Noblesville Grad’s Unique Learning Center In Carmel Is Helping Local Students
Photographer / Amy Payne
Kids of all ages who need a boost with grasping mathematical concepts or who might need an extra challenge they’re not finding in their math classroom can get the extra guidance they might need at Carmel’s Mathnasium learning center.
Brett Baltz, a Noblesville High School grad, opened the Mathnasium Carmel location in January of 2015 and has seen improvement in kids of all ages since that time. Two years prior, while teaching high school math at Carmel High School after a long stint at Lawrence North High School, Baltz was introduced to the Mathnasium concept by a friend and saw the potential in opening a franchise location on the northside of Indy.
“I had been teaching for eight or nine years, and after I heard about Mathnasium I started looking into it and things came together over the course of the next year,” recalls Baltz, the Carmel franchise owner and director. “When I had a chance to dig into it while I was at Carmel High School, I felt like it would be a great next phase for me. So many kids need a little guidance away from the stress of the classroom to understand basic concepts in a way that makes sense to them.”
Baltz says his facility is a far cry from being simply a tutoring center that helps with kids’ homework. Initially, each kid undergoes a thorough assessment process to determine the precise areas that need attention.
“In the classroom, kids tend to go without, if they can’t develop the concepts for themselves,” he says. “The assessments we do help to create a learning plan in the beginning that meets them exactly where they’re at. If parents know their kid is behind, rather than have the kid keep trudging through, say, fifth grade when it’s really the third-grade stuff that’s messing them up, we meet them where they need to be.”
Each of the Carmel Mathnasium’s 21 specially trained instructors helps students develop number sense and conceptual understanding, rather than memorization of individual steps to solve mathematical problems. Teachers rotate to help with each student’s individualized learning plan, asking and answering questions and reviewing concepts as needed.
“It’s a socratic-type method that we use, which helps kids understand and articulate how they solve their problems, in a way that makes sense to the instructors,” Baltz says. “Then the kids can internalize those concepts instead of stressing out with memorization of steps. And then when they’re on the right track we back off and let them work, which is just as important.”
Founded in 2002, the first Mathnasium location opened in Los Angeles, and there are currently more than 1,000 centers in the U.S. including seven in Indiana. Kids from grades 1 through 12 are welcome, and the Mathnasium approach covers algebra, geometry, trigonometry, precalculus, calculus, as well as SAT and ACT preparation.
It’s not just for kids who need an extra boost in math concepts either – Mathnasium also offers opportunities for kids who might benefit from an extra challenge they might not be getting from their grade-level math content at school.
“It’s about conceptual understanding and how numbers are related to each other,” Baltz adds. “The sign at the front asks if you know what 99+99+99 is, and kids want to stack it up and then add the 9s and carry the 2, and all the unnecessary steps. Then when we ask them what number 99 is close to, it clicks. And often you don’t have to go any further, and they’re off and running. It’s all about those concepts, and it takes the fear away from what they’re doing in school.”
Mathnasium learning center is located at 365 West 116th Street, #130 in Carmel. For more info and to schedule an assessment, call 317-449-3387 or visit mathnasium.com/carmel. Mathnasium Carmel serves the greater Carmel area including West Carmel and The Village of West Clay, Westfield, and Nora and Washington Township in Indianapolis.