Jobs in the future are going to demand innovative workers skilled in science, technology, engineering, and math, so education entrepreneur Steve Lake began looking for an innovative way to train …
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Jobs in the future are going to demand innovative workers skilled in science, technology, engineering, and math, so education entrepreneur Steve Lake began looking for an innovative way to train them.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re interested in STEM itself, or if your child is behind, or you want your kids to move ahead,” Lake said. “We want all kids to transform based on whatever their goals are.”
Lake officially opened his Mathnasium: The Math Learning Center May 14 in the Shops at Walnut Creek, 10443 Town Center Drive in Westminster.
“We can be a stepping stone for the kids to gain confidence; confront their greatest fear that will translate to anything they want to do…be a doctor or a scientist,” he said.
The center, part of a chain of STEM-education centers across the country and abroad, is designed to help school-age kids get the support they need on an oftentimes intimidating subject.
Lake, a 2005 MBA grad from Cal State University, worked as school administrator and operating manager for six years overseas with The American International School of Muscat in Oman. He returned to the U.S. in 2016, noting the different value placed on education here.
“The adulation from teaching was great abroad. I was struck by how kids loved school there,” he said. “It was like a second home for them. [When I returned to the USA], I thought about getting into education here and I wanted to recapture something similar.”
He began looking for opportunities outside of the traditional education system.
“I looked into franchising and saw a way to get kids and family to come together in way that they would love to be there,” he said. “So, I interviewed franchisees and found that Mathnasium was one of the most highly thought of education franchises.”
Part of that is the so-called Mathnasium Method, which looks at math instruction in different ways. Mathnasium founder Larry Martinek spent 40 years designing, developing, and refining this approach based on his experiences teaching math to kids, Lake said.
One example, is the Lattice method, an alternative way of performing long multiplication for numbers, using boxes and slanted lines to solve the more complex problems. It’s a key part of the Mathnasium’s instruction and teaches the concepts behind multiplication more clearly.
“The work that [kids] do is fun; it’s more visual,” Lake said. “It’s almost like learning puzzles. The language they use is different as well. For example, let’s say you were trying to figure out what nine percent of 500 is. With our method, we would solve this puzzle by asking `How many 100s in 500?’ The answer is 5; multiply that by 9 and you get 45, the answer. It’s that easy.”
Lake said his curriculum is not designed to duplicate what the kids have been doing in school but to complement it. Success metrics are customized for each student.
“Parents get progress reports and students get customized lesson plans,” Lake said.
Franchising and unicorns
A career in education was no surprise for Lake, he said, but the entrepreneurial bug came out of nowhere. He was the first person to graduate from college on his mom’s side and she had eight brothers and sisters. He was impressed by the effectiveness of the Mathnasium method and design, so he signed on as a franchisee in March 2017.
“I’m a list person, so I was well suited to franchising because everything is in a box and given to you. It gave me a roadmap versus starting from scratch. We have a Google group to promote STEM and work together to share advertising,” Lake said.
He said he’s thrilled with is location, which is just off of Church Ranch Boulevard.
“I found this space last summer and thought I’d find a better space, but then came back to it,” he said. “I love this area. The community is great and the schools are great. Parents are really involved.”
Most recently, he’s been concentrating on finding the right employees.
“We look for unicorns,” he said. “They are good at math, but also have good people skills. And a business owner needs to be able to count on others. You have to wear many hats. Find the people you can trust.”
For more information on Mathnasium - The Math Learning Center, visit http://www.mathnasium.com or call 303 429-MATH (6284).
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