New Grade 5 teacher Hans Holzen blends creativity and science.
What is your background?
I was born in San Antonio but raised in Nashville and graduated from Brentwood High. My dad, a retired surgeon, was also a bluegrass fanatic. My two sisters and I grew up learning to play the fiddle and traveling far and wide for bluegrass festivals and fiddle concerts. My mom became a music camp administrator. One of my sisters became a Zoo Veterinarian in Orlando, and my other sister, who is still in the area, is a CPA with Asurion. We all still play music together at family reunions.
You’ve been seen playing music with the Middle School band groups. Tell us more about your musical background.
I had a lot of exposure to Nashville's music scene as a young person and began playing professionally at age 16 on Music Valley Drive. I majored in music and toured with bands and songwriters for about 10 years. Highlights were traveling through 48 states, Canada, and Europe, and performing on Prairie Home Companion and Austin City Limits. Also, I got to live in New York for five years, which led to me meeting my wife and becoming a teacher.
Where have you taught math and science before?
I transitioned out of music full time and into education about six years ago. I was moving a lot when my wife was establishing her career and finishing her Ph.D. in Psychology. I have taught middle school math and science in Winder, GA, Omaha, NE, and Metro Nashville Public Schools.
Are there any particular advantages to teaching fifth graders?
Most of all, I love the curiosity that fifth-graders still possess; it is wonderful for engaging them in science. It seems to be a sweet spot where they are developing enough to think about some big concepts, but still young enough that they haven't reached the "I know it all" stage. You can really see some lightbulbs go on in the classroom; it's a real pleasure to watch that.
The theme of this issue is “healthy, balanced lives.” In what way have you tried to live a healthy, balanced life?
As a husband, a parent of young children, and a committed teacher, it can be so hard to maintain a healthy and balanced life, for sure. Fortunately, my wife and I are great partners and enablers for healthy eating and exercise. We choose to eat a lot of fresh food, and she's good at shaming me when she knows I'm indulging in sweets too much! We realize that exercise is connected to a healthy mind, so we try to prioritize workouts when we can. It certainly helps to have facilities on campus for that and to have healthy and delicious options for lunch every day at Ensworth. Other things that help me keep a healthy mind and attitude are cooking for my family and playing my mandolin (even if it's only a few minutes at a time).
How do you see Ensworth as encouraging healthy, balanced lives for their students?
Ensworth does an excellent job of encouraging a healthy life for students. The physical education staff here is the best I've ever seen, and the students' involvement in PE and recess are seen as an important part of every day. The food is fresh, varied, made with high-quality ingredients, and expertly prepared. I also think it helps that the students know the chefs and the kitchen staff. The people feeding us are putting a lot of love and craft into what they do, and that can be felt by the students and teachers.