Math in the Time of War

This article will not be about teaching, as it usually is on our blog. We’ve been busy and would like to share a little bit with you about the life of the school in the past month.

Our school was founded by people born in Ukraine and Russia. So many of us – teachers, students and their families – are heartbroken and worried for relatives and friends who have found themselves in a war zone and are now refugees in other countries. From the first days of the war, the EMC team joined the relief efforts, and our workload has since doubled. Goodbye sleep, but we are truly honored to be able to contribute in our own ways.

Right away EMC staff mobilized and dived right into fundraising, sending humanitarian aid, and providing personal support for people affected by the war. While we personally continue contributing to various organizations and families, as a school we have decided to help with something that we know we are definitely great at – teaching kids! We started hosting free online lessons for kids impacted by the war – logic, puzzles, math games. These had the intention of giving parents the much needed respite while their kids learned something new. The classes were a chance to distract kids, even for a few hours, from their harsh reality.  We arranged the class schedule so that students from any time zone could join. For our teachers Janna Vaystikh and Anna Margolis this means getting up at 6am to teach the free lessons, and then continuing to a regular day of teaching at EMC. They have been on this schedule for 3 weeks now and are inspired by the ability to connect with and help children personally.

During the first days of the free lessons, a real miracle happened. Many other teachers and schools were inspired by the project. Not just math teachers, but music, art, physics, English, science teachers from all over the world wanted to offer their time as well! This is when Anya Netchitailo and her husband Ilya created the portal, where any teacher could offer free lessons to kids affected by the war.  In the past three weeks a community spanning many countries grew around the project – if you look at the schedule page, you can see over 80 different lessons being taught throughout the week! Our Telegram has over 300 active members. Biology, ballet, physics, chess, Czech, English, math, art, and singing are just a few of the options. Over 40 teachers are contributing to the project, with many more in queue to get their classes listed!

We break out in tears every time we read another grateful parent note. The project is taking on a life of its own, with many volunteers helping make it a reality. We are so proud to have stood at the origins of this! Participating ourselves and inspiring others in helping and supporting each other is the best difference we could have made.

While helping kids, we didn’t forget about the affected adults. Because of the war, many Ukrainian teachers lost their jobs. Our team decided to hire and train (in our methodology) several great mathematicians from Ukraine. We are now looking to fill their classes. If you want to help these teachers, sign up here. Teachers who were impacted by the war also need help!

War efforts aside, we of course continue working with our amazing EMC students. We are creating and running workshops to help students prepare for math competitions such as Math Kangaroo and NOETIC. We are polishing our summer program – it’s important to keep kids’ minds active during long breaks no matter where they spend them (we are so grateful for Zoom!). Take a look at our summer schedule, and the variety of options from fun math to competition math and intensives. Registration is open, and we recommend registering soon – it’s crazy to realize but summer is very close!

The school is busier than usual, but we are so happy and grateful to continue doing what we were born to do – teaching math.

Join us!

from a parent, posted on Telegram: Hi Anna! I don’t know what to add, but wanted to say you are an incredibly talented teacher and kind human! Misha just attended the 7-9 group and he is so excited! We can feel your brightness, kindness, and calmness through the screen! And this might be even more important than math – being around people like you! The way you carefully guide unprepared students and take them from “this is impossible to solve, I won’t even try” to “this is so simple” is so impressive. Thank you so much!

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