Writer / Christy Heitger-Ewing
Mathnasium, a franchise math learning center with more than 900 locations, provides students a place of support outside of school that serves their specific math needs. While some students need help catching up to their current grade level, others who are accelerated need enrichment help to push them to reach their potential.
When Drew Gehman suggested to his wife, Wendy, that they open a Mathnasium franchise in Brownsburg, she was intrigued. A former public school teacher, Wendy knew from experience the gains students can make when they are given an individualized curriculum plan designed just for them.
The couple convinced their oldest son, Isaac, a recent Rose-Hulman graduate, to join them in running the business, and in August 2018, Mathnasium of Brownsburg opened. The instructors at Mathnasium are equipped to tutor any level taught in a standard grade-school curriculum.
“We cover everything from adding, subtracting and generally manipulating numbers on a number line all the way up to pre-calculus,” Wendy says.
Open Mondays through Thursdays from 3-7:30 p.m. and Sundays from 1-5 p.m., students can come in daily, though most usually opt to come 2-3 times a week for one-hour sessions. Mathnasium operates on a monthly enrollment basis rather than an hourly tutorial basis.
Each student has a custom curriculum that is contained in a binder and is kept on site (no Mathnasium work goes home). With a 4:1 student-to-teacher ratio, instructors rotate around the room, providing students one-on-one attention when they need it, touching base when a new concept is introduced, answering questions and then stepping back and giving students individual time to work and grow their confidence. And that’s a key component as instructors find that, overwhelmingly, confidence is these students’ biggest hurdle.
“It’s not that the students can’t learn math,” Wendy says. “It’s that they feel like they can’t learn math. They start telling themselves that the subject is hard and that they’re stupid.”
That’s why instructors nip self-defeatist thinking in the bud before it manifests itself as a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Though sometimes parents try to tutor their own children or recruit siblings to attempt to help in the process, learning usually goes more smoothly when an unbiased third party gets involved like Mathnasium.
“We’re trained to do this,” Isaac says. “We understand the material. Plus, we know how to handle different attitudes. We make this into a positive space for students so they affiliate coming here with experiencing success.”
They’ve seen tears initially when kids first arrive at the center. Within a few weeks, however, instructors begin to see big smiles, high-fives and altered attitudes. They even have a “Brag Board” where students can display math-related work they’ve done at school that they’re proud of.
In a nutshell, Mathnasium is all about encouraging and empowering students so that they learn they can do math on their own and even excel at it. Since they opened, the staff has already witnessed several amazing student success stories. For example, one girl who started at 2.5 grade levels behind, pushed through the first level in three-months’ time and is expected to be on track for where she needs to be well before the end of this school year.
“Now that she’s improved, it’s kind of exponential growth,” Isaac says. “She’s confident about it, she’s excited to keep pushing forward, and she realizes she has this potential within her and that’s made her accelerate so much faster than expected.”
Mathnasium offers free one-hour assessments so parents can find out their child’s current level as well as what may be done to enhance their growth. Parents receive a copy of their child’s learning plan and information about the program’s process.
“To me, that’s huge to be able to know that I’m sending parents back into the world with more understanding about their kid’s needs,” Isaac says.
Mathnasium is located at 315 W. Northfield Dr. in Brownsburg. For more information, visit mathnasium.com/brownsburg or call 317-754-MATH.