Russian School targets mathematics in Buffalo Grove

"You have to build it like bricks," said Anna Kozhemyakov, pricipal of the future Russian School of Mathematics in Buffalo Grove, of how children grasp the oft-challenging subject. | Ronnie Wachter/Sun-Times Media
Ronnie Wachter
rwachter@pioneerlocal.com | @RonnieWachter
June 20 12:16 p.m.
TRAVEL TO RUSSIA IN AN AFTERNOON

The Russian School of Mathematics will operate from 4-8 p.m. Monday-Friday and by appointment on Saturdays. Staff will hold an open house from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on June 28 at the Forever Young Senior Center, 818 Chaddick Drive in Wheeling.

The school’s actual location will open in September at 125 Milwaukee Ave. in Buffalo Grove.

They looked at each other and smiled. Anna Kozhemyakov and her staff said they heard the same question two weeks ago, and they know they will hear it again.

Japan, China and India are producing the world’s leading mathematics minds, while Russia has rarely been known for its technical prowess, so why would Buffalo Grove parents send their students to the Russian School of Mathematics?

“Our approach and Singapore’s approach are exactly the same,” answered Kozhemyakov, the principal of the soon-opening RSM.

“Math education here is based on memorization,” she said of the typical American system. “Our math education is based on understanding.”

RSM is an after-school-only program that serves kindergarteners through high school seniors, enriching their study of math. Students will drop in for two-hour study sessions, usually once a week, twice in some cases. Kozhemyakov said she should be able to serve about 1,200 students in her future building’s seven classrooms.

Buffalo Grove will be the 21st location of the RSM chain, which spans six states. All are open to students of every ethnic background. Kozhemyakov, some of her existing staff, and RSM founders Inessa Rifkin and Irina Khavinson are of Russian descent, but the teachers and most of the 11,000 students are American.

“It’s not a school for Russian-speaking people,” said Kozhemyakov , a native of St. Petersburg said. “We’re talking about the Russian approach.”

Although the Russian approach is not heralded much on the international stage these days, the cosmonauts were in space before any astronauts.

Kozhemyakov said she is confident the business will attract quality teachers, even though traditional public schools all have their hiring and firing done for the year.

“I’ve gotten a lot of calls from people who want to be a part of this,” she said.

“I love to use different methods of teaching,” Kozhemyakov said. Those techniques sometimes involve the whole classroom, other times groups of four or two kids, she said.

“Buffalo Grove is surrounded by good neighborhoods that have good schools,” Kozhemyakov said.

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TRAVEL TO RUSSIA IN AN AFTERNOON

The Russian School of Mathematics will operate from 4-8 p.m. Monday-Friday and by appointment on Saturdays. Staff will hold an open house from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on June 28 at the Forever Young Senior Center, 818 Chaddick Drive in Wheeling.

The school’s actual location will open in September at 125 Milwaukee Ave. in Buffalo Grove.

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