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Our Sherpas

We have a unique approach to learning. We want kids to discover math for themselves, collegially, by working on an accessible mystery we put in front of them and letting them invent their way together, through error and correction, to insight and then proof. Our classes are not lead by instructors who lecture, but by leaders whose role is that of a Sherpa, pointing out possible paths and cliffs — but our kids do the climbing. 



Aaron Hoffman is a mathematician and an educator.  He loves to have casual, playful conversations about math with people of all levels and ages.  After his training (BA Swarthmore, PhD Brown, NSF Postdoc Boston U) he has been assistant, then associate professor of mathematics at Olin College where he developed curriculum and taught classes in linear algebra, differential equations, vector calculus, partial differential equations, complex variables, dynamical systems and mathematical modeling.  He is very interested in the balance between providing structure for learning and leaving room for exploration and discovery.  He serves as coach for math league, coders club, and boys and girls soccer teams at the local elementary school where he is sustained by the enthusiasm and energy of the children.  He lives with his wife and two children in Brookline, MA, USA.



Alan McAvinney is a life-long learner and lover of math. He had the pleasure of being a student of the Math Circle in the ‘90s and is happy to bring the same experience, opportunity and joy to a new generation of curious minds. Sometime after Math Circle he attended Swarthmore majoring in CS and minoring in Math. He is currently a Software Engineer at Google. He continues to believe people of all ages learn well through collaborative exploration.



Avital Oliver is a life-long mathematician, software engineer, and math educator. From a very young age he has been enthralled with the mysteries of mathematics, and how to share that deep experience with everyone around him. After completing a masters degree at age 19 doing research in finite group theory, he shifted focus into software engineering, working as an early engineer at multiple start-up companies. In parallel, he founded The School of Mathematics in Brooklyn, where adults from all background met for Socratic discussions leading to mathematical discoveries. He currently lives in Amsterdam with his three children, and works as a machine learning researcher at Google. He currently leads on-line math discussions and helps with technical infrastructure for Global Math Circle. He believes that intimate on-line discussion groups can be an engine for exposing millions of people to the depths of the mathematical experience that's alive in each and every mind.


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Bob and Ellen Kaplan began The Math Circle at Harvard in 1994. They have taught subjects ranging from Sanskrit to Gödel’s Theorem to students ranging in age from four to seventy. Together they have written The Nothing That Is: A Natural History of Zero; The Art of the Infinite: The Pleasures of Mathematics; Out of the Labyrinth: Setting Mathematics Free; and Hidden Harmonies: The Lives and Times of the Pythagorean Theorem. Ellen is also the coauthor of Chances Are… Adventures in Probability, and Bozo Sapiens: Why to Err Is Human, co-written with their son Michael Kaplan.



Campo Elias is a Mathematician and Colombian professor. He is currently finishing his doctorate at the IMPA (Institute of Pure and Applied Mathematics, Brazil, Rio de Janeiro). He is very enthusiastic about the dissemination and teaching of mathematics at all levels. After finishing his bachelor and during his masters he has been working on number theory, especially with problems concerning the distribution of prime numbers. He is currently working on interconnecting Economics, Psychology and Mathematics. Campo has extensive experience as a university professor and currently teaches online for the Global Math Circle



Dyego is a Brazilian Mathematician and Educator. He has always been interested in the problem of teaching about hard and intricate subjects, and how to convey hard ideas in an accessible manner. He was a part of the Brazilian Math Circle, where he met Robert and Ellen Kaplan and learned how to lead a Math Circle both from their example and from personal experience. He has lead several Math Circles with Public School children in Brazil, and lead some discussions with Public School teachers on how to use Math Circle techniques in their classroom. He believes that education becomes more effective and enjoyable when it is based on the deep connections and friendship that forms while sharing a mutual goal, and believes that Math Circles are perfect tools for achieving that.



Masaké was once nicknamed "Math-Saké" by a student, due to her enthusiasm for mathematics. She holds a B.A from Howard University and an M.A.T with a major in Mathematics from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She's completed several fellowships in mathematics and in education and when she it not teaching, she loves to travel. She's lived in or visited over 20 countries across 4 continents and she believes in learning and laughing without borders. 



Melinda Lanius is a recent mathematics PhD from the University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign. She currently teaches as a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the mathematics department at the University of Arizona. In her spare time she devices ways to share the process of research-level mathematics with populations who typically wouldn't have access to such an experience, whether it be through the calculus of baking brownies or playing a mathematician's connect-the-dots. Her goal is to help others to both develop intuition for what a mathematician does and to appreciate the creative side of mathematical discovery.


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Michelle Falcinelli is a dynamic and dedicated mathematics teacher. She is fiercely committed to helping students understand and discuss the why's behind the how's of mathematics, and with purposeful intent encourages students to approach mathematics with an open mind and a flexible point of view. When she earned her bachelor's degree in mathematics, she never thought she'd become a teacher, but now, after 20 years in the field, she cannot imagine doing anything else! Michelle currently lives in Rome, Italy, where she teaches mathematics to middle and high school students, as well as teaching online for the Global Math Circle.



Sam was a Math Circle student from 1996 to 2004, and taught offline Math Circle classes in Boston from 2002 to 2009. After studying math in college and grad school, he now works as a "quantitative analyst" (data scientist) at a hedge fund in New York City. He enjoys playing chess, bridge, and go, and currently lives with his wife in lower Manhattan.


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Tifin is a middle school math and science teacher who is interested in making math the favorite subject of every student in her class.  She has taught in Vermont in the US, and at international schools in Kazakhstan, Tunisia, and Zurich. She developed curriculum for LearnZillion, where she created engaging lessons that allow students to develop their own understanding of the concepts through creative thinking and problem solving. Currently, Tifin is focusing on collecting data about teaching practices associated with student motivation and performance. She is working toward a masters degree in Mathematics Teaching from the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada. She consults with the mathematics department in schools in Bangladesh, Switzerland, Italy, and Senegal, where she works with teachers to help them teach mathematics in a way that challenges and inspires students to see mathematics as inspiring instead of intimidating.



Theresa Blaisdell is a high school math teacher. She treasures her faith and her family, and she loves quilts, music, and coffee with hazelnut creamer. After many years of valuing math for what it DOES, she has reached the point of appreciating math for what it IS – a rich landscape of amazing connections with something to offer everyone from the casual observer to the most serious theoretician. She can frequently be found exploring some part of the terrain in the company of others, whether at the kitchen table, in a traditional classroom or, most recently, within a Math Circle.