Geography is a passion for Dr. Mark Micozzi. In fact it's his life.
The East Central University professor of cartography and geography will be honored for his lifelong passion on Aug. 3 in Denver, Colo., as he will be the 2013 recipient of the National Council for Geographic Education's Distinguished Teaching Award.
He is the only professor in the country to receive the award at the higher education level by the National Council for Geographic Education. He was nominated for the honor by the Oklahoma Alliance for Geography Education, in which he has closely worked with since 1995.
"I was ecstatic to hear about the award. To know some of the past recipients and their stellar accomplishments, I'm honored to be in their company," said Micozzi.
He was nominated and achieved the award by virtue of criteria, including classroom teaching effectiveness, curriculum development and service to the discipline. Letters of recommendation were made on his behalf by current students, former students, colleagues in geography education and teachers at the secondary level, whom he often works with closely.
"Geography is not just a job, it's my life," Micozzi said. "I always try to find new ways of doing things and keeping abreast of new techniques."
Micozzi actually prepares everything from scratch in his classroom setting, including creating his own lectures by using PowerPoint and movie clips as well as coming up with his own labs, quizzes and tests.
"I view my job as a part of who I am. I just don't go to work 8 to 5, it's a lifetime of learning for me," said Micozzi.
Case in point is his annual summer retreat to Kenton, in the far most western point of the Oklahoma panhandle. Kenton is three miles east of the New Mexico state line and six miles south of the Colorado state line. It is the only town in Oklahoma in the Mountain Time Zone and is at Oklahoma's highest point, with an elevation of 4,973 feet. It is also near the Black Mesa Nature Preserve.
"I come up here to work on my curriculum and professional development," Micozzi said. "It allows me to get out of the classroom with a little twist. It all relates to what I teach."
It obviously pertains to the way Micozzi lives as well.
"I am extremely proud to have Dr. Micozzi as a friend and colleague," said Dr. Gregory Plumb, professor and chair of the ECU Department of Cartography and Geography. "He richly deserves this award, which nationally is one of the most prestigious in geographic education. His dedication to student and teacher learning is unsurpassed at the university level."