2020 Indiana Geography Educators of the Year Awards

Mr. Mervyn Barenie

Mr. Mervyn Barenie, Griffith Middle School, Griffith IN   2020 Indiana Middle School Geography Educator of the Year

Mr. Barenie came to teaching middle school Social Studies from a round-about direction. He obtained his B.A. in History from Purdue University. He then pursued and obtained his M.A. in Museum Studies from Indiana University. Through this work, Merv realized that he enjoyed teaching; so, he earned his Education License from Calumet College at St. Joseph’s. Mr. Barenie coordinated the schools National Geographic Bee participation and competition, which includes the 2018 Indiana Geographic Bee WINNER, Jonathon Elliott. Merv became active with GENI through the pursuit of his NatGeo Educator Certification, which required his personal time and energy and professional knowledge … about fifteen hours of work; Merv will dedicate time to creating a Northwest Indiana Geo-Education Group, in collaboration with Dr. Bharath Ganesh Babu of Valparaiso University’s Department of Geography & Meteorology. Mr. Barenie loves the perspectives of Geography as it connects everything that students are learning in his classroom and within the school curriculum. Merv believes that Geography prepares his students to function in the world as they grow to adulthood … future leaders and decision-makers. Mr. Barenie’s family and cats are his greatest supporters! (see Merv photo)

Ms. Chassity Mahaska

Ms. Chassity Mahaska, Franklin Central High School, Indianapolis IN   2020 IN High School Geography Educator of the Year

Ms. Mahaska first became involved with the Geography Educators’ Network of Indiana as a Board Member for the Indiana Council for the Social Studies. Within the past year, Chassity has devoted approximately fifty hours of her time, energy, and education expertise to obtain her NatGeo Educator Certification AND her NatGeo GeoInquiry Certification! She also has been sharing her experience and knowledge about the NatGeo process, and about teaching Geography, with her students and educator colleagues at various workshops, webinars, and conferences. As if that is not enough, Chassity recently received the IN Council for the Social Studies Jane Lowrie Bacon Teacher Grant so that her World Geography students can study urbanization in Chicago and can create a virtual experience of this study for use by others. In her years of teaching, Ms. Mahaska has perfected the teaching and learning of the Social Studies, yet, she continues to pursue and research opportunities to enrich her capacity to teach and enhance her students’ capacity to learn. Chassity is like “sunshine” to those who work with her, and this sunshine translates to great classroom results! Ms. Mahaska obtained her B.S. from IUPUI. Her family and two dogs are her number one fans! (see Chassity presenting photo)

NEW AWARD this year …

Penn High School Social Studies Department & Freshman Academy, Mishawaka IN   Dr. Roger Jenkinson IN Geography & History of the World Award

Dr. Roger Jenkinson's Retirement

A new award established by the GENI Board of Directors commemorates the work of Dr. Roger Jenkinson. With over fifty years of teaching Geography, mostly at Taylor University in Upland, Indiana, Dr. Jenkinson perfected the art of teaching Geography and of teaching how to view the world through a geographic lens … micro to macro. Roger was one of GENI’s Founders in 1983, and he was the longest-running GENI Board of Directors President, establishing policies and procedures and precedence that created a more organized organization J

people walking across bridge

When most Indiana educators think of Penn High School, they think of one of the state’s largest schools and sports, but if we share that Penn has one of the most AMAZING “collection” of Social Studies staff, would you be surprised? Since GENI’s founding in the early 1980’s, Penn High School has been engaged with the organization via workshops, conferences, leadership, grant implementation, national/state/local awards, academic standards authoring, and much more! When Geography & History of the World first rolled out, the Penn High School Social Studies Department and Freshman Academy educators took the course on as a challenge to themselves … teaching a rigorous course with no textbook, no P.D., and few resources … like many of you. Those Penn High School educators teaching Geography and GHW have been, and still are, some of the state’s leaders in education: Christine Bullock, Steve Czison, Tim Gavin, Dave Geyer, Mary Nicolini, Keith O’Connell, Jim Schmidt… They are unafraid to cross disciplines, create resources,  teach something new and different, incorporate challenging technologies, and share with colleagues via many organizations. Dr. Jenkinson was proud of those educators at Penn High School for their action and for their expertise! (see Orient photo … Jim Schmidt & Tim Gavin are the two gentlemen on the right; see Jenkinsonretirement photo of Roger with his wife, son, and grandson)


This is the program from the 2020 IN Council for the Social Studies Annual Conference (last week via virtual) at which the Awards are presented. Scroll down to page 8 for the GENI/Geography Awards please. https://img1.wsimg.com/blobby/go/fa3aa6d2-95cb-4271-b65a-45db0fc754d0/2020-icss-program.pdf