By Jasmine Chen
Oak Hall’s Upper School welcomed another new face this year. Dr. Ugur Baslanti has joined the Upper School mathematics department and is teaching Algebra I, Geometry, and Geometry Honors. Having worked at public schools and charter schools, Baslanti finds teaching at Oak Hall quite different from his past experiences. “I like the school culture, students are respectful…administration is very supportive, and things are more flexible compared to the public schools where I worked at,” Baslanti said.
As a passionate teacher with various ideas, Baslanti had been searching to find a place where he could “be [him]self as a teacher…put in all [his] passions for teaching, help other people, and work on [his] projects”. He knows that coming to Oak Hall was the right decision because this is the working environment he has always wanted to be in.
Growing up in Turkey, Baslanti received a high level of academic achievement by his own country’s standards. He received a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry Education and a master’s degree in Secondary School Science and Mathematics Education at Bogazici University in Istanbul. He decided to come to the United States 17 years ago to pursue a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction at the University of Florida due to his need for new challenges. In addition, although he thinks that many educational ideas worldwide were created in the states, he knew that the American educational system also needed improvement in certain aspects. “I wanted to see both the theory and practice in place, what are the things that work, what are the things that don’t work,” Baslanti explained.
While still in college in his homeland, Baslanti got a job offer as a part-time teaching and research assistant at a private educational institution. Over the years, Baslanti has taught mathematics, physics, chemistry, and methods courses in education. “When I got accepted for the Ph.D. program at the University of Florida, the School of Teaching and Learning offered me a full scholarship, so I didn’t have to pay any tuition, which was great, and they paid me a salary on top of it…I was working as a teaching assistant and research assistant,” Baslanti said. Apart from teaching academic subjects, after graduating from the University of Florida, he worked as a school administrator and college counselor. “Now as a teacher, I can combine all those skills,” Baslanti noted.
In his spare time, Baslanti likes to write daily-life blogs, solve challenging math problems, and play soccer and basketball. In addition, he also does part-time work for Duke University as a STEM academic coordinator for its online program. “We are designing and teaching college level classes for high school and middle school students,” Baslanti explained.