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MathAltitude's Teaching Techniques That Add Up to Better Math Grades

By Pamela Sosnowski

Compared to other courses, mathematics has earned perhaps the toughest reputation for challenging students of all ages. The MathAltitude School of Mathematics in Worcester, however, is aiming to change that reputation. The first school in Worcester to offer comprehensive mathematical education to students in kindergarten through high school, MathAltitude uses a variety of teaching methods to help students improve in math or help those already doing well to excel further.

"Unlike many traditional methods, which are based on mere memorizing and repetitious drills, our program is free from annoying boredom," says the school's Principal and Co-founder, Olga Serebrennikov. "We discourage teaching to the test in any form, though success in those tests has become an inevitable 'side-effect' of children who enroll in MathAltitude. Math, when presented through the meaning and inner (vertical) links between different topics, is full of fun, enjoyable to master, and joyfully rewarding. As a part of our curricula, we define the ultimate goals of math learning."

Serebrennikov and her husband Boris founded MathAltitude to respond to the growing concerns over mathematics education in America. Both have more than 20 years of experience in industries that use mathematics and have a passion for teaching. MathAltitude's program operates after school and on weekends. A small class size of only eight students per instructor ensures that each pupil receives the individualized attention they need.

"We at MathAltitude believe the success of a program as ours is largely dependent on the personality of its founders, experience of the teachers, their love and appreciation for the subjects they teach, and their willingness to adjust to the needs of their students without sacrificing the quality of education," explains Serebrennikov. "There cannot be one-for-all solutions tailored to fit everybody. Innovative curricula, the power of the teacher-student relationship, individualized high quality instruction and parents' participation in the learning process are the integral parts of MathAltitude's foundation and success."

According to Serebrennikov, students who begin mathematical instruction early can expect to be ahead of their peers academically in the coming years. "The students who begin working with us in elementary school are ready for advanced algebra and geometry by 7th and 8th grade," she says. "Many are taking classes equivalent to high school algebra honors 1 and 2 while still in 7th and 8th grade. Many of these students doubling on the math subjects are able to construct elaborate proofs and solve geometry problems that their older siblings would struggle with in high school."

Whether or not a student seeks a career in mathematics, MathAltitude helps hundreds of students each year gain confidence that benefits their entire learning experience. Says Serebrennikov, "Our goal as parents and educators is to equip students with the best education possible whether it is in math, science or anything else they choose to study."

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