Forget about memorizing the capitals of the nifty fifty. This is what
Geography looks like at Roosevelt High School: To learn about the impact
of industrialization, students create a SIM on paper of how their
village is transformed by the Industrial Revolution starting in the 18th
century, with all of its sooty impacts on people and the environment.
Then they go back and plan a 1850s city from scratch, using theory and
further analysis to create a better post-industrialized place using
their geographic perspective.
This kind of creative approach to studying our human interactions with
our planet won Roosevelt AP Human Geography teacher Richard Katz a
Distinguished Teaching Award from the National Council for Geographic
Education (NCGE). The award recognizes teaching skills, leadership,
professional development accomplishments, involvement in student
activities, and development of innovative teaching materials and
“It’s a nice personal recognition,” Katz said. “But more important, it’s a recognition of the job our team of teachers has been able to do teaching and learning geography here at Roosevelt, and the impact
throughout the district.” Katz worked previously for 14 years at
Washington Middle School where he also taught World Geography and
Pacific Northwest History.
Katz’s AP Human Geography students might explore just about anything having to do with cultural geography, languages, religions, development,
urbanization – and patterns of how they impact and spread across
different lands. The College Board introduced the AP test in Human
Geography in 2001, and Katz has been teaching it for the last six years
at Roosevelt. It is a required course for tenth-graders at the school,
part of Roosevelt’s push to expand AP courses. “Roosevelt wanted everystudent to have an experience with AP,” Katz said.
Katz views the spread of geography courses at Roosevelt and beyond, as
helping students gain a broader and more spatial perspective. “It’s an increase of geographic literacy, which I think helps us to better
understand and interact with the world.”