Our Faculty

We are a passionate group of educators, who believe that with the right approach, every child can discover the joy of math. Our rigorous faculty selection process ensures that your children are always in good hands at EMC.

Anna

Anna Margolis, the founder of EMC, grew up in a family of Russian math teachers and professors. She fondly remembers her childhood math discussions with her parents. The overall feeling that the world of math is magical lives on in her to this day, and drives her passion for teaching.

Anna holds a BA degree in Math and Computer science and a Masters's degree in Applied Mathematics. She has been teaching College and University level mathematics most of her adult life, in Israel and in the US.

In 2012, when her son Ron was 5 years old, Anna formed the first EMC group for him and his friends. Since then, these lessons have evolved into a lively after school math program. During these years, Anna was able to develop her own way of teaching: she successfully combines Math Circle-type lessons with the full-year comprehensive curriculum that covers all aspects of maths needed to succeed in school and beyond. Anna passes her passion for math and problem solving onto her students, and inspires them to fall in love with it, just like she did when she was a little girl.

Antonina

Antonina holds a Masters Degree in Applied Mathematics and a Masters Degree in Pedagogical Science.  She is a mom to three kids, teacher, and an author of unique math textbooks that teach kids using comics and math quests.  

Antonina is inspired by the twinkle in the eyes that kids get when they say - “I finally get it!” Antoninal loves making math accessible for everyone, and to teach using real live examples.

After completing her degrees, Antonina worked in the IT sphere but after having kids of her own, and starting to teach she realized that this is exactly what she loves to do, what motivates and drives her the most!

Stephanie

Stephanie enjoys problem solving and is drawn to mathematics because of its application to everyday activities. She has been tutoring and teaching since middle school and loves connecting with kids.

Stephanie received her B.S in Engineering from Harvey Mudd College and Ph.D in Biomedical Engineering from UC Davis. After working in aerospace and medical research, she circled back to her first unofficial career in education to make it official. Stephanie taught math and science and was lead curriculum developer for homeschoolers before joining EMC.

Andy

Andy is a math and science enthusiast who loves pursuing and distributing knowledge. From an early age, mathematics and how to approach learning it helped him to excel as a tutor.

Andy has a Bachelor of Mathematics from the University of Waterloo, where he also studied other languages and computer science. He also has a game programming degree from Humber College where he rediscovered his passion for leading and teaching small groups.

Before joining EMC,  Andy most recently taught math and science at QuantumCamp where he was Lead Curriculum Developer for Mathematics.  Andy has also tutored high school and college level courses throughout his career.

Andy's passions include games of all types, be it video, board, card or sports. He loves to design new games and dig into existing games to figure out how they work and could be improved.

Jessie

Although Jessie is a life-long lover of number and logic puzzles, she never really thought of herself as a "math person" until she started teaching. Math was so much a part of her life that she never even noticed it! When she started teaching science, Jessie realized that math and science are intertwined, and both are important tools to help you understand the world.

Jessie has a bachelor's degree in astrophysics from Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts, and a doctorate in science education from the University of Arizona. She taught math and science to college students for most of her career, teaching at tribal colleges in Arizona and Nebraska. Her particular interest as a researcher and educator is ways that students' cultural and personal identities influence their learning of science. When she became a high school and middle school teacher, this focus on students allowed her to create classes that built on students' interests and goals to keep them engaged and motivated.

Jessie is happy to now be a permanent resident of the Pacific Northwest, where she enjoys hiking, sightseeing, and foraging in beautiful Oregon. She lives with her wife and two cats near the Oregon coast, which is a wonderful place for kayaking, fishing, and camping. Jessie also enjoys writing, painting, singing, and acting - but not well!

Erin Sunshine

Erin Sunshine enjoys applying her engineering background and advanced mathematics degree to help connect people with innovative ideas and research in order to create a better, safer world. She has a Bachelor of Science in Applied Mathematics from Old Dominion University, where she graduated Magna Cum Laude and was awarded the Top Applied Mathematics Graduate of her class. She currently works as a Technical Project Lead at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) located in Washington, D.C.

Erin has always had a passion for teaching since she was 12 years old. She wants to help kids understand how math is applied to solve critical problems in today's world, such as performing risk analyses and modeling aircraft collision rates. Erin grew up in sunny southern California (San Clemente, CA). She enjoys hiking with her two dogs, horseback-riding, biking all over northern Virginia, whitewater-rafting, and eating sushi. Erin has lived in Virginia since 2011, and yes, Sunshine is her real last name. She has two adorable Pomeranian dogs (Kaia and Trixie) and a horse named Rey.

Luis

Since he was a kid, Luis liked to solve math problems as he saw in them a challenge in which multiple approaches could lead to the same answer. As an active person who likes to explore his surroundings, he found in Math and Science a great way to connect with people and to understandour world.

Luis has a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru, and a master’s degree in construction management from the Peruvian University of Applied Sciences. He worked on his career for over 5 years, time in which he discovered his calling to become a teacher while overseeing workers’ construction capacitation. He started to teach college and high school students realizing that he genuinely enjoyed working with younger students to help them creating a solid base in math for their future, which is now his passion and motivation.

In his free time, Luis enjoys practicing sports, reading, and exploring new subjects that catch his eye. He just started researching and studying astronomy and quantum mechanics, topics that he would like to master one day. He is an enthusiast of martial arts, and loves video games, dogs, and motorcycles.

Ankit Kotwal

Ankit has enjoyed solving math problems since he was a kid and has an affinity for problem solving. He has been teaching students ages 6-18 in a variety of topics such as geometry, algebra and calculus for the last 6 years.

He holds a B.S. in Finance from Northeastern University and is currently working as a software consultant in Boston. In his free time, Ankit enjoys hiking and playing pickup basketball.

Wendy

Wendy has loved math since she was little. It not only helps her explain the world around her but is very exciting, challenging, and logical. She has always enjoyed helping other struggling students succeed in math and became a tutor at a very young age.

Wendy graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor's in Applied Mathematics with Honors in the major from Florida State University helping with modeling pancreatic cell bursting. She attended several applied math camps in Alberta, Canada and Penn State. Soon afterwards she got her teaching certification through Western Governors University. She has moved around the country with her husband in the Air Force and taught middle and high school mathematics in IL, CA, SC, and GA. At one point she was also lead instructor at Mathnasium, where she gained a better appreciation for mental math techniques and visual strategies. Finally, she obtained her Master's in Mathematics Curriculum and Instruction through the University of Texas at Arlington.

In her free time she enjoys singing, quilting, exercising, spending time with family, and enjoying the life she has been blessed with.

Janna Vaystikh

Janna is a mathematician. To her, math is a way of thinking and making sense of the world.

Janna has been teaching math and computers to children since her first year in college, where she received her Master’s degree in Math and Computer Science.

Janna has been working for high-tech companies in Silicon Valley as a software engineer and solutions analyst for many years. Now, she is happy to get back to her roots of helping kids enjoy the beauty of math and sharing her excitement of solving challenging problems.

Also, Janna loves to travel and photograph beautiful places. She, and her husband, have visited all continents, except Antarctica.

Katya

Since childhood, Katya loved solving puzzles and watching TV shows about space. She begged her grandparents to give her fun problems to solve, and in Katya's family there were more than enough of them - most of her family members had STEM degrees and loved to teach Katya what they knew about math.

Now, Katya studies Physics at the University of California Santa Barbara College of Creative Studies. She is just a freshman, but she already has a lot of experience in teaching math and physics. In high school, Katya discovered her talent for teaching, tutoring middle and high school students in those subjects. She eventually started to introduce math outside of the school curriculum like Non-Euclidean Geometry and Game Theory to middle school students at Pleasanton Math Circle. She also organized middle school math competitions at the Amador Valley High school division of STEP UP for Women. Eventually, she felt confident to take the main stage at TEDx AmadorValleyHigh, where she talked about the secrets math holds and its infinite number of applications in our daily lives.

In college, Katya is currently taking upper division math classes like Partial Differential Equations, Vector Analysis, and Linear Algebra with applications in Quantum Mechanics. With this much math and physics background, she is sure that kids will be entertained during her classes.

In her free time, Katya enjoys singing and playing guitar. She also likes video games and cats.

Alla Komsky

Alla has always gravitated toward math. While at school in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, math, and geometry in particular, were her favorite subjects. After immigrating to the US, she had started tutoring Algebra at the American River College in Sacramento. While still learning English, math gave her the freedom to communicate. She was able to pass her knowledge and love for the subject to struggling students.

Alla had since graduated from UC Davis with a BS degree in Electrical Engineering. She has been a part of the tech world in Silicon Valley for many years, working at startups and large corporations. Even while holding a full-time job, she had continued to tutor kids in math at the local libraries.

After starting her own family, Alla has taken a step back from a full-time career. She has not, however, stopped working with kids and continued teaching math at her sons’ schools.

Alla loves working with kids, and seeing their eyes light up when they accomplish something new. She wants to be a part of this journey and looks forward to helping your children learn and explore the exciting world of mathematics at Engaging Math Circles.

Besmir

Besmir has been teaching math in schools since 2011 and tutoring both in-person and online since 2017. He has always liked math, but grew more passionate about it as he started reading popular math books consistently. Discovering the history of math, mathematicians, or people passionate about math helped him truly appreciate the beauty of math beyond its established importance in today's education.

Besmir graduated from the Math (Arts and Sciences faculty) department of Middle East Technical University in Ankara, Turkey. He holds a masters degree in education from a state university in Durres, Albania. His main focus in teaching has been programs like GCSE, AS and A-levels, junior and intermediate level olympiads since 2011, and SAT. He has also taught calculus for business, Linear algebra, Statistics, and various curriculums throughout the years.  

Besmir lives in his hometown with his wife, two kids, and his parents. He enjoys watching and playing soccer, cycling, and watching movies among other things.

Tay

Tay was born in Russia, grew up in Seattle, and is currently studying Applied Mathematics and Aerospace Engineering at the University of California, Davis. From a young age, she has been fascinated with math, and she considers herself lucky that her family encouraged her growth in that area - her grandma, a Doctor of Theoretical Physics at Moscow State University, was especially supportive of this pursuit of knowledge, and it was not uncommon for her to write up extra math problems for Tay to solve during school breaks and summer holidays.

Tay attributes the success she's had in the mathematical field to all the wonderful teachers she had in middle and high school. She believes that a good teacher - one that meets the students where they're at and helps them understand the "why’s” and "how's'' of mathematical processes, rather than just focusing on rote memorization of formulas - is one of the most important factors in getting a kid to like math. Tay hopes to be that teacher for all the kids she teaches at EMC.

In her free time, Tay enjoys reading science-fiction novels and improving her skills as a digital artist. She is also part of a group of friends that meet weekly to play Dungeons & Dragons - their current campaign has been running for just over a year now!

Heather

Heather is a curriculum writer for EMC who is a Senior at Northern Arizona University, studying for a degree in math.

Heather was the valedictorian of her high school class. She discovered her passion for math in math classes, making connections about the ways math works and why. She would often get ahead of the teacher and go off topic to figure things out, and she found it really fun.

She continued exploring and nurturing her passion for math by doing extra math activities, like peer tutoring, taking high level classes, reading extra math content, and creating math presentation material. She scored an 11 in the Putnam math competition, one of the most prestigious and difficult math competitions for college undergraduates.  She also enjoys watching the YouTube channel 3Blue1Brown, which explains often ignored, high level concepts in math in very intuitive ways.

Heather enjoys dancing and playing video games. She loves doing all sorts of things with music, like singing, playing piano, and listening to music. She also recently started doing some story writing. In addition, puns are her favorite.

Tahv

Tahv was born in San Jose, California. He originally thought he was going to be an engineer, but then, after playing with other people, realized he likes music as well. He ended up going to the Berklee College of Music, studying both education and business.

Tahv could never really shake his interest in math and computer science (especially with MIT so close to Berklee), and has come to realize it’s perhaps what he is most suited for. During his time at EMC, Tahv has taught competition, fun, and curriculum math. He is especially fond of working together with his students, likes to create new tricks to solve old problems, and to help his students find the gnome Grippo in illustrations to math problems - wherever he might be hiding.

Tahv is currently working on getting his teaching credential. In his free time he plays piano, writes music, codes, and organizes all of his trading cards.

Neal

Neal first heard about square roots when he was six years old. Over the years, his interest in math grew. Neal enjoys helping other students and worked in the learning center at his college supervising math tutoring and then later taught the introductory physics classes for a year. He studied physics as an undergraduate and then got an MS in applied physics while working in a laboratory. 

At EMC, he has learned more about teaching different math concepts, making things fun, and how to utilize tools online. He loves helping students improve their abilities to solve problems. 

Neal is a professional musician who plays the saxophone and enjoys dancing in his free time.

Matt

Ever since Matt was a kid, he always found the creativity involved in math to be the real fascination. Memorizing formulas may be boring, but problems that make you think, that make you look at the problem in a new light, that rearrange the pieces to turn the inscrutable into the obvious are where the joy of math lies. He would often get bored in school by the meaningless repetition and annoyance of plugging and chugging through endless formulas. It would seem to suck out whatever fun was left in the subject, especially with the dead seriousness of the class. 

Teaching gives Matt a chance to try and make a class where the kids have a fun time, want to learn the math, and have interesting problems to solve. 

Matt is currently a junior at Athens Academy in Georgia, where he is President of Math Club. In his free time, he enjoys practicing guitar and reading murder mysteries.

JD

JD has enjoyed math and logic puzzles from a young age and always excelled in math. JD loves watching the lightbulb come on and the satisfaction of knowing they impacted someone's life teaching them a new skill or ability. 

JD is a lifelong resident of Texas, where they live with their wife, 3 kids and 2 dogs. When JD is not busy with the kiddo's activities, they enjoy video games, board games, 3D printing, woodworking, and music of all kinds.

JD went to the Texas Academy of Mathematics and holds a B.S. in Computer Science with a minor in Business and a minor in Mathematics from Texas A&M University.

Pavel

Pavel has been working as a math teacher for about 12 years. His experience participating in math olympiads helped him prepare for teaching and taught him how to engage students. 

Pavel is a math teacher already in the third generation. He is inspired when students can solve a problem faster than him and likes to show mathematical tricks and play educational games. 

Pavel holds a Master's Degree in Applied Mathematics and Physics and a Master's Degree in Education.

Terry

Terry is originally from South Korea. In college, he realized that math was the only subject that he could fully understand and enjoy. Since then, he found that math is a universal language everyone can relate to regardless of their background. 

Before becoming a math teacher, Terry had worked as a youth soccer coach in New York. After that, he taught Algebra 1 and Geometry at a high school in New York for three years.

In his free time, Terry enjoys playing soccer, cards, and going camping. Terry holds a B.A. in Mathematics from University of Washington and a M.A. in Teaching from Relay Graduate School of Education.

Bruna

Bruna is originally from Brazil; she moved to California in 2015 with her husband. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Mathematics with a concentration in Mathematics Education from the Federal Fluminense University in Brazil, where she also worked as a middle school teacher. She is currently preparing to start her masters degree in Education.

During her time in the US, Bruna worked as a volunteer in a project called Math CEO at University of California Irvine. She was also a Lead Instructor at Mathnasium for almost 2 years and worked as a Math Teaching Assistant at AoPS Academy.    

Bruna loves to travel, spend time with her family, play with her 2 years old daughter, and play board games. She also enjoys running and yoga.

David

David has been working as a middle and high school math teacher for 13 years. He enjoys challenging students to push their limits in their understanding and application of math concepts.

David graduated from the United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, MD with a BS in Engineering. He earned the California Teaching Certificate in Mathematics from National University.

In his free time, he loves going camping, backpacking, and mountain biking outdoors with his family.

Elena

Elena completed a masters degree in 2004 in Computer Science and worked as a university faculty member. After a career in IT as a project manager and becoming a mom, Elena realized that her true passion lies in kids’ education. Having taught computer science subjects for 8 years, she believes in building a solid base for future education from a very young age. Creating this base is all about maintaining a balance between encouraging students' curiosity and enthusiasm and continuous steady work on the extension and subsequent deepening of understanding Mathematics.  

In her free time, she enjoys reading detective novels and watching criminal shows. Her sons are her biggest supporters and help her with craft projects showing math concepts and design quests to engage kids and adults in learning.

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