Professor Julie Kolb is a faculty member in the Mathematics Department at Meredith College. She teaches both calculus and statistics courses. Professor Kolb discussed her college experience, how she became a math professor and some of her hobbies and inspirations with The Herald.
Professor Kolb says she always knew she wanted to be a teacher and mentions that she was open to teaching just about anything. She completed the first two years of her undergraduate degree at Western Carolina University and says she really enjoyed how “it was kind of like Meredith; you felt like you had a connection to the faculty, and the student body was small enough that you knew a lot of people.” In college, Professor Kolb originally intended on becoming a Spanish teacher, but with encouragement from faculty members and a humorous acknowledgment of the potential impediment of her Southern accent, she decided to pursue a degree in Mathematics Education. After two years at WCU, Professor Kolb transferred to North Carolina State University to be closer to home and her loved ones. She later pursued her master’s degree in Mathematics Education there, as well.
Before working at Meredith, Professor Kolb taught high school in Wake County for over 30 years, and in 1993 she received the Teacher of the Year award. While teaching high school, Professor Kolb “had worked with different faculty members here at Meredith on different projects.” She says, “they had an opening in this department and called me up and said ‘Hey, would you like to come and teach at Meredith?’ and I said ‘Sure!’” When asked about her favorite part of teaching math, Professor Kolb explains that “[Her] favorite part about teaching math is the students...while the content is the same, the students are not and they are what drive the instruction in the classroom.” She says that a gradual process of learning how different students think has shaped her into the teacher she is today. Professor Kolb also mentions that she “hope[s] the students will catch [her] enthusiasm and love of mathematics.” She elaborates, “I hope my students get the ‘why’...why are we doing this, why does it work, why do we need to know this?’” When asked if there was one thing she wanted to tell all of Meredith about what she teaches, Professor Kolb replies with a laugh: “I teach students! Most people say ‘I teach math, I teach chemistry, I teach English,’ right? I say I teach students, and I hope I teach students how to think and how to be reflective in their learning process...I hope I teach them how to laugh...and be comfortable making a mistake and not feeling like it’s a tragedy.” Teaching students about accepting and acknowledging mistakes seems, to Professor Kolb, to be just as much a part of teaching as the material itself.
Besides teaching math, Professor Kolb enjoys quilting and sewing. “I’m passionate about quilting...I make way more quilts than anyone could ever use...I learned how to sew at a very young age.” A beautifully patterned quilt hangs on the wall of her office and graces the background of Zoom meetings throughout her day. In addition to quilting, Professor Kolb enjoys working in her yard and has “three grandchildren who [she is] very passionate about.” When asked about what inspires her, Professor Kolb says, "I was always very inspired by my mother...she is a great source of inspiration for me.”
By Ally Cefalu, Contributing Writer