Holland Banse wants to bridge the gap between research and practice

Name: Holland Banse
Hometown: Washington, DC
2nd Year Doctoral Student in Educational Psychology: Applied Developmental Science, and VEST pre-doctoral fellow
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Holland Banse is a second year Ph.D graduate student in the Applied Developmental Science program studying best instructional practices for math classrooms with high concentrations of ELL students. She is interested in math learning for minority populations during the early childhood and elementary school years, particularly for language minority students. She is also a fellow in the Virginia Education Science Training (VEST) pre-doctoral program, and a recipient of the Marie Catherine Ellwein Award in 2014.

What is your passion when it comes to education?
‘’I absolutely love teaching. After college, where I majored in psychology, I knew I wanted to be a teacher. Having been in front of the classroom as a pre-k teacher in Washington, DC, for several years, I’m sure of this: teaching is the hardest job in the world. Not just because of long hours and heavy workload, but also because of the sheer amount of research that is being done in order to help teachers in the field. How do they know what is effective and what is not?
I decided to go back to school and find that out.’’

And Curry was the logical place to go?
Yes. This program and Curry were absolutely on top of my list. The reason for that is simple: this is an applied program. It means that we are not just doing research for the sake of doing research, we are looking for the best ways to apply that knowledge in classrooms. I’m engaged in research at the Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning (CASTL) doing just that. I would like to bridge the gap between research and practice.’’

What research are you currently working on?
My focus has always been on the English Language Learners (ELL) and how they perform in math classrooms. That’s not just about having a good curriculum to make them perform better. In my opinion, it also means you have to look at their own life experiences in order to best reach them. The role of the teacher in that process is important. That process works both ways: You help children by helping teachers first.’’

How would you describe your time at Curry so far?
It’s been wonderful. Yes, the workload is pretty heavy, but you get a lot of responsibility from the start. You have to be able to think on your feet and I like that very much. I also have great mentors that not only treat me as an equal, but help me separate the forest from the trees. People that help me ask the important research questions.

Where do you see yourself in ten years from now?
I am very passionate about helping teachers become better, because I can speak from experience. I want to research what it is they really need and make that happen. It’s all about separating what research is useful and what is not. If I can do that and get paid for it, that would be great.’’

What do you like to do outside of school?
‘’I’m a marathon runner. Last year I ran the Boston Marathon and I hope to do that again next year. I also love spending time with my dog Ellie. Finally, I think Charlottesville is a great place. When I’m not doing school work or research, I love to go to concerts to relax.’’