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Meet Lam Pham: ‘I Think People Learn by Doing’

NC State College of Education Assistant Professor Lam Pham

Why did you choose the NC State College of Education?

I am particularly impressed with the shared mission described by everyone I met at NC State to serve the broader community in North Carolina.

Why did you choose a career in education? 

Getting an education opened doors for me that would never have been an option otherwise, and I want to do my part in making similar opportunities available for my students.

What drew you to your specific field?

I study school turnaround efforts aimed at supporting persistently low-performing schools. I attended a turnaround high school as a student and then taught for a number of years at a turnaround high school. These firsthand experiences fuel my desire to help improve how we approach school turnaround.

Why did you decide to pursue a PhD.?

I enjoy academic research and felt like getting my Ph.D. would be a good way to combine my desire to help improve public education with my love for academia.

What are your research interests and what sparked your interest in that topic(s)?

I am most interested in policies that help to recruit, develop and retain teachers and leaders in low-performing schools. When I taught high school, I witnessed the primary importance of teachers and principals on student success, so I wanted to focus my research on supporting these educators on the front lines of education.

What is one research project or moment in your academic career that you are particularly proud of?

I am particularly proud of some research I’ve done examining the effects of school turnaround in Tennessee. Turnaround models in Tennessee are some of the most prominent reform efforts in the country, and I am proud to have helped educational leaders and policymakers to better understand how their efforts have affected students in the state’s lowest performing schools.

What is your teaching philosophy?

I think people learn by doing, and I strongly believe in active participation in the classroom.

What do you hope your students learn from you?

I hope my students leave my classes with a passion for improving the opportunities we create for our children.

What do you think makes someone an “extraordinary educator?”

I think an extraordinary educator listens to students and adjusts to meet their needs.