McKee Award Recipients

2018 McKee Award Recipient

Melanie Davis

Melanie Davis won the McKee Award in 2018. This allowed her to travel to Iceland with other teachers to bring back the idea of cultural buckets into the classroom. This was then presented at the Mississippi Gifted and Talented Teachers State Conference. She became a Nat Geo Certified teacher in 2016. She was also awarded the Distinguished Achievement Teaching Award for Excellence in Geography Teaching in 2018 at the National Council for Geographic Educators in Quebec, Canada. She is a T3G alumni where she brings interactive learning, technology, and geography into the classroom. Also Mrs. Davis is a Power of Data alumni working with Northern Arizona to bring research and data of the importance of bringing technology mapping to teachers in the classroom. Mrs. Davis strives to bring the students out of the classroom and into the community. Her focus is in human geography with her students learning about their community and the people within the community who have made it what it is today.

2017 McKee Award Recipient


Steven White, a National Geographic Certified Educator and MGA Teacher Consultant, has held numerous education leadership positions in the state including officer positions in the Mississippi Council for the Social Studies and the Mississippi Geographic Alliance. He was Rosa Scott High School’s Teacher of the Year 2012-2013, the Mississippi Council for the Social Studies Teacher of the Year 2003-2004 and winner of the Jesse Palmer Award for Mississippi Social Studies Educator of the Year in 2015.    In 2013 he was one of 8 in the nation to receive the Distinguished Teaching Award for K-12 educators at the National Conference on Geographic Education. He is the 2017 recipient of the MGA Travel Fellowship.

2016 McKee Award Recipient


Barbara Boone spent decades in the classroom and countless hours outside of the classroom with groups like 4H and the Boy Scouts of America. Over the past 5 years, Ms. Boone has dedicated her considerable talents to improving geography education at the state level. She is a teacher consultant for the Mississippi Geographic Alliance, a member of the MGA Steering Committee, an alumnus of the Geo-literacy Leadership Institute, faculty member of MGA’s Pre-Service Conferences, and program director of the MGA Giant Traveling Map program. She is a constant innovator, developing materials for elementary classrooms and creating a summer enrichment program for at-risk students.

2015 McKee Award Recipient


Carol Western Paola, 2015 recipient of the McKee Award, currently serves as executive director of the Mississippi Association for Gifted Children and a consultant in gifted, geography, and civic education. A 48-year veteran of the classroom, Mrs. Paola started the Discovery program of enrichment for gifted students in 1980 for the Long Beach School District where she continues to work part-time. She has presented at conferences for the Mississippi Council of Social Studies, Mississippi Reading Association, Mississippi Department of Education, Mississippi and National Associations for Gifted Children, National Council for Geographic Education, Mississippi Department of Education, Mississippi and National Associations for Gifted Children, National Science Association, and National Safe Routes to School. Mrs. Paola is a National Board Certified Teacher and a consultant for the Mississippi Geographic Alliance; We the People: Citizen and the Constitution; We the People: Project Citizen; Population Education; and the Mississippi Department of Education. Carol Paola received a B.S. and M.Ed. in elementary education from the University of Southern Mississippi in 1966 and 1977, respectively.

2014 McKee Award Recipient



A teacher consultant with the Mississippi Geographic Alliance since 1990, Mary Jane Jackson has been an instrumental leader in pre-service education efforts in 2- and 4-year colleges around the state. She has developed popular professional development workshops on geography and reading and has implemented those workshops for both pre-service and in-service teachers in Mississippi. Mrs. Jackson has been a staff member on a number of MGA institutes and workshops, and she has presented at the National Conference for Geography Education and other conferences around the state of Mississippi. She has taken on leadership roles within the Alliance including serving on the organization’s Steering Committee and serving as one of the state’s Geography Awareness Coordinators. In 2010, her student won a national video contest on Why Geography Matters. In 2011, Mrs. Jackson was awarded the National Council for Geographic Education’s Distinguished Teaching Award.


2013 McKee Award Recipient



Ms. Hutson, Mississippi’s Teacher of the Year 1997-1998, has 28 years experience in K-12 public schools and 11 years experience teaching at the college level. She recently retired from teaching introduction to world geography, Mississippi history, U.S. history, and methods courses at Mississippi College. A charter member of the Mississippi Geographic Alliance, Ms. Hutson was trained at National Geographic Society, and was responsible for establishing much of the infrastructure for improved geography education in the state, including a robust and successful pre-service institute in geography for teacher candidates.


2012 McKee Award Recipient

Bobbie at 911 Event


Bobbie Richardson is a respected member and leader of the Mississippi Geographic Alliance and the education community in Mississippi. She received her bachelor’s degree in education from Blue Mountain College, her Master’s degree in education from Mississippi College, and was working on her Ph.D. in geography from Mississippi State University when she had a stroke. She has taught in the K-16 classroom or in informal education for more than 20 years, holding numerous leadership positions in the Mississippi Geographic Alliance and the Mississippi Council for the Social Studies, and creating and leading innovative institutes such as the traveling Mississippi Studies institute. She has traveled the world and has shared her passion for geography with countless teachers and teacher candidates across the state and the country.

On April 5, 2011, Ms. Richardson suffered a stroke that damaged much of the right side of her brain. She is working just as diligently and passionately on her recovery as she did for education. Her friends and colleagues have established a recovery fund to help Bobbie through this difficult time. Please contact Bert Nokes at for information on how to contribute.


2011 McKee Award Recipient

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June Davidson Hollis was a teacher for 37 years, the last 27 of which were at Brandon High School where she taught Advanced World Geography.  She has been a teacher consultant with the Mississippi Geographic Alliance since 1989. Mrs. Hollis has traveled all over the world to places including the Amazon Rainforest, Lake Baikal in eastern Siberia, Eastern Europe, and various countries in Africa. She brought all of these experiences back to her high school students and to teachers around the state. She has been on staff for a number professional development institutes and workshops for both pre-service and in-service teachers.