Firecracker Math Team

 

 

  AN2G0583 Ella Levine

   Program Director and Teacher

Ella Levine began her math education as a young child, working closely with  her grandfather, a math professor. She soon enrolled in the popular  correspondence math course offered by Moscow State University and  completed the 3 year program with honors. She won multiple awards in math  olympiads during her high school years. She received her MS in applied  mathematics from the Moscow Petrochemical University.

 Her PhD program in math statistics was interrupted by immigration to the  United States in 1991. While working in high-tech industry, Ella continued to teach math: as tutor for middle and high  school students and as teacher at a Russian weekend school.

As part of a sabbatical she moved to Paris in 2007 where she studied French, Russian, and American math curriculums and teaching methods. She has used this research to develop her own techniques for teaching kids.

Ella founded Firecracker Math program in 2012 to help children to strengthen their math skills and confidence, and to further develop their aptitude and abilities in math. Firecracker Math students go beyond the school curriculum. They learn about other important fields of mathematics such as topology, logic, probability, and statistics. In her approach Ella employs anecdotes from the history of mathematics, math games and puzzles that spike children interest in math, and help them appreciate its beauty and power.

Ella believes that math, as the ultimate human science, develops kid’s abilities in reasoning and logical thinking, and gives them excellent tools to succeed later in their lives.

 

 

 

Svetlana LivdanSveta

Program Coordinator

Svetlana graduated from Kharkov State University specializing in Romano-Germanic philology and interpreting. She has taught different subjects in her educational career, including math for elementary and middle school kids.

Svetlana loves teaching children and enjoys sharing her passion for learning with her students. Svetlana brings her active personality and  creative energy to Fireracker Math, and helps making our math program vibrant, intellectually engaging, and fun.

 

 

 

 

 

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  Eli Lebow

  Teacher

 Dr. Eli Lebow did his undergraduate work at Harvard University in  mathematics and physics, and his Ph.D. at Berkeley in mathematics.

 His teaching experience includes teaching mathematics to biology  graduate students at the National Centre for Biological Sciences,  Bangalore, India, and to middle school students at the Academic Talent  Development Program in Berkeley.

 He always adapts his teaching methodology to the needs of the students of each new class, but generally favors a conceptual approach to the mathematics, with students learning cooperatively and actively.

 

 

 

Sandy Zhang

Teacher  

Sandy’s family cultivated her interest in mathematics at a very young age. While she was in high school, she was one of the “Mathlete” team members who represented their high school to compete in year-round math competitions in the Bay Area.  She holds a B.A. math degree from U.C. Berkeley, and later on she also obtained a master’s degree in Math, and another master’s degree in Statistics from two different universities.  She had taught various levels of math courses before she became an actuarial associate.  After ten years working in the insurance industry, and having a young child, she decided to go back to her true passion – teaching.   Currently, she teaches 3D Math to game programmers and game developers at a local 4-year art university.  In her free time, Sandy likes to work on her garden and her sewing projects.  She is also passionate about learning Data Science and ping-pong. 

 

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James     James Reischutz

     Teacher  

James has a BS in Mechanical Engineering from the MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). He has tutored students from ages 4-11 in many  different aspects of math. He has been a teaching assistant in both public and  private schools. James works with the American Math Competition and with Wes Carroll private tutoring. James has been teaching classes at Firecracker Math for three years.

As a parent of an elementary schooler, he is passionate about  helping kids grow to love mathematics. He favors an active, challenging, team  based approach in the classroom. Some of his favorite topics to share include  nets, logic, and base shifting numbers.

 

 

  

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     Natalia Kourjanskaia  Natasha face

     Teacher  

Natalia graduated from Moscow State University with a Master’s degree in Applied Mathematics and Computer science. She has been working as a math teacher and a tutor for over 10 years after she made a career change from research and development position at UC Berkeley. Natalia loves math and loves teaching it to children. In her free time she enjoys reading, travelling, and spending time with her family.

 

 

  

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Berkeley Everett

Teacher

Berkeley is a 1st grade math specialist who received his B.A. in Ethnomusicology from UCLA, and his M.A.T. from the Relay Graduate School of Education. 

His love for math education began in high school when his teachers piloted a “new” math curriculum that allowed students to (among other things) investigate crime scenes and create their own algebraic expressions to represent a situation.  Ever since then, Berkeley has seen math as a collaborative activity that relies upon each person’s unique perspective to bring about a deeper understanding as a group.

Berkeley believes that curiosity and wonder should be at the center of math learning, and is always looking for new ways to perplex his students while also making them smile.

 
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       Christine Rennels
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       Teacher
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Christine has a BS in Mathematics from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo.  
Her experience includes working as an actuarial analyst for seven years while simultaneously pursuing Society of Actuaries exams.  As a mother of three mostly adult girls, she has over the years volunteered in the classroom, helped with homework, and invented captivating stories and scenarios to help her daughters learn mathematics.  
Her hobbies include ballet, reading and mahjongg.
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Ali Mansour

Teacher

Ali Graduated from Carnegie Mellon University. His bachelor’s degree is in Applied Mathematics and Economics, and his master’s degree is in Mathematics. Ali’s 27 years of work in semiconductor manufacturing includes working with lasers for memory repair and redundancy, and to fine tune analog devices. 

Ali loves math. He taught different levels of math to his two daughters, including long distance lessons while travelling outside of the United States. In his free time Ali reads history and studies classical music.

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Sage Moore

Teacher

Sage comes to teaching mathematics as a second career.  While earning a degree in Formal Linguistics from the University of Victoria, Canada, she studied mathematics and computer science.  This led her to work in various aspects of Information Technology supporting academia and private industry eventually specializing in Network Engineering. A decade ago, Sage had the opportunity to follow her vocation, teaching mathematics.  She received her credential in mathematic education from Mills College and will be completing her master’s degree in education this spring. In 2007, Sage had the great fortune to attend a summer workshop with the Bay Area Circle for Teachers, an organization that promotes and studies math circle pedagogy and activities.  Inspired by the potential and delight of this form of mathematics education, she has become a committed member of the math circle community in the Bay Area, bringing math circles to several public schools in the Oakland area and collaborating with other teachers and mathematicians.  She is an advocate for Math Circles and mathematics enrichment programs as it gives students the opportunity to be exposed to a beauty and rigor in mathematics that is rarely part of the school curriculum.

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Regeneron HeadshotLaura Pierson

Teacher

Laura is our youngest and a very talented instructor. She graduated from College Prep high school and will be doing her undergraduate work at Harvard University. She has been involved with the Berkeley Math Circle as both a student and instructor, and has tutored middle and high school students in math. She has attended Canada/USA Mathcamp and the Math Olympiad Summer Program, and she won 6th prize in the Regeneron Science Talent Search for a math research project she did through PRIMES-USA. Laura loves teaching and enjoys sharing her passion for mathematical discovery with others.