Math Whizzes

Andrew Molina
Photos by Kamala Kirk

Open since 2009, Mathnasium of South Pasadena is led by Center Director Andrew Molina and a team of specially trained math instructors who help kids and teens understand and enjoy math. More than a thousand Mathnasium Learning Center franchises are located worldwide, providing a unique focus on math education and helping young students build confidence and self-esteem.

“I know every individual student that comes here,” said Molina. “I know how all the students learn and what type of instructor they need. We help kids at all levels, whether they’re struggling in school or want to be challenged and get ahead. Math builds on itself, so we help to reinforce that foundation. If you commit and attend regularly, it really does make a difference.”

Mathnasium’s instructors range from high school students and teachers to college professors who help children learn how to understand math in a supportive and encouraging environment. Its formula for teaching math, the Mathnasium Method, consists of three key components: assessments, customized learning plans and specially trained instructors. 

“At Mathnasium, we train the instructors to be good at teaching math, which is totally different from being good at math,” Molina said. “I recommend coming in three times per week because you need that consistency in order to see results—it’s just like going to the gym. We’re going to hold you to a high standard and we’re going to help you every step of the way. We encourage students to set a goal every time they come in and to work hard, which I think makes learning more fun. Many people think that math is something that only math brains can do well, but that’s not true. It’s like learning an instrument — the first time you try it you’re not going to be great at it, but if you keep at it, when you look back you’ll be surprised at how far you’ve come. If you put in the time, it will pay off.”

In addition to pinpointing children’s learning needs, instructors help determine what each child knows and what they need to learn prior to creating a customized learning plan for teaching the concepts that students need to master. The instructors continually monitor the students’ progress along the way to make sure that the they understand and retain the concepts they’ve learned, and some time is also set aside to provide homework assistance as well—although students are encouraged to complete their work at home.

“We prefer that students do their homework at home, then come in with questions,” Molina pointed out. “If you don’t have any questions, there’s always something else that we can do here. Good tutoring should help the student become self-sustainable and independent. “

The center can accommodate up to 45 students at a time, and students are grouped into learning pods with a ratio of three or four students per instructor. Tutoring is provided in an array of math subjects including calculus, which is the highest level offered, as well as SAT prep. Each student has a binder that contains an individualized learning plan, and sessions range from an hour to an hour-and-a-half long, depending on the student’s grade level. The center is also open to college students and adults who need math assistance or want to prep for the GRE or other exams.

“I enjoy seeing kids leave here with a sense of accomplishment,” Molina said. “I can tell when the students run up to their parents, are smiling and happy about getting pages done in their binder. Parents are constantly telling me that they notice their child’s sense of pride when finishing an assignment or task. It has nothing to do with how smart you are — it’s how hard you’re working, and it’s all about setting a goal and achieving it. Students’ and parents’ favorite part about coming here is that sense of satisfaction that kids experience after accomplishing the goals that they’ve set for the day.”

Mathnasium is located at 1109 Fair Oaks Ave in South Pasadena. It is open Monday – Thursday from 2:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., and closed on Friday and Sunday. For more information, call (626) 532-7587 or visit mathnasium.com/southpasadena

Mathnasium Arts Business Spotlight appeared in the print edition of the South Pasadena Review on 9.13.19. Support Local Business.

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Kamala Kirk is a contributing writer for the South Pasadena Review, San Marino Tribune and The Quarterly Magazine. Kamala formerly served as Managing Editor of Beauty Launchpad Magazine, West Coast Editor of American Salon Magazine, and Digital Editor for E! Online. A native of Hermosa Beach, California, she is a proud USC Trojan and pug mom to Wrigley the Pug (@pugofpasadena).

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