Thursday, Aug 02, 2012

New math learning center opens in Penfield

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: New math learning center opens in Penfield By Bethany Young, staff writer Messenger Post Aline Nguyen is the owner and director of Mathnasium, a new math learning center in Penfield. Penfield, N.Y. - For many kids, summer is a time to put the pencil down until school starts, but math instructor Aline Nguyen says that just like any other muscle in the body, your brain needs exercise. "You can go to a gym to help you lose weight or to run a marathon," she said. This is why Mathnasium, a new math learning center where children from second grade through high school, as well as adult learners, can get need-based math help during the summer and school year, holds true to its name. The new location is the second of its kind in the Rochester area, after the first Mathnasium opened in Henrietta two years ago. Nguyen is the owner and center director of the new center, conveniently located in Penfield. Nguyen, of Pittsford, worked more than 20 years in the corporate world but always had the desire to become her own boss. She came to the U.S. from Vietnam at the age of 10, and eventually went on to earn her master's degree in statistics from RIT. She started the center out of the simple desire to help others. As a child, she used to hate math. Nguyen remembers being afraid of getting wrong answers in class, or doing poorly on tests. Today she wants to provide a nurturing and encouraging environment for kids who find themselves in the same place. Mathnasium had its grand opening on July 21 and is already offering summer back-to-school math training for early childhood students and teens preparing for standardized tests like the SAT or ACT. "It's not about only trying to help kids that struggle in math, but also those who want to advance," said Nguyen. There are four math instructors at the center who were selected from a large pool of applicants. Instructors were selected based on their experience working with children as well as their performance on a rigorous math test. The instructors include local substitute teachers and tutors from school districts like Penfield, Fairport, and East Rochester. The location has a main area for students to work, as well as a room set aside for private tutoring. The center also available for academic groups such as Odyssey of the Mind, math teams, or community groups looking for a place to meet. Each student that comes to the center will have a customized study plan based on their strengths and weaknesses in math. An instructor discusses the child's first assessment with their parents, and if necessary, the child's teacher. The child then comes to the center during the week to complete each step of the plan. Although this may seem daunting, instructors use math games and rewards to make learning fun. Learning from the successes and failures of other approaches, and from the teaching experience of its creator, the Mathnasium Method uses a unique combination of mental, verbal, visual, tactile, and written techniques to help children learn math. And there's no homework. "We're about building confidence," said Nguyen. "After a few weeks, you'll start to see a change. Once you open that door, there's nothing stopping them."

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