Our specially trained math instructors will teach your child how to understand math in an individual setting; our unique approach enables us to explain concepts really well and lend a helping hand to every student. Our tutors foster a caring, encouraging environment that helps kids thrive and learn! Read below to learn more about our talented team:
Jana Frank, Owner/Director
Jana is a former Chicago Public School teacher with degrees in psychology, education, and mathematics. She was individually selected to work under Dr. Paul Sally, the leading professor of the mathematics department at the University of Chicago who created the Everyday Math Program. In collaboration with him she spent her summers bringing math enrichment to underprivileged students from the south side of Chicago. She has over ten years of private tutoring experience with students of all ages and levels, ranging from special education instruction with children with autism and ADHD to gifted enrichment, as well as test preparation for the college entrance exams ACT/SAT. After teaching multiple grades and subjects for over half a decade in the public schools, Jana has developed a passion for creating math curriculum that focus on conceptual understanding and lasting fundamental knowledge rather than drill and memorization. Mathnasium, with its focus on number sense, has provided the perfect forum through which Jana can offer best practice in mathematical instruction and learning. She is excited to bring Mathnasium to Oak Park and join the community.
Fun Fact: In her free time, Jana practices flying trapeze and acrobatics!
Robert McMahon-Lovell, Director of Education
Robert graduated from Bradley University in 2014 with a Bachelor's of Science degree in Biology. While there, Robert studied secondary education and Biology. In his final semester he ran an independent research project in order to aid future expeditions of the local Citizen Scientist organization and S.T.E.M. programs. He has a wide variety of experience working with students of all ages. Some of these experiences include being an Oak Park Park District summer sports camp counselor, volunteering as a science fair judge for Peoria public schools, teaching in both middle and high school settings and serving as a summer school aid for River Forest School District 90. Math has always been an important part of Robert's life, as both his favorite subject growing up and as a invaluable tool in his Biology studies. Assisting students of all ages in advancing their understanding and mastery of various mathematical skills is something Robert greatly enjoys and Mathnasium provides the perfect setting to accomplish this.
Fun Fact: Rob is a pescatarian!
Jenny Holtzman, Director of Membership & Community Partnerships
Everyone has something that comes naturally to them without even thinking. For Jenny, that something is working with children and interacting with people. Jenny graduated from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana with a degree in Marketing. In 2004, she stumbled upon an opportunity to merged her two passions for education and business marketing, and has not looked back since. Prior to joining Mathnasium of Oak Park/River Forest, Jenny managed educational programs for SCORE! Educational Centers, a Kaplan Company, where she oversaw learning centers for both Arlington Heights and Lake Zurich. She then joined Orion's Mind, an education solution provider, and managed after school programs for more than 60 Chicago Public Schools. In 2011 she was selected by the CEO of Orion's Mind to start a region for the company in Denver, Colorado where she became one of the largest and most effective after school program in all of Denver Public Schools. She returned to Chicago last year to be closer to her family and fell in love with the Mathnasium Method and the community of Oak Park/River Forest. She joined Jana and the rest of the Mathnasium team upon her return and loves sharing her passion for our programs to the community, but her true passion is working with the members at our center and impacting the lives of so many children. Jenny is honored to have the opportunity to work with the Oak Park/River Forest community and will continue to make math make sense for years to come.
Fun Fact: Jenny was a synchronized swimmer!
Thalia Kirchner, Lead Instructor
Thalia is a lifelong Oak Parker and graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago. She has always been great at math and great with kids, growing up in her mom's home daycare and tutoring kids throughout highschool. While in college, Thalia completed more than 20 credit hours in advanced mathematics ‘just for fun.’ She finished with a degree in Spanish with minors in Gender & Women's Studies as well as International Studies. Thalia studied abroad in Spain, visiting over 10 countries while overseas, including Ireland, Italy, and even Morocco. While attending St. Ignatius College Prep, she worked as a math teacher’s assistant for a summer program for 7th and 8th graders, the St. Ignatius Higher Achievement Program. Thalia enjoys things that make sense, just like Mathnasium! The learning center is the perfect environment to pass on the desire to understand the way things work in their entirety; she has always been intrigued by the way different parts of a system work together for a single outcome and is always striving to understand more about the world we live in. She hopes to one day go back to school in pursuit of a Masters in Urban Planning and Public Policy to continue to encourage people's active participation in the community around them.
Fun Fact: Thalia has bowled for over 15 years and participates in multiple leagues!
Matthew Pakulski, Assistant Lead Instructor
Matt Pakulski is at the midpoint of a career centered on music, but his first academic love was math - so when he found himself with some time on his hands, he doubled the foci and made an ellipse of his career by joining Mathnasium as an instructor. With his record label FPE Records ("For Practically Everyone"), and during his time in the music recommendations technology industry, he has worked to make it easier for people to connect with music by de-mystifying it and fighting elitism in music appreciation. Mathnasium's mission to "help kids learn math in a way that makes sense to them" makes sense to him, and he enjoys breaking down barriers in a new arena!
Fun Fact: Matt can count to Mathnasium's favorite number, 10, in Amharic, the language spoken in the capital of Ethiopia!
Christina Behlman, Early Childhood Instructor
Christina is a student at Concordia University Chicago. So far at Concordia, she has completed her coursework in Early Childhood Education, and is working on endorsements in English as a Second Language and Special Education, as part of her mission to become a preschool teacher. Christina’s favorite part about teaching is creating fun ways for students to learn math and other subjects that make students excited and eager learners. She also loves to incorporate books into every subject! Christina is originally from St. Louis, Missouri, and has had many opportunities to teach math, from nannying afterschool, to assisting in a preschool. In her free time, she participates in multiple honor’s programs on campus and many service events. Christina is excited to be able to share her love and knowledge of math!
Fun Fact: Christina has pet Sugar Gliders!
Sagana Ondande, Instructor
Sagana is currently a senior at Oak Park and River Forest High School. Before he came to Mathnasium, he spent a summer in Kenya tutoring classes of 30 students in Math and English and loved tutoring so much that he continued. He is currently taking AP Calculus BC and AP Computer Science and trained in all the classes up to Calculus AB. He loves applying the skills learned in math into his daily life, and will also find himself using them during choir! Sagana is a singer, competitive Ultimate Frisbee player, and a member of OPRF Noteworthy show choir. He loves working at Mathnasium!!
Fun Fact: Sagana plays a total of 12 instruments!
Lydia Heinig, Instructor
Lydia is currently a senior at Oak Park and River Forest High School. So far in her education she has mastered Algebra, Geometry and Precalculus and Calculus at the AP level. She is also taking a Leadership Class that develops important tutoring and mentoring skills. Lydia is excited to put her knowledge to use and help other students succeed and be the best that they can be because she understands the frustrations that math can bring, but also the importance of it in a student’s education. In addition, she loves working with kids of any age and has many prior experiences that include volunteering at her church, First Presbyterian Church of River Forest, during their weeklong summer camps and volunteering at the Alliance Francaise for their French camp. Lydia also plays the piano, runs cross country, and participates in lacrosse. She is thrilled to be apart of the Mathnasium Team!
Fun Fact: Lydia has a fraternal twin sister!
Liam Peachey, Instructor
Liam is currently a senior at Oak Park River Forest High School. He has loved the STEM field for as long as he can remember, and by extension has found math to consistently be one of his favorite classes. He is currently taking calculus. Outside of school, Liam enjoys activities such as rock climbing, kayaking, and practices a martial art known as aikido. He plays the violin in one of the school’s orchestras, and he has participated in a Japanese exchange program. Liam is excited to become a part of the Mathnasium team!
Pedro Hurtado, Instructor
Pedro has had a passion for math since he was a little kid. He has always enjoyed working with other students to help them achieve a deeper understanding and appreciation of mathematics. Pedro decided he wanted to pursue an undergraduate degree in Bioengineering because he wanted to see the medical application of mathematics in the real world. He is in the final semester before graduating at the University of Illinois at Chicago. One semester, he participated in doing research analyzing cerebral hemodynamics. He was using linear algebra to calculate blood flow in various regions of the brain. He has taken the traditional engineering math courses such as Calculus 1, 2, 3, Differential Equations, and Linear Algebra. He believes mathematics is and will always be an important part of our lives so it is essential to have a strong basic understanding of the subject. Above all, mathematics challenges students to think logically and teaches them problem solving techniques.
Julia Meister, Instructor
Julia is currently a senior at Oak Park and River Forest High School. She has taken courses in algebra, geometry, precalculus, and is now studying calculus at the AP level. This year, Julia has focused more of her time and energy on improving her math skills as a journey of self-improvement. She’s done this by trying to immerse herself in math outside of the classroom, which she has done by joining her school’s Math Team and getting a job at Mathnasium! Julia is excited to combine her interest in math with her experience in working with children. In addition to coming from a family of four and years of experience babysitting, Julia also worked at West Suburban Special Recreation Association’s Day Camp last summer at Unity Junior High in Cicero. As a result of these experiences, Julia understands the importance of patience and positivity when working with kids. Julia is also on staff for her school’s yearbook, Tabula, and is an Ambassador Girl Scout currently working to obtain her Gold Award through a partnership with WSSRA.
Fun Fact: Julia has a pet fish named after actor-wrestler Dwayne "The Rock" Johson!
Zach Brown, Instructor
Zach is a senior at Oak Park River Forest High School, where he has taken Geometry, Pre-Calculus, Calculus BC, and Computer Science courses. He loves finding new ways to approach difficult problems, whether in his classes at school or solving puzzles on his own. He especially relishes the challenge of finding new ways to communicate a solution to others, and the sense of achievement when understanding is reached. When he’s not furiously working on a Problem Set, he can be found volunteering to collect used soccer gear, participating in his school’s Model UN club, or playing guitar. He’s excited to share his love of math!
Fun Fact: Zach published an essay which was a best-seller in its category on Amazon!
Alyssa Mandell, Instructor
Alyssa is a senior at Oak Park and River Forest High School. She has always been passionate about math and working with kids, and is excited to have the opportunity to combine them. Her favorite aspect of math is that there is always a definitive answer and that there are many ways to arrive at that answer. In addition to working at Mathnasium, Alyssa has volunteered with Hephzibah and is involved in Future Philanthropist Program, along with giving back to the community any chance she gets. She is a part of Student Council at OPRF. She looks forward to becoming part of the Mathnasium family!
Fun Fact: Alyssa has 1 younger sister!
Racquel Hernandez, Instructor
Racquel is in her junior year at Oak Park and River Forest High School. She has always been passionate about math since elementary school and loves using logic, creativity, and persistence to solve problems. She is trained in Pre-Calculus, Geometry, and Algebra I & II. Currently, she is excited to be taking on the challenge of AP Calculus BC. Racquel also loves working with kids. She enjoys seeing their face when they grasp a new subject and wants every child to understand both the value and fun in math. She has volunteered at Beye Elementary School for two years now, where she tutored students in various subjects, including math. From those two years, and previous experiences with kids, she understands that every student learns in different ways. She is excited to work with many different kids at Mathnasium and hopefully get them to enjoy math as much as she does! When she is not working on math or working with kids, Racquel enjoys playing piano, singing in the choir, volunteering throughout the community and spending time with friends and family.
Fun Fact: Racquel is biligual; she speaks Spanish fluently!
Clare Roarty, Instructor
Clare is a senior at Oak Park and River Forest High School. She has always enjoyed math, problem solving, and working with kids. She wants to help kids enjoy math as much as she does by steering them around the initial frustrations that can often be experienced by young students. She has volunteered at Whittier Elementary helping kids with their homework after school and enjoys babysitting. Clare has also coached field hockey for 4th and 5th grade girls and is involved in Best Buddies at the high school. She hopes to grow her passion for math and build meaningful relationships with the students through this new opportunity at Mathnasium.
Fun Fact: Clare enjoys wheelthrowing!
Brian White, Instructor
Brian is an Oak Park River Forest High School graduate and is currently working on courses in Computer Science at Triton College. His winding road so far has included time at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and work in the real estate title insurance industry. Brian has completed Calculus 1, 2, and 3 at the college level. More recently he has also finished Differential Equations. He looks forward to helping students learn math while having fun. When not working, he can be found playing a variety of board games with several groups in the city.
Fun Fact: Brian's favorite board game is Civilization, which usually take 12 hours to play!
Chloe Volpe, Instructor
Chloe is currently a senior at Oak Park River Forest High School currently taking AP calculus. She has always loved math and plans to pursue a career in the math field. She likes working with kids and hopes to support them in their math journey and make it a more enjoyable experience. Out side of school, Chloe is a Girl Scout currently working toward earning her gold award.
Fun Fact: Chloe used to play ice hockey!
Jonathan Banks, Instructor
Jonathan is a senior at OPRF, and he has loved math since he was very young. He has competed on the Math Team since sixth grade, and he loves discussing math with his peers. In the past, he has tutored children at his church, and he earned his tutoring certificate from Triton University after weeks of training. The one thing he loves more than doing math is helping other people understand it! He is so excited to be working at Mathnasium!
Lydia Turk, Instructor
Lydia is a junior at OPRF. She has always had a love for math and working with kids. She is excited to put these things together by working at Mathnasium. Lydia has taken both algrebra and geometry and is currently looking to expand her knowledge of math by taking precalculus. Besides her passion for math and working with kids, Lydia is on the the lacrosse team and field hockey team at OPRF.
Fun Fact: Lydia's favorite food is cereal!
Matt Pilditch, Instructor
Matt resides in Oak Park with his wife and three children. Formally trained in medicine, he currently works part-time in Family Practice in Lisle. This has freed up his schedule to pursue one of his other passions, education. The son of a teacher and grade-school/high-school principal, Matt is building on experience he has gained teaching patients, medical students, and fellow church members. Matt is looking forward to Math Instructor being another successful teaching experience!
Fun Fact: Matt is an avid gardner and loves the outdoors, especially camping with his family!
John Hurtado, Instructor
John is a junior at Oak Park and River Forest High School, he has taken courses in Geometry, Pre-Calculus, AP Computer Science, and is currently taking Calculus BC. He has always been interested in math since he was a kid. He would always find himself playing with math related toys and games and that has turned into a long journey of furthering his education in math. Before John started working at Mathnasium he would spend summers volunteering at the Oak Park Public Library, he would either be working on quality of life tasks for the library or setting up activities for kids to do at the library. John enjoys seeing students’ faces light up when they finally finish a problem that they have been stuck on and seeing them achieve the “Huzzah Moment”. This is what he wants to help the students at Mathnasium achieve.
Fun Fact: John plays the trumpet and nothing else!
Sophie Schoenmeyer, Instructor
Sophie is currently a junior at Oak Park and River Forest High School. She is taking calculus this year, but has also completed courses in algebra, geometry, and pre-calculus. Although math is her favorite school subject, Sophie also enjoys computer science and chemistry, the former of which she has mastered at the AP level and the latter of which she is currently taking an AP course in. Sophie competes on her school math and scholastic bowl teams in her spare time and began a science and engineering club of her own this past year, allowing her to develop the leadership skills necessary to succeed in tutoring. She also runs on her school cross country team and has competed in track and field, softball, and soccer in the past. Sophie has past experience working with kids after teaching Sunday school for two years and also enjoys babysitting. She is so happy to be part of the Mathnasium team!
Fun Fact: Sophie's fears including rats, ceiling fans, and treadmills to name a few!
Where are they now?
Jonah graduated from OPRF in 2014 and went on to study Physics and Math at Harvard University!
Willa is working towards her Master's in Mathematical Biology at Ohio State!
Fiona graduated from OPRF in 2015 is studying for her Bachelor's degree in Clarinet Performance and Computer Science at Indiana University!
Eric graduated from OPRF in 2015 is studying towards his Bachelor's degree at Illinois State University!
Katie graduated from Fenwick in 2016 and is attending Notre Dame, studying for a degree in Biomedical Engineering!
Anna graduated from OPRF in 2016 and is working towards a Biomedical Engineering degree at Washington University!
Andy graduated in 2016 from Oak Park and River Forest High School, and is attending the University of British Columbia, studying Biology and PreMed!
Michaela graduated from OPRF in 2016, and is attending John Hopkins University!
Veronica graduated in 2016 from Fenwick High School, and is attending Notre Dame to study Neuroscience!
After two years of working her way from instructor to Director of Operations at Mathnasium of Oak Park/River Forest, Angela took the next step in her career and is now an Analyst at Mediavest|Spark on their Analytics and Insight Team. She plans on graduating with her MS in Applied Statistics from DePaul University in June 2017.
Mo is now working as an engineer at La Marche Manufacturing where he is testing and designing industrial battery charger circuits for batteries used by planes, the Marines, railroads, and power conversion equipment for industrial use.