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updated: 8/14/2012 4:18 PM

Math -- the Russian way -- is coming to Naperville

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Margarita V. Bravova

The Russian School of Mathematics (RSM), one of the largest specialized after-school programs in the United States and a leader in K-12 math education, is happy to announce the opening of its newest branch in Naperville this fall.

The school was born 15 years ago , in a single classroom in Boston, the brainchild of two Russian emigrants, Inessa Rifkin and Irene Khavinson. Mrs. Rifkin, underwhelmed with the math education that her teenage son was receiving in his American public school, decided to create her own math class based on the way she was taught as a child. She was soon joined by Mrs. Khavinson and several more eager students. Today RMS has grown to over 6,000 students and more than a dozed branches across 5 states.

The school's prodigious success is based entirely on the success of its students: high school juniors attending the after-school program average 774 (out of 800) on their SAT math scores, and most go on to attend prestigious colleges and universities, including Harvard, MIT, Princeton, Stanford and Columbia.

The pitch of RSM program lies in its approach to curriculum and pedagogy. For children in kindergarten up to 7th grade, the workload is 2 hours of class time per week plus an hour of homework; it doubles for those in grades 8-12. Each student is assigned problems based on her or his individual level, which is assessed continuously throughout the program, and the problems become progressively more complex as they build upon previously learned material. Moreover, knowledge is not bestowed upon, but is derived by students themselves as they work through problems on their own while teachers circulate among them to monitor progress and help through rough patches.

The focus is on acquiring a depth of knowledge-not breadth: the school eschews route repetition and memorization, encouraging instead a full understanding of a handful of topics covered each year. Such skills can translate far beyond success in the classroom, as students are able to develop a multifaceted and creative approach to almost any problem and gain confidence in their cognitive abilities.

The Naperville branch of RSM is operated by Dr. Mikhail Korenman, who has been teaching in secondary education both in Russia and the United States for over 25 years. For more information, visit or call (331) 202-8254.