The MetroWest School of Mathematics has seen its enrollment
jump from 40 during its first year of operation to
240 in its fifth year.
That’s an increase of:
A. 100 percent
B. 200 percent
C. 500 percent
D. None of the above
E. None of your business
Young readers who answered "C" would feel right at
home at the Framingham school, which teaches mathematics
to children in kindergarten through grade 12. The after-school
program also offers math and English SAT classes, Russian
language classes, chess classes and art classes.
Boris Serebrennikov, one of the school’s directors,
attributes the enrollment growth to an increased interest
"More and more parents see the need for their kids
to learn more in math," says the Shrewsbury resident. "Colleges
are becoming pickier. In order to get into a good college,
you need better SAT scores. Parents want their kids
to be ready in this new environment, where the better-educated
students have the advantage."
Case in point, the average SAT math score in the United
States is 548 with 800 being the best score possible.
The average SAT math score at the Russian School of
Mathematics in Newton, of which the Framingham school
is an affiliate, is 774. (Most of the MetroWest students,
who use the same curriculum, have yet to reach SAT-taking
age to quote valid statistics.)
Olga Serebrennikov, another school director and Boris’ wife,
says the MetroWest school takes the traditional approach
to study mathematics.
"We believe our program can enrich what is currently
taught in the public school system," she says. "We’re
not substituting it by any means. We do something in
addition to it.
"Children who are not challenged enough or struggling
in their school, this helps them. And many schools
have seen the value of programs like this."
Adds Anna Charny, one of MetroWest’s directors
and teachers, "We felt the serious need for additional
math education for many of the children we knew. It
turns out over the years that many families share that
Charny was among the founders of the MetroWest school
and the Russian school along with Newton residents
Irina Khaviason and Iness Rifkin. The Russian school
is 10 years old. The MetroWest school spent its first
year in Marlborough before moving to Framingham.
Introducing math to children early is one of the keys
to the school’s success, according to Charny.
"We start some algebra concepts as early as in kindergarten," says
the Sudbury resident. "The children just don’t
know it’s algebra.
"We make sure the children get all the necessary tools,
but at the same time, we teach and strongly encourage
logical thinking from the very start.
"By the fourth grade, we see a dramatic difference
between our fourth-grade graduates and those who come
to us at that time, and with every year the difference
"When children come to us in the first, second and
third grades, as a rule of thumb, we place them a year
behind in our program. By the time they’re in
fourth grade, it’s already somewhere between
one and two years. By the time we get to high school,
we’re facing a dilemma where we have trouble
placing children in the class close to their age so
we end up creating special classes for these children
so we can introduce them to all of the material they
The average class size at the school is 10-12 with
classes taking place during the week after school and
on weekends. Classes run two hours in length for all
grades except kindergarten, where they last 90 minutes.
The cost is $135 for eight hours of instruction with
a $100 registration fee.
Before enrolling, children take a placement test to
make sure they’re put in the appropriate class.
Though some classes are filled, openings are available.
"If parents feel their children need math skills,
we are a good program," says Charny. "Schools, in
general, are not the most lucrative business. Our primary
goal is education. We frequently refer children to
other schools, in particular the Russian School of
Mathematics, when we feel the placement there is more
appropriate for the student, either because of timing
MetroWest has both an established curriculum and qualified
teachers, says Charny, noting that some instructors
have 20 to 30 years of experience. "We also have qualified
management and a pleasant environment. The kids love
it here and they look forward to it."
The school is located on a side street in an office
building that looks more like a home than a school.
Classes are taught in three classrooms.
Hemant Singh of Westford, who has two children enrolled
in the school, praises the MetroWest staff. "They know
what they’re doing," he says.
Isabel Anderson, 10, a fifth-grader at the school
and the Peter Noyes School in Sudbury, says she likes
MetroWest because "they teach math at my level." She
notes she originally went to the school to be with
a friend. While her friend is no longer in her class,
Isabel says she enjoys the school so much she decided
(Bob Tremblay can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
METROWEST SCHOOL OF MATHEMATICS
Director: Anna Charny
Company background: Located at 5 Auburn St. in Framingham,
the MetroWest School of Mathematics is an after-school
educational program for children in grades K-12. Its
Web site is www.metrowestschool.com.
RSM in Press
Russian Soution to the US problem
By: Scott S. Greenberger, Globe Staff|Date: May 7, 2001
Israelis swell ranks of math school
September 29, 2009
By Elise Kigner, The Jewish Advocate Staff
When children from Israel move to the United States, they find math to be their easiest subject. When American children settle in Israel, they tend to need a year of math tutoring to catch up.
That is the observation of Orly Bejerano, an Israeli whose three daughters, Gal, 11, Dar, 9, and Shai, 7, were born in the United States.
The Natick mother, like many other native Israelis, sends her kids to "math school," after-school and weekend classes at the Metrowest School of Mathematics in Framingham. About 15 percent of the student body is made up of children of Israelis and many others are Jewish as well, according to Principal Anna Charny.
Bejerano said she knows at least 12 Israeli families who each send two or three children to the school.
Since opening in 2003, the school has expanded in enrollment by 30 percent or more each year. After outgrowing its old Framingham location, the school moved around the corner this month to a two-story brick building at 5 Auburn St. The school has 350 students taking one or more classes. It now occupies just one floor, but Charny expects it will eventually take over the second too.
At the opening celebration, guests munched on a Sudoku cake and kids played with a giant chess board. And the ribbon that was cut? A Mobius strip, a mathematical oddity.
The party exemplified how the school makes math fun, while pushing students to learn more than they would in public school alone.
Administrators, teachers and families offered varying reasons— such as the Jewish work ethic and the power of word-of-mouth—for the large Israeli enrollment.
Charny, who was born in Moscow, came to the United States in 1987 after being a refusenik for 10 years.
Besides Israelis, she said, the school has large Indian and Russian contingents and smaller numbers of Chinese and Brazilians.
"The way the demographics work is once a small community starts coming, the word spreads," Charny said, noting that it's not just immigrant groups who are concerned about math education.
"The need for quality math education is widely recognized by the community at large - business people, politicians, the heads of large companies, the educational community," she said.
The Metrowest school is affiliated with the Russian School of Mathematics. The Metrowest school is co-owned by Charny and the co-founders of the Russian School of Mathematics, Inessa Rifkin and Irina Khavinson. All the classes are offered after the public schools let out.
The schools use a curriculum based on the theories of early 20th-century Russian educator Lev Vygotsky. Algebra is introduced as early as kindergarten, and middle school students are encouraged to take the SATs.
The first Russian School of Mathematics branch, which is in Newton, has more than 1,700 students. The Marblehead branch enrolls about 60, while 220 attend the Acton school, which now in its second year has tripled its enrollment. The school also has a branch in Santa Clara, Calif., where Khavinson is the principal.
Immigrant families account for 40 to 50 percent of those sending students to the Greater Boston schools, said Rifkin.
Rifkin estimated that at her Newton school more than half the students are Jewish.
While she didn't have figures, Rifkin said she can tell the school is drawing more Israelis. She said when the parents talk, their "hands are everywhere."
Rikin, who is Russian, started the school in her dining room in 1997 as a way to give her son and daughter a supplementary math education. She saw low math standards in the public schools, even in Newton. She quit her full-time job as a senior software engineer, and began teaching math after school in her home with Khavinson. They began the year with 10 students and ended with 60.
Rifkin's children are now in their 20s, and both have jobs on Wall Street. She said she never expected the schools to become as successful as they now are.
"When I quit my full-time job, I was pretty sure I was doing a mitzvah for my kids," she said. "Now, I realize they did a mitzvah for me"