When Carlee Hollenbeck was in elementary school, her parents would give her math problems to keep her entertained and busy. While they couldn't know it at that time, those problems planted seeds that served as the start of Hollenbeck's lifelong passion for mathematics.
Hollenbeck, a senior mathematics major with a secondary education emphasis, earned a prestigious post-graduate fellowship that will help support her in the classroom where she can instill a love for the subject in her students. Hollenbeck received a Knowles Science Teaching Fellowship; the renewable five-year fellowships support people who are committed to teaching at the secondary level. Fellows receive tuition assistance for post-graduate study, stipends and grants for professional development valued at up to $150,000.
She joins a select group; 14 fellows were chosen from around the country from 24 mathematics finalists. "The fellowship focuses on the concept that teaching is an ongoing learning process," Hollenbeck said, adding that annual meetings, portfolios and continuing research are part of the program.
Hollenbeck will earn teaching certification in December and said she hopes to find a position as a geometry teacher. She said math is often a subject students dread. "One of my hopes in becoming a math teacher is to weaken the negative stigma that students have for mathematics," she said. "I hope that through exploration and discovery students will gain a greater appreciation for the fascination behind concepts in mathematics."
Matt Boelkins, associate professor of mathematics, said Hollenbeck's communication, listening and leadership skills gave her the needed edge to receive this fellowship. "Carlee talks about wanting to affect change in education," Boelkins said. "She will be a reliable peer and contributor in any setting, as well as one who naturally gravitates to responsibility and leadership."