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Working out the numbers

Learning: Mathnasium in Newhall gives students of all ages a better handle on learning arithmetic

Posted: January 28, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: January 28, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Angelica Boggs, a mother of four from Valencia, is the owner of the newly opened Mathnasium Learning Center in Newhall. A former engineer and current member of MENSA International, Boggs was motivated to open her business after hearing an ad about the franchise, followed by the declaration that her son no longer wanted to do math.

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Mason Brown of Valencia always liked math. That is, until he hit the sixth grade.

“He changed radically. We felt like he was struggling and frustrated,” said Cynthia Brown, Mason’s mother. “Mason started to hate math, and we were concerned that would set the tone for the rest of his education.”

Enter Mathnasium, a nationwide chain of math centers that tailor programs to fit each child’s needs through evaluation, education and validation.

A new way of teaching

Teacher, trainer and educational consultant Larry Martinek introduced the Mathnasium Method curriculum in 2002 at its first learning center in Westwood. Since then, locations have sprung up throughout America.

The Newhall location opened in September 2010, around the same time Brown was looking for a way to get Mason more engaged with math again.

“I loved the atmosphere and the staff. It was just warm and welcoming,” Brown said. “Mason really took a shine to the staff.”

That was the goal of Mathnasium owner Angelica Boggs, a former engineer, mother of four and member of Mensa International, an organization comprised of members with exceptionally high IQs.

Boggs, who lives in Valencia, had heard an ad on the radio about Mathnasium, and decided to open a center in the Santa Clarita Valley after her own son came home from school and declared he didn’t like math.

“Coming from a family of two engineers, he had to figure out a way to like math,” Boggs said with a smile.

“Not from me, though. Sometimes kids don’t like to learn from their parents,” Boggs continued.

Sticking out the problem
Enrolled since September, Mason likes learning from the staff at Mathnasium, comprised mainly of former math tutors and current college students studying math-related fields of study such as engineering and computer science. 

“I love the people here. They’re so helpful. We stick on the problem and work it out. They don’t just tell you the answer,” he said. “It’s just a really great place to learn.”

Mason recently received an award at school for outstanding achievement in mathematics. The youngster anticipates a career in a field that includes math, possibly architecture.

“I don’t know. Math has just been my passion forever. It’s fun to work with numbers,” Mason said.

Getting girls engaged
Unlike Mason, Amanda Tollefson, of Valencia, didn’t start off enjoying math. She has been coming to Mathnasium for three months, and already has started receiving better grades in the subject at school.

She is currently practicing fractions and brings her math homework to Mathnasium. Tollefson’s brothers, Jacob and Alex, also are enrolled at the center.

“Things are going good, I don’t struggle as much now,” Tollefson said. “I want to be a veterinarian someday, and I think you have to know math. My mom says you need math for most good jobs.”

A girl thing
Getting girls engaged in math is critical, according to Boggs.

“In college, there aren’t many women in computer and science classes. Women aren’t drawn to those fields, but I don’t want math to be the reason,” Boggs said. “I want these kids to have every advantage. I don’t want math to hold anyone back.”

Math as career path
Math applies to many careers, as Boggs illustrated.

“Obviously, anything having to do with money, such as bankers, retailers, accountants,” she said. “We’re more dependent on technology, so these math-related fields of study need people who are good it. Math is also important because it just makes you a good problem solver overall.”

Mathnasium is open to its clients six days a week. Monday through Friday, the storefront is open from 3 to 7 p.m. On Saturdays, the hours are 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Students are evaluated through testing prior to enrollment. The results are reviewed with the student, parents and Boggs to determine the best course of educational action to follow.

“We go through every problem and relate it to a learning plan. I explain how we will address any weaknesses and how the student will learn new skills,” she said.

Visits to Mathnasium are unlimited and the monthly cost ranges from $249 to $299 per student. “It’s cheaper than a private tutor,” Bogs said. “Here kids can stay as long as they want. If they have a big test coming up, they can concentrate and get the help they need. They are welcome to stay as long as they feel comfortable.”

Students as young as age 5 are welcome at Mathnasium, and there is no age maximum.

“We have a college student in his 20s who comes here,” Boggs said. “At our center, the average age is 10 to 16. You’re going to have a tough time, especially in high school, if you don’t have a good math foundation, so the earlier the better.”

Mathnasium is located at 24502 3/4 Lyons Ave., Valencia. For more information, call (661) 255-6284 or visit www.mathnasium.com.

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