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Alumna Hollylynne Lee receives award as outstanding mathematics and statistics education professor

Hollylynne LeeHollylynne S. Lee, M.Ed. ’95, was awarded the 2022 Robert Foster Cherry Award in recognition for her outstanding teaching as a mathematics and statistics education professor at North Carolina (NC) State University. The Robert Foster Cherry Award for Great Teaching is a national award given by Baylor University in recognition of great teachers from any discipline in higher education. In addition to monetary gifts to the award recipient and their teaching department, they are also invited to teach in residence at Baylor University.

After receiving a nomination and named a finalist, Lee was announced the winner of the Robert Foster Cherry Award last year. As part of her recognition, Lee is teaching two undergraduate courses at Baylor University this semester,Data & Chance, a statistics course for preservice teachers, and Critical Issues in Mathematics Education, a course for preservice middle and high school teachers. In both courses, she is focused on building relationships as a community of learners and operating from a strengths-based perspective on the experiences, cultural norms, and understandings that students bring to the classroom..

It was during her time at William & Mary that Lee found her calling in higher education. Lee reflects, “My master’s program at William & Mary inspired me to become a professor. When I first enrolled, I had the intent to return to teaching middle and high school math. But through my Teaching Assistant and Research Assistant positions, it gave me a sense of academic life and I thought, ‘I want to do that.’” During her time at W&M, Lee conducted research with Dr. Stuart Flanagan on the use of formative assessment results to predict students’ success on end of year exams, assisting with teaching methods courses, and supervising student teachers. She also assisted Drs. Virginia McLaughlin and Christine Walther-Thomas as a copy editor of an academic journal in special education, learning about the publishing process, in addition to helping organize an academic conference.. These experiences sparked her journey to pursue her doctorate at the University of Virginia, where she focused her studies in mathematics education. 

Since then, Lee has built her professional career on modernizing the middle and high school mathematics experience. She explores using technology to enhance teaching and learning, specifically in data science, statistics, and probability. “I try and make tools and lessons that are really applicable to daily life, which can help everyone to be good citizens and improve the communities they live in with data-based decision-making” shares Lee. She has noticed a generational shift with students today, operating from an advocacy mindset, they want their learning to be personally connected to the world around them. Lee pours effort into her classes to ensure that future teachers use practices that reach all students, create safe spaces, and build their students’ confidence. Lee shares that her advice for aspiring educators is to, “Let your students know you care. All students can learn, be brilliant, and make a difference in the world.”

Established to honor excellent teachers, Lee is well deserving of the Robert Foster Cherry Award as she is already planning to use her teaching experience and connections when she returns to NC State University. Lee comments, “I am getting to know new norms, practices, and programmatic structures. I have already negotiated to bring the Data and Chance class back to NC State as a pilot program. I am most excited to learn from the faculty and students at Baylor and continue collaborations in the future. I am incredibly humbled to be recognized for the important work professors do as good teachers.”