Russian School of Mathematics training brains to solve problems
By Jane Donahue For The Sun January 16, 2013 5:02PM
From left to the right: Heather Ramsey of Oak Brook, Pushkar Betsur of Lisle and Ellin Liu of Naperville are classmates at the Russian School of Mathematics in Naperville. About 50 students attend the afterschool program that opened in September, 2012. Submitted.
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To learn more about the Russian School of Mathematics in Naperville, visit www.russianschool.com/naperville_mathematics.html
Updated: February 19, 2013 2:02PM
Mikhail Korenman doesn’t see math as a subject. Instead the 50-year-old educator and owner of the Russian School of Mathematics in Naperville views it as “a tool for developing a habit of mind,” which is why he opened the school in September.
“Our goal is to help children build a solid foundation for future success in taking the SAT and college mathematics,” he said. “We provide our students with a thorough understanding of every mathematical concept and help them develop excellent problem-solving skills.”
The after-school mathematics program was founded in Boston in 1997 by Russian immigrant and computer engineer Inessa Rifkin. Since then, 15 schools have opened around the country, including Massachusetts, California, Washington, Kentucky and Korenman’s facility in Illinois.
Korenman, who has a doctorate in education from Kansas State University and 27 years of teaching experience, said the program is based on classical traditions of systematic math education.
Along with his wife, Dr. Tamara Korenman, associate professor at Saint Xavier University in Chicago and Russian School of Mathematics teacher, he said they teach math because they “want young people to feel smart and have a habit of working smart and overcoming challenges in real life.”
“We believe math is a tool for developing a habit of mind; A habit of thinking creatively, recognizing patterns, and most important, a habit of enjoying a challenge. (When) working on math problems, children get used to working hard, trying different approaches, thinking and rethinking steps.”
The location at 932 N. Wright St. serves more than 50 students in kindergarten through grade 12 from Chicago and the suburbs. Learning takes place “in an individual way, at an individual pace.”
“Ever since the conception of this school, we have successfully practiced our cornerstone beliefs,” Korenman said. “Critical thinking and problem solving skills can be developed. Strong and structured foundation is a key to success and confidence.”
Terry Chang said she enrolled her two daughters, ages 8 and 10, because she wanted to supplement their current District 204 math curriculum.
“Math is something that everybody needs,” Chang said. “Russian math is giving me a supplement for them; they are doing very well in their (elementary school) math class (but) I wanted to get something more for them.”
Chang said along with the math class, the girls are taking chess at the Naperville location.
“They are taking chess for enjoyment, something they can do for leisure,” she said. “They really enjoy going to chess and to math. It’s never a drag to take them there.”