and Christmas around the world and through units that use maps to take a trip to Alaska and to places where penguins live."
Morman's 34-year career includes teaching in North Dakota schools, South Dakota and Minnesota. She earned a Bachelor of Science in elementary education from Minot State University. Later, she received a Master of Education in reading with an emphasis in storytelling from East Tennessee State University.
While attending Minot State, the five-hour drive to Morman's hometown of Golva made it impossible for her to go home every weekend. She often went home with friends, and she remembers her mom saying, "What a great opportunity to see how other families live and do things." Morman realized later that was probably her first experience of geography, including human life and the effects of human activity, outside a textbook. This led to Morman's deep understanding that cultural geography can be experienced 10 miles away, 10,000 miles away or across the road, eating lefse at the neighbors.
A life-long learner, Morman enjoys travel and professional development that provides opportunities to see how other people live and do things in ways affected by habitat and resources available to them. She uses this knowledge and experience with her students so they develop world-mindedness and become geographically literate.
"Whether we are hearing a story about goats in Africa, singing ‘I Like Potatoes' and learning about the potato famine that brought Irish families to America or writing to our adopted soldier in
Iraq or Afghanistan, daily opportunities are available to experience geography in the classroom," said Morman.
Morman has completed a variety of programs sponsored by NDGA. In addition, she received the Who's Who Among America's Teachers Award in 2004-2005 and 2005-2006 and the N.D. Reading Council Literary Award. She was also the N.D. Ag in the Classroom recipient and attended the National Ag in the Classroom Conference. She has presented at several reading and speech conferences at the state level; she is a member of many national, state and local professional organizations.
The Warren Kress Outstanding Geography Teacher Award, which was established with contributions from the Kress family and NDGA members, honors the life of Warren Kress, a long-time North Dakota State University faculty member. While at NDSU, Kress actively taught and advised students and helped found the College of University Studies and the Council of Latin American Geographers.
NDGA is supported by the MSU Development Foundation. To learn more about NDGA, call 1-800-235-1948 or 701-858-3063 or go to www.minotstateu.edu/ndga.