Carlee Hollenbeck Wins Knowles Science Teaching Fellowship

Carlee Hollenbeck

Originally from Tecumseh, MI, where she attended Tecumseh High School, Carlee Hollenbeck knew from the outset of her studies at GVSU that she wanted to major in mathematics and eventually be a high school mathematics teacher. She had little idea that a future of editing books, student teaching abroad, and a Knowles Science Teaching fellowship awaited her.

Carlee has thoroughly enjoyed her academic experiences at the university and has taken full advantage of several opportunities that have arisen. Based on her strong work in a key core course, she was recommended to Dr. Char Beckmann to be a student writer and editor for the Adventures with Mathematics book series. In that role, Carlee gained experience as a developer and evaluator of mathematics curriculum materials and continued to build her writing skills. She reports that this is just one excellent example of several ways that she has appreciated and benefited from the connections that she has made with mathematics department peers and faculty; these connections and experiences have provided tangible preparation for her future work as a teacher. More about the Adventures with Mathematics book series can be learned elsewhere in this newsletter.

Carlee reports that the courses she has taken have been enjoyable and challenging and have contributed to her development as a teacher and scholar. Euclidean geometry generated a new passion for teaching that subject to high school students. Modern algebra challenged her mathematically and helped her develop a deeper understanding of key mathematical concepts. An honors course centered on popular culture enabled her to engage in literature about history and find some meaning with the topic from a deeper perspective.

Through all of this preparation, Carlee began to prepare for plans after graduation. She aspires to obtain a position as a high school math teacher, preferably one that has an emphasis on teaching geometry. After several years in the field, she would love to complete an advanced degree and return to teach math education to pre-service teachers at the collegiate level in order to reach more students by instilling in the future educators a passion to make math meaningful for students. In thinking about these goals, Carlee decided to apply for a Knowles Science Teaching Fellowship.

Knowles fellowships are awarded in three different cohort fields: biology, physical science, and mathematics. From out of over 80 national applicants in mathematics, Carlee was one of 24 finalists selected for a weekend interview in Philadelphia. Following that interview, she became one of just 14 fellows selected for this prestigious award. Her award will last for five years, with funding and activities to support her throughout this first phase of her teaching career.

The Knowles fellowship is centered on the concept that teaching is an ongoing learning process.  As such, fellows are expected to complete an annual portfolio that specifically identifies one area of teaching they would like to research more thoroughly.  Additionally, fellows attend 3 annual meetings with their cohort to gain additional professional development and discuss their experiences.  Finally, every summer the fellows get to choose a particular professional development opportunity on which they must invest at least 40 hours of learning and work. More information about the program can be found at

The fellowship has many obvious benefits, one of the best being that Carlee will be immediately part of a community of teachers working toward the common goal of increasing the quality of mathematics education.  The fellowship also provides professional support through mentors observing and offering feedback on the fellows' performance in the classroom, as well as financial support for yearly professional development.  Lastly, the fellowship gives very generous funding for further education, classroom materials, and even a monthly stipend.  

As Carlee looks ahead to graduation from GVSU in December 2011, she is excited to student teach abroad in one of four possible countries she has identified: Australia, Ireland, Italy, or Switzerland. Sometime between May and August, she will learn her placement country; she’ll complete an abbreviated student teaching here in Michigan in September and October, and then will travel abroad to teach in an English-speaking classroom for the remaining 8-10 weeks of the fall term. This experience will give her the opportunity to be immersed in another culture’s education system and grow professionally.

In addition to her outstanding achievement of being a Knowles Fellow, the department is delighted to also recognize her with one of our annual senior awards (insert link here + wait for final confirmation from SAC) in recognition of her many achievements during her time as a student with us. She is also a past co-winner of the Mathematics Community Service Award.

In closing, Carlee wanted to add her own words of praise for the mathematics department: “I would like to express my tremendous appreciation for the challenge and support from the professors in the math department.  Through my various experiences, I have gained an even deeper understanding of the importance of mathematics and have been motivated to inspire my future students to discover this significance.”

Page last modified June 9, 2017