My Biz: Mathnasium in Cedar Rapids helps things add up

Small business aims to show students 'the fun of math'

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CEDAR RAPIDS — Ever since she was a child, Jeanne Giles has enjoyed math.

“My parents were both teachers and my dad would always do fun matching and other math games with us,” she said.

Having spent most of her career as an actuary, Giles decided a few years back that she wanted to teach it. “I decided I wanted a different challenge and to do something fun with math again.”

Today, thanks to her math-only learning center, Mathnasium in Cedar Rapids, she’s trying to make sure area children grow up loving math, too, whether it comes easily to them or is a challenge. “We want to help kids do better with math but we also want them to see the fun of math.”

Giles opened the business in 2010, then added a second location in 2014 to accommodate the growing program.

Open afternoons and evenings as well has for a few hours on Saturdays and Sundays, students who work with Mathnasium — ranging from second to 12th grade — have a monthly membership that allows them to drop in for a one-hour session two to three times a week.

“Our instructors are taught to engage one on one with our students,” said Giles, noting that Mathnasium has its own curriculum it follows but that they also support school curricula.

There also are logic and math games for students to play to break up some of the pencil and paper work.

“Then we meet with parents every four months to go over their child’s growth and retention,” she added.

“We meet students where ever they are in math and customize a program for each of our students. We are challenging them to think and go further,” she said.

Giles noted that about one-third of Mathnasium students are behind in their math skills and seeking to strengthen them, while another third are excelling at math and want Mathnasium to provide an additional challenge.

“Kids don’t have to be embarrassed to come here because everyone is just trying to get better at math. No one knows what level everyone is at because the program is individualized,” Giles said.

Mathnasium moved to a new location off Collins Road in February.

Giles said this time of year is a bit slower — summer is actually the busiest time of year — as students go back to school. But enrollment will pick up later this fall after parent-teacher conferences.

AT A GLANCE

Owner and center director: Jeanne Giles

Company: Mathnasium

Address: 1501 51st St. NE, Cedar Rapids

Phone: (319) 294-0200

Website: http://www.mathnasium.com/cedarrapids

l Know a business running for at least a year that would make a good “My Biz”? Contact michaelchevy.castranova@thegazette.com

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