Spotsylvania High School
Holly Polochak was interested in science from an early age. Often the only girl to show such interest, Holly was encouraged to pursue science by her 5th grade teacher, who appointed her captain of the Eco Meet team. In 2002, Holly graduated with a BS in chemistry and a minor in marketing from Penn State University.
After graduation, Holly worked selling chemical laboratory products but the job was unfulfilling. “Nothing I did really made a difference or mattered in the larger scheme of things.” She missed her work with children and decided to pursue a career as a teacher. In 2006, Holly earned an MT in secondary science education from the University of Virginia. “Once I finally combined my education with community service involvement, I had something I was really passionate about.” While in graduate school, Holly worked for America Reads and Upward Bound.
Many of the students Holly teaches don’t have a strong voice at home to encourage success in education. “If I can make a difference in even one student’s life, then I feel I’ll be successful.” Holly’s innovative approach to teaching has already resulted in an impressive accomplishment: in 2008, 92% of her students passed the Virginia standardized test in chemistry, the most improved student scores in the county. In 2009, 98% of her students passed this test.