Academic Year 2024-2025 enrollment is now open! Summer 2024 classes are filling up fast! VIEW COURSES

Our Team


Our Founders

Richard Rusczyk

Art of Problem Solving was founded by Richard Rusczyk in 2003 to create interactive educational opportunities for avid math students. Richard is the author or a co-author of 7 AoPS textbooks and a past Director of the USA Mathematical Talent Search. He was a participant in National MATHCOUNTS, a three-time participant in the Math Olympiad Summer Program, and a USA Mathematical Olympiad winner (1989). He received the World Federation of National Mathematics Competitions Paul Erdös Award in 2014. He graduated from Princeton University in 1993, and worked as a bond trader for D.E. Shaw & Company for four years. AoPS marks Richard's return to his vocation - educating motivated students.

Glen Dawson

In 2014, Glen founded a learning center in Morrisville, North Carolina, that two years later became the first AoPS Academy campus. Glen served as the National Director of AoPS Academy until his retirement in 2019. He has experience as a college math professor, statistician, and expert SAS programmer. He has been a professional math tutor for many years, and specializes in training academically-advanced and high-performing math students. Glen is a graduate of Duke University and holds a graduate degree in statistics from Boston University.

David Patrick

Dave joined AoPS in 2004. He is the author or a co-author of 4 AoPS textbooks. Dave earned the sole perfect score on the American High School Mathematics Examination (AHSME) in 1988 and was a USA Mathematical Olympiad winner that year. He attended the Research Science Institute (RSI) in 1987, and the Math Olympiad Summer Program in 1988, where he first met fellow student Richard Rusczyk. He also finished in the top 10 on the Putnam exam in 1991. Dave graduated from Carnegie Mellon in 1992 with a BS in Mathematics/Computer Science and an MS in Mathematics. He went on to earn his Ph.D. in mathematics from MIT in 1997. He was an acting Assistant Professor at the University of Washington from 1997 to 2001. Dave is originally from Western New York and is an alumnus of the SUNY Buffalo Gifted Math Program.


Directors

Interested in joining our team? Click here to learn more!

Loretta Johnson

Loretta Johnson Campus Director

Loretta is the Campus Director for AoPS Academy Carmel Valley. A seasoned instructor with over fifteen years in education, she taught in schools from Boston to New York City and Chicago, before settling in San Diego. After earning her master’s degree from NYU, Loretta developed a passion for working with diverse age groups from Pre-K to college and integrates neurodevelopmental strategies into her educational approach. Loretta also holds an MBA and teaches masterclasses in trauma-informed teaching strategies and remote learning. In her time outside of work, she expresses her creativity through Zumba, painting, and composing original music pieces in her private studio.

Kari Garcia

Kari Garcia Senior Associate Director

Kari is an Associate Director for AoPS Academy Carmel Valley. She is a math nerd whose goal is to share the beauty of math with as many who are willing to hear. She has been a STEM educator for over 15 years, primarily working as a professional private mathematics tutor and organizing programs for students underrepresented in STEM, all while pursuing a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering as well as a master's degree in environmental engineering. Kari worked as an engineer for about 4 years while continuing her practice as a private tutor but felt called to pursue education full time. When Kari is not teaching she enjoys a fun adventure with friends either camping or around a table playing a game of Dungeons and Dragons.

McKenna Bell Duffy

McKenna Bell Duffy Associate Director

After spending her entire life afraid of it, McKenna accidentally fell in love with math during a community college class because of an amazing teacher. She realized that the way we approach education is as critical to success as the quality of the education itself, and decided to pursue a career in math education to pay forward the gift her teacher had given her. She joined the Honors Program and studied the effects of teaching for social justice on student engagement and excitement toward mathematics, which led her to the University of Washington, where she earned her Bachelors in Mathematics and Sociology. She has worked in math education and educational leadership ever since, passionate about exciting, empowering, and equitable education. She loves challenging students to become their own educational advocates, and her favorite thing about AoPS is the student-led, inquiry based approach that fosters leadership and ownership in students as they engage with mathematics. For McKenna, seeing the light in her students’ eyes as they make hard-earned discoveries and begin to fall in love with math themselves is the most rewarding part of teaching.

Austin Du

Austin Du Associate Director

Austin is a Junior Associate Director who developed his passion for teaching by tutoring high school and college level students. He began at UCSD's OASIS program, teaching supplemental courses in statistics, calculus, and differential equations for youths from underrepresented backgrounds. During his master's degree program at Columbia, he was a teaching assistant for two semesters, teaching multivariable calculus and probability. With a background in applied math and machine learning, Austin enjoys working on new mathematical problems and keeping up with the newest AI discoveries; he's even programmed his own small version of ChatGPT. In his free time, he enjoys rock climbing, board games, and playing piano, and can never say no to an afternoon at the beach.


Office Staff

Caitlin Hurley

Caitlin Hurley Administrative Manager

Caitlin is born and raised in San Diego. She has been with AoPS since March of 2019. Her favorite thing about working at AoPS is getting to build rapport with students throughout the year. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her dog Gryffin, family, and friends.

Cheyenne Trujillo

Cheyenne Trujillo Front Desk Lead

With a goal to bridge the gap between the creative world of art and the structured world of business, Cheyenne’s love for creativity and interest in functionality has led her to attaining four associates and an undergraduate position at the University of California, San Diego. Currently studying International Business, Cheyenne has also found herself in positions of creative direction and leadership, both among community events and inside classroom settings with kids and teens. Cheyenne loves learning how the world works as well as learning creative views on everything and anything. She runs on coffee and creativity, and loves spending time watching fun movies and TV shows of all kinds. She also enjoys reading comics and series, and sometimes, she’s even writing some.

Ashley Arner

Ashley Arner Front Desk Associate

Born and raised in San Diego, Ashley is deeply connected to the area. A senior and soon-to-be graduate of Canyon Crest Academy, she intends to continue her education here in sunny San Diego. Ashley is a former AoPS student and credits it with helping her pass her Calculus classes. When she has time, she likes to sing, doodle, play video games, and pester her cat.

Monica Lockett

Monica Lockett Front Desk Associate

Monica was born and raised in small neighborhood in Oakland, CA. Bearing witness to her underserved community, she grew a passion for helping others early on. San Diego became her second home as she pursued her undergraduate degree at UC San Diego. She enjoys spending time by the water, gastronomy, and keeping up with her family and friends.

Kylee Cammon

Kylee Cammon Language Arts Teaching Assistant

Kylee is a student at the University of California, San Diego, majoring in art history/theory and criticism. She is considering work in both the fields of teaching and conservation/restoration upon receiving her B.A. Kylee was drawn to AoPS because she loves working with students and felt that this could be great preparation for a future teaching career. When working with students, she feels most fulfilled when she can help spark their curiosity and willingness to learn.

Amrutha Challa

Amrutha Challa Math Teaching Assistant

Amrutha is a senior at Torrey Pines High School and an aspiring engineer. Deeply interested in math, she has taken a wide range of courses and was a student at AoPS Academy Carmel Valley when it first opened. Outside of pursuing her own passion for STEM, she loves teaching; she is an instructor at Kumon and has been peer-tutoring math for five years. In her free time, she enjoys public speaking, reading, playing and listening to music, practicing Tang Soo Do, and spending time with her family.

Anna Dai-Liu

Anna Dai-Liu Math Teaching Assistant

Anna is currently a second-year neuroscience student at UCLA, but graduated from Westview High School after growing up in San Diego for 18 years. Having previously been a tutor for high school peers and a summer TA at AoPS, she has taught students of all ages and enjoys helping people find fun in learning. Outside of the classroom, you can find her either in the Daily Bruin newsroom, the lab (where she studies early neural development), or the ballet studio.

Elizabeth Kim

Elizabeth Kim Math Teaching Assistant

Elizabeth is a passionate mathematics student who has been fortunate enough to take a wide variety of math classes. She has worked with students of all ages and backgrounds through tutoring and coaching, and thoroughly enjoys the process of it. She moved from Boston to San Diego in 2018 and has learned to love everything about the bright city, including all the eager and friendly students, despite being an advocate for snow. Outside of the academic world, Elizabeth loves to swim, play the flute, read, and travel.

Natalie Marrewa

Natalie Marrewa Math Teaching Assistant

Natalie is a student at UC San Diego where she studies public policy, environmental science, and urban planning. As a former AoPS student, Natalie appreciates the interdisciplinary and creative educational approach AoPS uses. She enjoys working with children and helping them foster a love for learning at a young age. Natalie’s perfect day includes frequenting her favorite coffee shop, going for a hike, perusing local antique stores, and ending the night with a good book.

Linh Nguyen

Linh Nguyen Math Teaching Assistant

A high school senior, Linh attends Cranbrook Schools in Michigan and lives with her family here in San Diego. Through aiding her sister with her AoPS assignments, Linh discovered the joy in helping students understand new concepts. In her free time, she enjoys playing rhythm games, eating delicious food, and pestering her two parakeets.

Matthew Steel

Matthew Steel Math Teaching Assistant

Matthew is a student at San Diego State University, where he studies mechanical engineering, and is a member of the Mechatronics team. Previously, he went to school at Mount Everest Academy, where he was the ASB president, and helped run an engineering club. He is also a former member of the FIRST robotics team at Clairemont High School. Outside of academics, Matthew is interested in origami and archery, and is an avid reader. Other hobbies include playing board games, building Lego sets, and tinkering with Arduino electronics. Having always been interested in math, Matthew is excited to work with the bright students at AoPS.

Emma Chapman

Emma Chapman Summer Teaching Assistant

Emma is currently a senior attending Santa Fe Christian. She was drawn to AoPS because of her passion for teaching and her love of working with kids. She enjoys learning the many unique angles that each student decides to confront a problem with. Her teaching style is centered around guiding and encouraging students to find the “why” behind what they are doing.


Instructors

Interested in joining our team? Click here to learn more!

Gabriela Alvarez-Malo

Gabriela Alvarez-Malo Senior Instructor

Gabriela is a passionate teaching artist who has previously starred in kids educational theatre and aspires to make the world a better place by educating and helping children grow into becoming the best version of themselves. She has a bachelor's degree from San Diego State University in Interdisciplinary Studies of Film, Women Studies, and Sociology. She is a screenwriter, educator, mentor, and activist. Gabriela's career with children started in middle school as a babysitter, then tutor, nanny, and finally she became a teaching artist. While she loves her other interests, nothing makes her happier than being in the classroom educating and inspiring children. Outside of her classroom, she spends her time biking, attempting to write her novel, cleaning the beach, reading rigorously, and bringing people together through her Diversity and Inclusion club.

Jessica Allen

Jessica Allen

Jessica has been an instructor at the Art of Problem Solving Academy since 2019, guiding students through the complexities of math and always emphasizing the 'why' behind each solution. With a BS in Applied Mathematics and a Masters in Data Science from the University of California, San Diego, her heart truly lies in the world of numbers. Beyond AoPS, Jessica applies her knowledge of data at an AI robotics company. Away from math and algorithms, she enjoys the thrill of snowboarding and has a soft spot for the gentle manatees.

Ethan Alvarée

Ethan Alvarée

Ethan is an accomplished educator with more than ten years of teaching experience in mathematics, statistics, and computer science. They hold a B.S. from Michigan State University and an M.S. from UC San Diego. In addition to their classes at AoPS Academy Carmel Valley, Ethan also teaches mathematics and computer science at High Bluff Academy. Ethan has a passion for linear algebra and group theory, which are among their favorite subjects to teach. Beyond teaching, Ethan is an active writer and researcher in the field of mathematics. They are a writer at the College Board, developing curriculum for the new AP Precalculus course and crafting lessons for the SpringBoard textbooks. Ethan’s research has been featured in the Journal of Statistics and Management Systems, and they are currently authoring additional textbooks in mathematical subjects. Outside their professional endeavors, Ethan enjoys spending quality time with their partner, friends, and their two golden retrievers, Mister Fibonacci and Miss Ada.

Logan Arnold

Logan Arnold

Logan has a deep passion for engaging learners in critical thinking and problem solving opportunities. Her career in education began in 2017 after she earned her bachelor's degree in elementary education from West Virginia University. After school, she moved to Charlotte, North Carolina and taught 2nd grade for five years. She is currently working towards earning her master's degree in Academically and Intellectually Gifted Education from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Logan loves creating a positive, collaborative learning environment where students are encouraged to use their growth mindset to overcome challenges. Being new to San Diego, she is excited about the opportunity to work with students at AoPS. In her free time, Logan enjoys playing tennis, hiking, cooking, and reading a good book on the beach (under an umbrella!).

Robert Arreola

Robert Arreola

Robert is a San Diego native and graduated from Sweetwater High School. He left San Diego to pursue an applied math degree from Harvard College and decided to return to San Diego and become a high school math teacher. He received his teaching credential from San Diego State and taught for 22 years. Having taught everything from basic math to AP Calculus AB and AP Statistics, it was time to change things up. His favorite part about teaching was experiencing the moment when students' eyes lit up from understanding a concept. Aside from teaching math, he enjoys gardening, watching his cacti and succulents grow, and spending time with his dog Lilu.

Bryn Bishop

Bryn Bishop

Bryn joined AoPS in 2021. She has a B.S. in physics, a master’s in STEM education, and taught physics courses in public high schools for a decade. Bryn is passionate about developing innovative and equitable curricula that nurture lifelong curiosity in all learners. She is also actively involved with the American Association of Physics Teachers and her local chapter in Southern California. In her free time, Bryn enjoys adventuring with her family throughout San Diego and the world via foot, bike, car, boat, or plane. She also has numerous hobbies such as photography, astronomy, reading, and martial arts.

Eleanor Blais

Eleanor Blais

Eleanor is an honors graduate of Dartmouth College, having earned degrees in mathematics and economics. For over twenty years, she taught high school mathematics at Santana High School in Santee, California. Eleanor taught all levels of high school math, including Algebra, Geometry, Pre-Calculus, Statistics and AP Calculus (AB and BC). Over the past two years, she has added online math tutoring to her teaching repertoire, to help students with the challenges of learning math during the pandemic. Before her teaching career, Eleanor worked as an attorney in Chicago and San Diego. In her spare time, she loves to read -- in both English and French -- travel, and cater to her two (somewhat demanding) cats.

Joshua Brower

Joshua Brower

Josh has many years of experience teaching science and math from middle school through college. He loves to hear how students “see” their solutions to math problems and to observe students working collaboratively. Josh came to teaching math and science from the world of ecology, which he studied at Florida State University and San Diego State University. Having grown up in a beach town in Florida and moved to San Diego, Josh has a deep love and appreciation for the ocean. In his down time, Josh enjoys surfing, rock climbing, playing guitar and banjo, camping, hiking, fly fishing, and making good food for his family.

Danielle Callahan

Danielle Callahan

Danielle’s love for teaching started when she was instructing little ones at basketball camps in her hometown of Philadelphia, PA. This experience led to her studying education at the undergraduate level and eventually earning her Master's of Education, both at Boston University. She has 10 years of teaching experience, teaching a range of subjects at both the elementary and high school levels. She loves building a welcoming and fun classroom community that values curiosity and developing a growth mindset. When she isn’t teaching you can find her playing beach volleyball, going on a run with her weekly run club, or trying out a new recipe in the kitchen.

Kalin Cameron

Kalin Cameron

Kalin is thrilled to be developing curriculum with Art of Problem Solving. She previously taught and developed curriculum at a project-based charter school in San Diego. She has extensive experience teaching language arts and was the English teacher at a Spanish language elementary school in Mountain View, California. Prior to classroom teaching, Kalin used her passion for the creative arts as a children’s theatre director. Kalin earned her master's degree in education from Stanford University and BA in theatre from The University of California, San Diego.

Arianna Caramat

Arianna Caramat

Arianna is a San Diego native and elementary school teacher, who pursued her bachelor's degree in broadcasting/TV and film production at San Francisco State University. She worked in Los Angeles as a magazine writer and video editor; however, she later discovered her calling in education. She spent three years teaching English to middle school students in South Korea. Her amazing experience abroad solidified her love for teaching. In 2019, she returned to California to complete CSU San Marcos' teaching credential program. She is approaching 5+ years of teaching and is currently completing her master’s degree in SDSU’s Teaching: Language Arts program. Outside of the classroom, you can find Arianna at the beach, hiking the local trails, or taking a stroll around the park with her dog, Ocean.

Shannon Chandy

Shannon Chandy

Shannon has taught English literature, creative writing, reading, and grammar to a variety of learners ranging from elementary to college students. Since graduating with a master’s degree, she has taught in Japan, Singapore, and the US for over ten years. She has a lifelong love of literature and writing, especially children’s literature, and loves discussing a good book with her students. For Shannon, there is nothing more exciting than watching her class come alive as they grasp new concepts and have fun while learning. When not working at AoPS, she teaches her twin children math and language arts and helps coach their robotics team. The child of a Navy and Marine Corps pilot, Shannon has lived in eleven other states and three other countries but hopes to make San Diego her permanent home.

Michelle Coghlan

Michelle Coghlan

Michelle is a mathematician who grew up in San Diego. She earned her bachelor’s in mathematical theory from Cal Poly Pomona and her master’s in curriculum and instruction from the University of San Diego. She has experience as a high school math teacher as well as a private tutor and loves to share her enthusiasm for math any way she can. AoPS is one of the ways she looks forward to sharing the beauty of mathematics with her students and colleagues. Her teaching style can be described as student-focused and interactive. She enjoys bringing the material to life and making it applicable to demonstrate the connections.

Dr. Jim Conant

Dr. Jim Conant

Dr. Conant previously held the role of Campus Director at AoPS Academy Carmel Valley before moving into a role as an instructor. He received his BA in mathematics from Rutgers University in 1995, winning the John Bogart prize as the top graduating math major. He earned his PhD, also in mathematics, from the University of California, San Diego in 2000, and became a postdoctoral associate at Cornell for the next 3 years. He has spent most of his career as a tenured professor at the University of Tennessee, where he has won awards for outstanding research. His work has been published in many internationally recognized high profile journals, including Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. He has served multiple times on the Problem Writing Committee for the University of Tennessee High School Math Contest and has graded for the USA Mathematical Olympiad. His true passion is teaching and he enjoys the challenge of developing problem-solving skills in the next generations of young minds.

Irene Cullen

Irene Cullen

Irene holds a bachelor's degree in psychology and a master's degree in instructional leadership, both from National University. Her teaching credentials are in K-12 education, English, social studies, and administrative services. She has worked in Valley Center-Pauma Unified School District for 25 years, having held many different roles during her time there. Irene spent her first nine years teaching all subjects in a 4th-grade classroom. She also has taught English at the middle and high school levels, served as a coordinator for the beginning teacher support program and a mentor for beginning teachers, and has been a teacher trainer. She has also developed materials for the San Diego County Office of Education. Irene loves creating a safe, positive environment where all students can grow to their highest potential. Her passions outside the classroom include reading, traveling, and early walks with her friends.

Jori Dabill

Jori Dabill

Jori has been an enthusiastic math teacher since 2006. Originally from Connecticut, she earned her teaching credential after graduating from Messiah College with a Bachelors of Science in elementary education. Since then, she has taught 4th through 8th grade math in Hawaii, Las Vegas, and San Diego! Jori loves pushing her students to their fullest potential through engaging lessons and challenging problems. When she isn’t teaching, Jori enjoys surfing, hiking, snowboarding, and camping.

Dr. Bernardo Feijoo Perez

Dr. Bernardo Feijoo Perez

Bernardo was born in Caracas. He received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Universidad Simón Bolívar (USB). During those years he first experienced the joy of helping others learn math. He knew that was what he wanted to do. He got master's and doctorate degrees in computer science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, specializing in optimization. He returned home and taught mathematics and scientific computing at USB for more than 25 years. He held the positions of Program Director of Mathematics and Dean of Undergraduate Studies at USB. He then moved to the U.S., where he has been tutoring math and scientific computing since 2013. Teaching at AoPS Academy is a great opportunity for Bernardo to do what he loves and keep learning and improving. Bernardo enjoys spending time with his wife Mily and their grandchildren, watching baseball, soccer, movies and TV series, and pretending to play guitar and bass.

Dr. Casey Fu

Dr. Casey Fu

Casey’s math journey started in middle school with math competitions, and he was a 4-time USAMO participant. He received his bachelor’s degree in mathematics and physics at MIT in 2015. During his time in college, he designed problems for the Harvard-MIT Math Tournament and graded for USAMTS. He further earned his PhD in mathematics at UCLA in 2021, specializing in algebraic number theory. At that time, he found his passion for teaching as a TA for college math classes. He discovered that his most rewarding experiences throughout his educational career involved working directly with the students and witnessing their improvement. He has taught math to a variety of students, ages ranging from 10 to 41. During his spare time, he likes playing chess, table tennis, and basketball. He also enjoys listening to classical music and hanging out with his cat, Lucky.

Garrett Gallear

Garrett Gallear

Garrett Gallear is a math teacher at AoPS. He has a masters degree in physics, and loves teaching all kinds of analytical problem solving! Garrett has taught in several different settings that include San Diego State University, Grossmont Community College, and subbing for several elementary, middle, and high schools in San Diego. When he is not teaching, Garrett likes to hang out with friends and play sports or board games, and sometimes just have a relaxing time at the beach or a park.

Tim Handley

Tim Handley

Tim is a scientist turned designer and educator. He worked for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory as a member of technical staff, and for the National Park Service as a bio tech and quantitative ecologist. Frustrated by the growing gap between science and society, and being both a trained scientist and a lifelong gamer, he decided to bring these skills together to help build a better future. In his role as designer and educator, Tim has built and taught a variety of innovative middle school science classes at One Spark Academy, where he also pioneered a tradition of Pi Day whipped-cream pie fights. In more serious work, he has taught several classes in the Game Design track at the Art Center College of Design, has published two nature-oriented science games, and has more games in the works. Now, as a Curriculum Developer for AoPS, he puts those same skills to use in building life sciences courses for AoPS Academy.

Anu Hazzan

Anu Hazzan

Anu has always had a passion for mathematics and learning from a young age. She graduated with her bachelor's degree in Special Education Integrated Studies from Liberty University in 2019. Anu taught high school mathematics for two years at a boarding school before transitioning into a position as an elementary special education teacher. She is currently pursuing her master's degree in curriculum and instruction with a focus in mathematics education at the University of San Diego. When she is not teaching or studying, Anu enjoys reading, cycling, and taking walks with her dog.

Lindsey Helms

Lindsey Helms

Lindsey is originally from Arkansas, but she has been living in California since 2017. She has bachelor's degrees in Early Childhood Education and Middle Level Math and Science Education from Harding University, and a master's degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages from Middlebury Institute of International Studies. She began her teaching career at an international school in Mexico, where she also learned Spanish. Over the past eight years, she has taught Math, English Language Arts, and English Language Development. When she's not teaching, she loves spending time with her family, reading a good book, and enjoying the beautiful San Diego beaches.

Sheri Ignacio

Sheri Ignacio

Sheri received a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from the University of Nevada, Reno. After graduating, she started her teaching journey volunteering as a math/science teacher for the Peace Corps in Namibia. This definitely sparked her interest and love of teaching in non traditional ways. After working in the biotech industry for several years, she has found herself back teaching in San Diego. The advocacy that AoPS has for active learning really drew her to the Academy because she also believes that is the best way to learn. Sheri's teaching style is student-centered and truly believes that students benefit from learning by doing. She loves working with students because they are honestly the best teachers. They give her the opportunity to experience a topic for the first time and seeing how their minds work continues to inspire her teaching.

Jason Kenny

Jason Kenny

Jason graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in math. Here, he found a love of math instruction through community outreach, tutoring, and as a TA. He is excited to be teaching for AoPS, and loves the way that working with students changes the way he thinks about math. In his spare time, he enjoys playing board games, reading science fiction, baking bread, and folding origami. Other interests include community planning, modern architecture of Southern California, and going to the beach.

California Kromelow

California Kromelow

California earned her bachelor's degree in writing and literature from the College of Creative Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. While studying, she practiced teaching at home and abroad. She was a teacher’s assistant for undergraduate fiction and non-fiction creative writing workshops, volunteered as a poetry teacher at a local middle school, and as an English teacher in Italy at a public middle school and private international preschool. Always interested in research and honing her craft, she is a proud recipient of her college’s summer undergraduate research fellowship and a two-time presenter at her college’s Research and Creative Activities Conference. In her free time, California employs her research and creative skills by baking new treats and working towards publishing her novels.

Ellen Kulinsky

Ellen Kulinsky

Ellen is a lifelong AoPS-er. Ellen grew up in a mathematical family, where she was introduced to AoPS textbooks at a young age and spent her school years competing in and training her fellow students for contests like MATHCOUNTS and the AMCs. Driven by her passion for nurturing communities of learning enthusiasts, Ellen led the Cal “Women in Mathematics” organization while earning her BS in applied math from UC Berkeley and taught problem solvers of all ages at the LA, Berkeley, and Stanford math circles for nearly a decade. Ellen joined the full-time AoPS team in 2019 and is currently the Director of Engagement and Growth for Textbooks and Online Services. Prior to this role, Ellen helped lead several physical AoPS Academy locations throughout California, including as Campus Director of the Pleasanton campus. After a year of focusing on business strategy, Ellen is eager to be back with students in-person, spreading the joy of learning to more excited, bright future leaders.

Stephanie Lage

Stephanie Lage

Stephanie has been working with AoPS students since 2017 and was previously an Associate Director at AoPS Academy Bellevue. Stephanie has always had a deep interest in understanding how the world works. This led to the decision to major in mathematics and physics at Washington State University and led to tutoring others in math and science classes while in school. She quickly realized how much fun it is to help people explore new and difficult concepts by challenging them to think through their own ideas. She then spent two years as a graduate student in mathematics at the University of Colorado, where being a TA who taught Calculus was the most rewarding part. Next steps included teaching students of all ages and ability levels, including teaching high school math and science for three years. Stephanie loves working with students who are excited about math, helping them rise to new challenges and discover new problem-solving strategies, but also loves working with those who aren't as excited about math, helping them to see how fun and rewarding it can be. When not talking about math, Stephanie enjoys traveling, hiking, and making crochet hats.

Isaac Li

Isaac Li

Isaac Li joined AoPS as a math curriculum developer upon completing a bachelor's degree in mathematics from UCLA. He was a frequent instructor for AlphaStar Academy, and a problem writer and test organizer for various contests including mathleague.org and the Berkeley Math Tournament. He calls the Bay Area home (Daly City / San Jose). Isaac enjoys writing interesting math problems, teaching, and creating levels for rhythm games.

Michelle Liddell

Michelle Liddell

Michelle attended SDSU, majoring in English with an emphasis on teaching, and went on to earn her master's degree in teaching. She taught 9th-12th language arts for 20 years in San Diego, including 10 years of Advanced Placement English Language. Her students have gone on to study at Cornell, Georgetown, the U.S. Naval Academy, NYU, Stanford, UCLA, and Yale. She is a voracious reader of detective novels; she and her husband enjoy spending time with their dogs, Rupert and Simon. They also enjoy traveling, particularly in Europe and New York. As an amateur playwright, she enjoys seeing as much theater as she can, and is a volunteer for Lamplighters Community Theater and for the IRC, where she teaches English to refugees. She believes kindness is contagious and that it's worth catching!

Jennifer Marrewa

Jennifer Marrewa

Jennifer is a creative educator who truly enjoys spending time with children of all ages. She was born and raised in San Diego, California and has more than 20 years of experience in education. Jennifer started her career as a kindergarten teacher and has also taught 4th and 5th grade. She earned her liberal arts degree, minor in English, specialization in Children’s Literature, Multiple Subject CLAD credential and Single Subject English teaching credential, through San Diego State University. Jennifer also earned her Gifted and Talented Education Certification through UCSD. Jennifer moved out of the classroom and into the field of instructional design and training once she started having children of her own. She worked in Ed Tech for 15 years and most recently has been working in corporate learning and development for the past 4 years. Jennifer’s children are all previous AoPS Academy students, two of her children are now in college, and one is still in middle school. All of Jennifer’s children tested into their school’s GATE programs and she volunteered at all of their elementary schools. Now that her children are older Jennifer has really missed getting to work with and being around elementary aged students. When she attended a recent AoPS open mic night put on by the children of the AoPS Writing Club, she felt called to go back to teaching and applied to work at AoPS. Jennifer has used the Beast Academy curriculum at home with her son and as a parent when her son took an in-person Beast class for a year. She believes math is best taught and learned in real world contexts through in-depth creative problem solving. Jennifer is excited about getting to teach AoPS Academy's new Level 1 Beast Academy curriculum with AoPS's youngest students! Jennifer is also a children’s book author and is working on getting her first middle grade fantasy novel published. She is also excited about getting to teach AoPS Middle School Foundations Language Arts class!

Brian Meermans

Brian Meermans

Brian has been working in computer science education his whole career. After earning a BS in Mathematics, Brian began tutoring others, where he discovered his love for teaching. He spent many years crafting CS lessons and projects for high school students, always trying to see how far he could push their skills. Brian continued his education by earning an MS in Computer Science from Georgia Tech. His commitment to education and personal relationships has helped inspire countless students to pursue careers in technology. When not teaching or building curriculum, Brian is an avid board game enthusiast and escape room fan. He continues to seek new ways to challenge his mind and have fun.

Cecilia Mullon

Cecilia Mullon

Cecilia drove from Chicago, IL in July 2020 to be with her son, his wife and her first grandchild. She now has two grandchildren with whom she enjoys and shares her passions for math, children’s literature, gardening and art. Soon after her arrival to CA, she began enjoying the activities at AoPS.com. She had no idea she would eventually work with AoPS Academy. Cecilia received her BA in elementary education in ’89 and her MS in teaching mathematics in ’91 from the University of Illinois Circle Campus. She believes instilling a growth mindset allows students to improve and achieve and approaching math and life as a sense-making journey, and building and sharing strategies along this journey, creates problem solvers. Cecilia has worked with students from 3 to 50 years of age, adapting to each level with the assistance of much observation, guidance, mentoring, discussion, and studying with other educators. We teach our students, “It takes a village”, using a village to grow ourselves is just as viable.

Shawn Murali

Shawn Murali

Shawn Murali is an educator from the Bay Area focusing on computer science, math, and physics with bachelor's degree in mathematics from UC San Diego. He began his teaching journey in 2014, cementing a lifelong passion for facilitating the development of critical thinking skills in his students and finding creative ways to present hard problems. He is most excited by the rapid advancement in the field of AI-driven computer graphics and simulation at this time. He is also currently preoccupied with attempting to train a super mutt puppy in San Diego.

Vivian Nguyen

Vivian Nguyen

Vivian was born and raised in the Bay Area and made the move down to San Diego to start her teaching career. She earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in education at UCLA. She then received her teaching credential and master's degree in teaching at SDSU and has stayed in San Diego ever since, after falling in love with the area. She is currently teaching math to high school students at High Tech High and engaging them in project-based approach to math. Some things that Vivian enjoys doing when she is not teaching are going to the beach, gaming with friends, and trying new foods (always open to recommendations)!

Whitney Niceswanger

Whitney Niceswanger

Whitney joined AoPS in 2022 after spending the better part of a decade teaching math at the community college level. She has a bachelor's degree in chemistry from USD and a master's degree in math from SDSU. Her experience teaching students from underprivileged backgrounds cultivated a desire to make the beauty of mathematics accessible to everyone. She enjoys group problem solving and discussing unique solutions and conceptualizations. When not working, Whitney enjoys taking her dogs to the beach and puttering around in her vegetable garden.

Tynan Ochse

Tynan Ochse

Tynan earned his bachelor's degree in mathematics at Caltech before going on to obtain his doctorate degree in mathematics at UT Austin. Concurrent with his studies, he has developed and taught engaging mathematical curricula to a wide range of audiences. This includes leading an afterschool recreational mathematics class at a middle school in Studio City, and teaching a summer course on modeling nim-style games with linear algebraic data as part of UT Austin's Freshman Research Initiative. Tynan is willing and able to be a spokesperson for all things algebraic geometry and number theory, and he is a firm proponent of making the process of doing research in mathematics more approachable and accessible to pre-collegiate students. In his free time, Tynan enjoys fishing, experimenting with pickling and canning foods, playing basketball, and competing in weightlifting.

Mariebelle Oliva

Mariebelle Oliva

Mariebelle has worked with all levels of elementary students in her 20+ year career in education. She holds a bachelor’s degree in liberal studies and a master’s degree in education from Loyola Marymount University. She enjoys guiding students as they hone their intellects and develop into thoughtful, creative thinkers. A San Diego native, Mariebelle loves spending time with her family, crafting or sewing, and relaxing.

Wei Paxson

Wei Paxson

Wei started teaching at AoPS in 2019. Her love for mathematics began in her youth when she achieved success in math competitions. She went on to work in computer hardware and software development, specializing in telephony, which led to an opportunity to work in Paris, France before becoming a test manager for a team of South African software developers upon her return to the United States. After more than a decade in this field, Wei shifted her focus to helping her two sons excel academically, coaching math teams at both the elementary and middle school levels, as well as coaching for FIRST Lego League and FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC). Wei’s FTC robotics team qualified for the World Championship competition in 2018. Recently, Wei followed her passion for teaching math and completed a second master's degree in applied mathematics at San Diego State University, complementing her bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from Shanghai Jiao Tong University and master's degree in electrical engineering from Michigan Technological University. In her leisure time, Wei enjoys music, playing bridge, and savoring good food.

Kerson Perez

Kerson Perez

Kerson earned a master’s degree in applied mathematics from San Diego State University. He is currently working on a second master's degree in data science. He received his bachelor's degree in mathematics from the University of Illinois. Prior to that, he was awarded a certificate in advanced electronics weapon systems from the Naval School in Pensacola Florida during his military career. He currently teaches math, statistics, and physics at Southwestern College, SDSU, and PIMA medical institute in San Diego. He has taught students of all ages and backgrounds. In his free time, he enjoys teaching his 8-year-old daughter math and robotics. He also loves traveling and trying new food.

Jacob Postema

Jacob Postema

Jacob has taught high school and college students for over 8 years. He loved math growing up, but started to appreciate its depth and beauty more fully while majoring in it at Harvard University. Afterwards, he attended graduate school for math at UC San Diego, where he did research in number theory. As a teaching assistant and instructor for a variety of college courses, Jacob enjoyed connecting with many different students. His favorite part of teaching is seeing students gain confidence in areas they initially struggle with. Aside from number theory, he especially likes algebra and probability. He is also a fan of crossword puzzles, trivia, and exploring the canyon close to where he lives.

Evan Pruitt

Evan Pruitt

Evan has been teaching math, science, robotics, and engineering at independent schools in San Diego for the last 10 years. He originally earned a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering at the University of Colorado at Boulder and is now back in school pursuing a master's degree in aerospace engineering because of his desire to transition to being a rocket scientist. While teaching, he often shares slow motion videos of interesting physics phenomena that he has taken and gives students additional riddles and logic puzzles to stretch students understanding in all direction. Outside of the classroom, Evan enjoys oil painting and participating in a philosophy discussion group.

Melissa Rabaya Lim

Melissa Rabaya Lim

This is Melissa’s 3rd summer teaching at AoPS. A professional educator for 15 years, Melissa has taught English in middle and high schools. She began work in education in college as a tutor for at-risk youth. After graduating from California State University, Long Beach in 2008 with a BA in English education, she pursued a single subject credential in English from CSULB by student teaching at Downey High School in Downey, CA. She began her teaching career at her alma mater, Bishop Amat, where she taught English 9, English 10 Honors, English 12 Honors, and freshman composition for four years. Melissa also mentored elementary students in creative writing and supplementary language arts. In 2014, she moved to San Diego and continued her career at El Camino High School in Oceanside, CA. In 2016, Melissa earned a master's degree in education with an emphasis in curriculum and instruction from Concordia University, Irvine. Outside of teaching, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, reading, and getting in a good workout.

Linda Reardon

Linda Reardon

Linda is a dedicated educator with over ten years of experience in multiple subject areas. She holds two degrees in education, a bachelor's degree in elementary education from Northern Arizona University and a master's degree in Curriculum and Instruction Technology from Grand Canyon University. She is a history and literature fanatic, and is currently working on her first novel. Linda has also worked as a curriculum writer, with a focus on math and gifted education. She holds certifications in the areas of gifted education, social sciences, and English as a Second Language. Linda is proud of her ability to get to know and understand her students as unique individuals with diverse needs. She enjoys helping students build their confidence and ability in math and language arts. She strives to help students to be motivated, lifelong learners, who pursue their strengths and passions. In her spare time, Linda enjoys hiking, kayaking, reading, writing and walking her dog on the beach!

Ryan Thomas Riddle

Ryan Thomas Riddle

Ryan is an award-winning journalist and screenwriter. He is assuredly no relation to Lord Voldemort. His work has appeared in the San Francisco Bay Guardian, the Palo Alto Daily Post, Fast Co Design, Comics Bulletin, and 99U. He’s also recently published a short prose story. Nowadays, he's a screenwriter, working on various projects for TV/Film and comics. He’s a 2023 Austin Film Festival Finalist for his STAR TREK STRANGE NEW WORLDS script, “Have Phaser — Will Travel.” His Superman script is also on The Stunt List. When Ryan is not teaching at AoPS Academy, he spends time with his dog Reggie and cosplaying as Captain Kirk.

Brenda Sako

Brenda Sako

Brenda is a seasoned teacher with twenty years of teaching experience under her belt. She holds a California State Secondary Credential in English and a theatre arts degree from the University of California, San Diego. In the last twenty years, she has taught multiple grade levels and gained extensive experience teaching critical thinking skills, language acquisition, expository writing, persuasive writing, and creative writing, which is her favorite to teach! She absolutely loves teaching and nothing brings her more joy than building rapport with her students and helping them build their confidence and find their voice. She is a proud San Diego native and loves her city. When she isn't teaching, she is painting abstract art, writing short stories, or hiking all the beautiful trails that San Diego offers. She loves being in nature and one of her biggest joys is spending time in her backyard, where she tends to her hummingbird garden.

Jack Sanchez

Jack Sanchez

Jack joined AoPS in 2020 as the Academy Language Arts Curriculum Lead. Despite being drawn to math in high school, he completed a BA in philosophy from Arizona State University and an MA in religion from Yale University. Jack taught a variety of philosophy courses at the college level before entering a PhD program in philosophy at Purdue University. During his doctoral program, Jack fell in love with crafting lesson plans that helped students become more creative and analytical thinkers, so he moved to San Diego to teach humanities classes at a private school. Jack has since been working at AoPS, first as a language arts instructor, and most recently as the Product Director for the Language Arts program at AoPS Academy. In his free time, Jack enjoys running, reading, and spending time with his family.

Colin Shanahan

Colin Shanahan

Colin was born and raised in San Diego. He received his bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the University of California, Irvine. While attending UCI, Colin was a part of the Anteaters Math Club, where he served as external affairs coordinator. This gave him the opportunity to reach out to guest speakers in the fields of pure mathematics, applied mathematics, and related industry. Since graduation, Colin has been a tutor, a teacher's assistant at UCSD, and an English teacher in South Korea. Colin is a passionate beach goer but also likes to spend his time growing culinary mushrooms.

Talena Smith

Talena Smith

Talena has been with AoPS since 2021, teaching a variety of math courses. She is originally from Houston, TX and followed in her love of numbers and her parents’ career path by majoring in finance at the University of Texas at Austin (Hook ‘em, Horns!), eventually earning her Master of Business Administration before deciding that she liked teaching about mathematics more to students than to adults. She became a teacher in 2006 and earned her master’s degree in education from UT Arlington in 2014. Talena has taught for several years internationally as well as here in California and is extremely excited to bring her love of mathematics to more students! She is currently a middle school math teacher and K-8 math coordinator at the San Diego French American School. When she’s not in the classroom, you’ll find her either being sat on by one of her three cats or out on one of the many hiking trails in East County.

Andrea Steel

Andrea Steel

Andrea was inspired to teach math by the incredible math teachers that she had as a student growing up in Germany. She moved to San Diego to pursue a master’s degree in math at SDSU and has been teaching since 1997—including at UC High School, Mesa College, Grossmont College, and Coleman University. Besides being a realtor, Andrea also works with her husband’s seaplane tour business. In her free time, she enjoys volunteering and spending time with her family.

Shawna Strickland

Shawna Strickland

Shawna is a native San Diegan with a passion for education and creativity. Shawna has a BA in liberal studies from SDSU and an MA in teaching. She has experience teaching 7th and 8th grade ELA in the Santee School District. Recently, Shawna transitioned to a new role as a visual arts teacher, working with students from kindergarten to sixth grade. This shift has allowed her to explore her love for creativity and expression in new ways, nurturing budding artists and fostering their imagination. Shawna was drawn to AoPS for its structure, rigor, and team of passionate educators. She has always had a passion for literature, writing, grammar, and debate. She enjoys working with students of all ages, guiding them to become problem-solvers and critical thinkers. Her teaching style is characterized by its emphasis on discussion and active student participation in the learning process. Recognizing the value of dialogue and collaboration, Shawna fosters an inclusive classroom environment where every voice is heard and respected. She empowers her students to take ownership of their learning journey, cultivating a sense of curiosity and discovery. Outside of the classroom, Shawna loves to attend Padre games, heading out on spontaneous road trips, reading, art, and trying out new recipes.

Steven Swee

Steven Swee

Prior to his time at AoPS, Steven earned his bachelor's degree in chemical engineering with minors in literature and mathematics from UC San Diego. While the likelihood of solving engineering problems, reading stories, and calculating the odds of success of hard work all at the same time seems marginal at best, conditioned on the desire to learn and teach, the posterior belief that Steven holds is that with enough imagination, creativity, and practice, one can achieve great success. Having tutored all levels of high school math, chemical engineering, and statistics/data science, Steven strives to help students improve their problem-solving skills. Outside of teaching, Steven enjoys performing research, spontaneously going out to community events, and probably writing probability puns.

Jackson Ta

Jackson Ta

Jackson has always had a passion for mathematics and teaching, which motivated him to earn a BS in liberal studies with a minor in math education at California State University, Fullerton. He taught 6th–9th grade math at Madison Middle School for 5 years. Afterwards, he decided to pursue an education in the field of computer science. When Jackson isn’t teaching math, he likes to create small apps and solve complex coding challenges. Outside of math and coding, he enjoys exercising at the gym, engaging in arts and crafts, and caring for his pets, including his dog, bird, and fish.

Olivia Tai

Olivia Tai

Olivia earned her Bachelor of Arts in American Studies and journalism from the University of California, Berkeley, with a minor in public policy. A true multi-disciplinarian, she constantly explores different projects to expand her passion for writing, history, politics, and current events, including her roles as an editor of the Berkeley Asian American Research Journal and a freelance literary and photojournalist. She admires AoPS' out-of-the-box and forward-thinking curriculum that challenges and engages students while emphasizing practical application and real-life scenarios. Olivia loves teaching because it allows her to inspire students to be excited about learning, just like she is. Her teaching style is enthusiastic and impassioned, yet informative and enlightening. She encourages students to stay curious and never stop asking questions.

Tina Tai

Tina Tai

Tina Tai has been a teacher for over 20 years. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire with a multi-subject credential in grades 1-6, she went on to teach in public and private schools, designed curriculum and taught for after-school programs, and tutored students in math and language arts. She has especially enjoyed her opportunities to teach Honors Math and English Language Arts for AoPS, both virtually and in person, and has a strong belief that learning should be fun as well as challenging. When she’s not teaching, she loves to read, travel, and spend time at the beach with her three beautiful daughters, her two adorable dogs, and her handsome husband.

Janelle Terry-Lorenzo

Janelle Terry-Lorenzo

Janelle has experience teaching preschoolers through adults in a variety of settings, and she loves watching the spark of understanding as a new concept or connection clicks for a student. She has a lifelong love of math and language arts, and her experience educating her own two children at home has taught her how to approach both subjects with playfulness and curiosity. The child of a Navy parent, Janelle has called San Diego home three times so far, and has lived in six other states in between the times California has called her back. When she's not at AoPS, Janelle edits and designs language arts curricula as a volunteer with the literacy nonprofit, and enjoys hiking, running, reading, and traveling with her family.

Wenona Truong

Wenona Truong

With a classical touch in curriculum development and a knack for performance-based training, Wenona aspires to craft a safe and delightful space for students, fostering resilience through a blend of compassion, honesty, vulnerability, humor, and focus. Devoted to personal growth and educational excellence, she strives to help enhance student success through meticulous attention to detail, vibrant interpersonal skills, profound love for the arts, and a touch of joy. “This above all: to thine own self be true” -HAMLET, William Shakespeare

Matthew Underwood

Matthew Underwood

Matthew joined AoPS in 2021. After graduating from UC Santa Barbara in 2009, he became a certified teacher and spent a decade teaching internationally. He has taught world history and language arts in various educational settings, from enrichment programs to international high schools. His classroom experience has taken him from Shanghai, China, to Santiago, Chile, where he's taught and designed curricula for thousands of multicultural students from elementary school to high school. He's driven by creating interactive, dynamic, and engaging learning experiences that challenge students and spark their creativity. Outside of work, you'll likely find Matthew listening to podcasts, playing board games, playing volleyball, or exploring new places.

Ellen Wright

Ellen Wright

Ellen’s love of literature prompted her to get her Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from New York University. She worked professionally as a journalist before teaching English and received her Bachelors of Arts in Journalism from San Diego State University. In the classroom, she encourages students to read widely and find an author they enjoy. In her free time, she enjoys running and surfing. She recently re-discovered her love of video games, even though she is terrible at them!

Matthew Zobin

Matthew Zobin

Matthew Zobin (aka Teacher Matt) was born in Ohio, grew up in Wisconsin and now lives in San Diego. He loves teaching the English language because he believes that he is helping students improve their lives through improving their language skills. He has a bachelor's degree in secondary education with an emphasis on both English and Spanish. He has taught professionally since 1991, primarily through the San Diego Community College District at Miramar College. He now teaches at AoPS. He likes teaching language arts because it often involves reading/discussing/writing about topics such as science, history, philosophy, technology, geography, astronomy, art, theater and music. This may open young students' eyes to these topics and promote interest in them in addition to the study of English/Language Arts. His primary goal is helping students improve in any capacity that he can. He has a passion for education that was stirred in him as a son of a university professor. He has worked with students from ages 9-81 throughout his career and is comfortable with any age group. Outside of work, he likes listening to music from the 1980's (such as The Go Go's and The Talking Heads), exercising, eating healthy and spending time communicating with family and friends.

Our family regularly talks about AoPS. We try to think about how our life would be different without you all. What if my daughter hadn't learned to love math? What if she never experienced being pushed to her limits? Overcoming failure? She wouldn't be who she is. And she is AWESOME! A very proud mom here. We are so fortunate that we found AoPS Academy. I credit AoPS for much of her confidence.

Kelly B.,

AoPS Academy parent to 16-year-old engineering major at UW and future cancer researcher