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On any given afternoon at the Mathnasium center in Beverly, the air is filled with the low buzz of students working through math concepts and problems. Balloons adorn the space, and shelves displaying prizes help motivate students to do their best. The pressure of performing for a teacher or competing for a grade is gone, and it becomes easier – fun even – for kids to start mastering subtraction and slopes.

“It’s a warm place, an engaging place,” says center owner and director Sarah Yoon. “If we can get the students interested and invested in their own education, then they become the engines of their own learning.”

Yoon’s enthusiastic concept of what math learning can be is very different from what many people envision. Math – learning it, using it, helping kids figure it out – has often been a source of anxiety for students and parents alike. Right now, these worries may be compounded by the fear that children’s math skills have fallen behind because of COVID-related disruptions to school. 

Sarah Yoon

Among all this uncertainty, Mathnasium aims to overcome these concerns with an approach that is fun, nonjudgmental, and tailored to the needs, personalities, and learning styles of each student. 

“Your capacity to make progress grows exponentially when you get an expert on your side who is able to help you navigate the complexities,” says Yoon, her excitement for what she does palpable. 

Mathnasium is open to students of all ages, from kindergarteners all the way up to adults. The center works with students of all ability levels: those who struggle with math in a traditional academic setting, advanced math students who want more challenging material, high schoolers preparing for the SAT or ACT. Instructors are available to teach everything from basic number awareness and fact fluency to advanced calculus concepts. 

“Our whole mission is individualized learning,” Yoon says. “One size definitely does not fit all.”

The process begins with a diagnostic assessment that gives Mathnasium’s educators insight into the new student’s strengths and information about where they need further improvement. The center then creates a customized learning plan designed to help the student reach their learning goals. All tutors are thoroughly vetted, highly trained in Mathansium’s method of delivering customized instruction, and internally certified on the topics they teach.

Once instruction begins, parents or students can schedule their appointments through the Mathnasium app, matching up tutor availability with their own calendars to easily work around other activities. As work proceeds, regular assessments pinpoint students’ progress. The results, along with the tutor’s increasing understanding of the student’s learning style, are used to revisit and revise the students plan.

“I believe a student’s potential is ever-evolving – so why shouldn’t their learning plan evolve?” Yoon says. 

While instructors are certainly equipped to teach order of operations or the quadratic formula, they offer students more than dry facts. The Mathnasium approach also prioritizes the emotional aspects of learning: resilience in the face of frustration, self-confidence, openness to making – and learning from – mistakes. Instructors also try to unlock the wonder children can feel when they understand the way math concepts connect – that multiplication is really just super-charged addition, or how geometry rules show up in everyday life. 

“We don’t just focus on content, but on really teaching students the whys, the connections between things,” Yoon says. “We want to show students what’s possible.”

The methods used by Mathnasium have a strong track record. Nationally, 90% of Mathnasium students saw higher grades and 94% reported improved understanding of math concepts. And the Beverly center is no exception: Indeed, it ranks the #1 Mathnasium center in New England and is one of the top centers of over 1,100 centers worldwide. 

Students and parents are not the only ones who are captivated by the Mathnasium mission. Yoon herself came to the center first as an instructor after several years as a professional tutor, and quickly became captivated by the Mathnasium Method and how she and her team helped students gain skills and confidence in math and in life. In 2020, she went on to become the owner of the organization she loved and has brought the center to new heights ever since.

“I just fell in love with it – devoting myself to the development of our instructors, caring for each person’s story, and building strong foundations for learning and nurturing people’s growth,” she says. “There’s nothing I believe in more than the Mathnasium mission and program.”