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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.

Management Staff

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Paula Castner - Campus Director

Paula Castner - Campus Director

Paula Castner is the Campus Director at AoPS Academy Lexington. She brings to the role many years’ experience as a co-founder and the Chief Operating Officer of Seven Bridge Writers’ Collaborative, as well as being a founder and director of a summer theatre camp and the president and chair of several arts-related non-profit organizations. Additionally, she is a teacher, freelance writer, playwright, drama director, writing workshop facilitator, and baking coach. Her pieces have been published in a variety of venues, from parenting magazines, to newspapers, to online magazines, and have claimed first prize in writing contests. Her first play, A Fairy Tale Life? A Musical, with music co-written with Canadian folk artist, Nancy Beaudette, has been performed many times in Massachusetts. She is currently working on her second musical, Museum Follies, and her long-term project, a fictionalized account of a slave girl from Holden, MA. Most recently, she has revived her passion for singing and has been writing new songs. She is a graduate of Amherst College.

Ian Osborn - Associate Director

Ian Osborn - Associate Director

Ian is an Associate Director at AoPS Academy Lexington. He received his BS in mathematics and chemical engineering from MIT in 2014 and has been working in education since 2015. In high school, Ian competed in a variety of math competitions, scoring highly at competitions such as HMMT and PUMaC and qualifying for the USAMO four times. His team also finished in 4th place nationally in the 2010 Moody's Mega Math Challenge, a mathematical modeling competition. In his free time, Ian enjoys singing, reading sci-fi/fantasy novels, solving logic puzzles, and playing board games.

Justin Paige - Associate Director

Justin Paige - Associate Director

Justin Paige is an Associate Director at AoPS Academy Lexington. His journey in mathematics began when he taught himself Algebra I in the summer of 1996. As a Joseph E. Pogue Scholar at UNC Chapel Hill, his love for solving deep, challenging problems led him to earn a degree in Philosophy. Justin then joined Teach for America and began a career in education teaching elementary students in Miami, Florida. Returning to North Carolina, he transitioned to teach high school mathematics and earned a PRAXIS Award of Excellence along the way. When Justin is not coaching mathletes at AoPS, you can find him working on his grilling techniques, watching football or lacrosse, or browsing a Calculus book.

Instructors

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Mazen Abdallah

Mazen Abdallah

Mazen has been teaching English and social studies for nearly a decade, and he is thrilled to be a part of AoPS. He graduated from American University of Beirut with a BA in linguistics and completed several graduate level linguistics courses. After college, he taught at an international school in Beirut, where he met middle school and high school students from all over the Middle East. He has extensive experience with the International Baccalaureate Program and has helped several graduating classes earn their IB diplomas and move on to higher education. He recently relocated to Boston and is currently completing a master’s degree in education at the University of Massachusetts. Mazen believes the classroom should be a place of dialogue and spirited debate. He encourages students to discuss authors’ messages and stylistic devices while trying to make meaningful connections between the works they read and their own lives. He constantly strives to help students collaborate to find their unique and creative voices, and to learn how to express themselves effectively. In his spare time, he enjoys biking, gaming, and writing comedy sketches. He is looking forward to meeting new students and learning from their unique perspectives.

G Cadogan

G Cadogan

G is a Boston native who recently graduated from Emerson College with a BFA in theatre education. G is an interdisciplinary artist and educator with passions for social justice and teaching. What excites them about teaching is that they get to bring these passions directly into their work as an educator.The medium of theatre already encourages collaboration, listening, and empathy and G emphasizes the importance of these traits in their classroom. When working with students one on one, G comes to notice and appreciate each student’s unique characteristics, which is why they do not treat all of their students the same. G always welcomes new ideas and suggestions to anything that is being covered in the classroom to offer students the opportunity to see their ideas in action. When they are not teaching, G enjoys reading, playmaking, or just chilling out and watching Netflix with their roommates.This is the end of the biography but not the person!

Dominick Carbone

Dominick Carbone

Dominick has several years of experience teaching and tutoring high schoolers and college students in math, science, and economics. He enjoys simplifying complex topics and enabling students to experience the joy of problem solving. Dominick received both his MS in Analytics and BS in Mathematics from North Carolina State University, where he graduated summa cum laude. Currently, he is a data scientist at a large telecom in Boston. Dominick is extraordinarily grateful to all of the math teachers who helped him hone his problem solving skills, and he enjoys passing on those skills to students. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, hiking, and playing piano.

Dr. Thakshila Dissanayake

Dr. Thakshila Dissanayake

Thakshila received her doctoral degree in computational chemistry at Rutgers University, where she started her teaching career at the department of chemistry. Thakshila continued her postdoctoral studies in computational biophysics at Rutgers, conducting studies on enzyme catalysis using quantum mechanical and mathematical models. In addition, she took part in the e-learning project, involving in online teaching and implementing the General Chemistry eLearning System (GCeLS). Thakshila has a special love for chemistry and mathematics as she majored in both subjects to earn her B.Sc. degree. Also, she has been teaching and tutoring for over ten years from K-12 to college levels focusing on chemistry, mathematics, and coding. She enjoys working with her students, and she finds the most rewarding part of teaching is to witness the students’ “Aha!” moments. When she is not teaching, she loves baking, reading, and spending time with her family.

Leah Doherty

Leah Doherty

Leah is committed to improving students' access to a high quality education as a new Language Arts teacher for AoPS. Equity in education is an issue that is close to her heart, especially as it relates to literacy. She is excited to work with the other teachers and staff to adapt new/existing technologies and pedagogical practices to improve virtual learning for everyone this year. Leah graduated from Harvard University with a degree in social studies and has been involved in educational programming ranging from Playworks New England (as a Playworks Coach in JP) to Harvard's Summer Enrichment Programs (as a Senior Counselor and Director). She is currently working at Bridge Boston Charter School as an assistant teacher for the 3rd Grade. In her free time she enjoys writing poetry, playing and coaching soccer, curating Spotify playlists, and learning K-pop dances. Every child deserves to be seen or heard in school, and Leah is determined to make sure students have the tools to do that; to express themselves creatively, find their own voice, and grow.

Chris Fountaine

Chris Fountaine

Chris’s love for math began when he took Algebra 1 and his curiosity led him to browse calculus books three years too soon. Feeling eager to know what foreign symbols meant, he took calculus, often tutoring it to small groups and friends. He received his MS degree in mathematics from Tufts University where he focused on the three major cornerstones of contemporary mathematics: analysis, abstract algebra, and geometry/topology. Before Tufts, he completed his undergraduate education at Saint Anselm College, graduating magna cum laude with an honors BA in mathematics and classical languages. In college, he was also formally admitted as a special student to MIT where he took advantage of challenging abstract math lectures and attended the linguistics colloquia through the department of philosophy and linguistics. Since 2014, he has been a private math and SAT tutor in the greater Boston area, often tutoring multivariable calculus and linear algebra to high school students enrolled part-time at Harvard. When he’s not tutoring, he’s hiking, exercising, cooking new recipes, watching documentaries, or buying more plants he doesn’t have room for.

Asa Frank

Asa Frank

Asa graduated from Carnegie Mellon University, where he majored in computer science and minored in discrete math and logic. He also worked as a teaching assistant, mostly for introductory programming and math classes and loved helping inquisitive underclassmen explore new subjects. The most accurate piece of feedback he received from a student said simply, "little kid." After graduating, he became a software engineer, known around the office for playing Tetris, pulling pranks, and sleeping under desks. He sometimes even wrote code. Feeling unfulfilled but remembering his passion for teaching, he left to join AoPS. He's usually found in his native habitat of rock climbing gyms, screaming for more power and playing Tetris between climbs. He can't tie a tie, but he can do a one-finger, one-arm pull-up, which isn't as useful, but at least it's cool.

Renee Gelin

Renee Gelin

Renee Gelin has been teaching and tutoring for over 21 years. She has taught math and science in both public and private schools and has tutored students ages 6 through adult. She has prepared students for tests including SAT, ACT, SSAT, GRE and LSAT, provided academic support in math, science, Spanish, and English, and has provided enrichment curriculum for private students of various ages. Renee has also been a research scientist, an attorney, and a published author. Reinventing herself throughout her life, Renee continually strives to be her highest self, to accomplish as much as she can, and to inspire others to do the same. She is the mother of three adult kids and two spoiled cats. In her spare time, she meditates, watches too much TV, and reads mysteries. Renee has learned to be grateful for unknown blessings already on their way.

Lindsay Goodwin

Lindsay Goodwin

Lindsay loves working with children and teens! She has a MEd in curriculum and instruction and a MFA in nonfiction writing. She has taught social studies to students in grades 7-12 and currently coaches gymnastics to athletes of all ages and ability levels. In addition to teaching she has a passion for writing and history. She loves being part of a writing community and looks forward to helping foster such a community in the classroom. She is fascinated by American history, and as a longtime resident of Concord, MA especially enjoys local history. She is descended from a Minuteman who fought the British in the first skirmish of the Revolutionary War in Lexington! In her free time Lindsay enjoys spending time with her two middle school-aged daughters, reading, walking in the woods of Concord with her pug Buffles, and playing guitar. Mostly she plays songs by her favorite band that you may have heard of: the Beatles. Lindsay is thrilled to apply her love of history, writing, ideas, and books to help students not just understand humanities content but also feel like they play an active role in the arts and society. Every voice is important and should be heard, and Lindsay looks forward to hearing yours.

Pritish Kar

Pritish Kar

Pritish’s love for mathematics started during his high school days when he was studying for the national talent exam in India. His graduate school work applied mathematical methods to model physical phenomena, during which period he also worked as a teaching assistant at University of California, Berkeley in the introductory materials science undergraduate class. He loves solving problems with his daughters, both of whom attend classes at AoPS and are in elementary school. He likes taking multiple approaches in problem solving and enjoys seeing the creativity in the approach taken. His teaching philosophy is to encourage students to drive towards the solution. Pritish works full-time as an engineering manager in the semiconductor industry. In his spare time, Pritish likes to play with his kids and read articles on the financial industry.

Dave Neary

Dave Neary

Dave Neary graduated from University College Galway in 19(mutter mutter) with a B.Sc. in mathematics, and a love of competition math, which started when he attended some enrichment lectures in the local university in high school. After completing a post-graduate degree in engineering, Dave worked in the computer industry for 20 years, as a software engineer and consultant. He currently works in the Open Source Program Office at Red Hat, training software teams and helping customers get the most out of their work with open source communities. Dave’s family think he's crazy for doing AoPS problems in the evening for fun! Joining AoPS as a math instructor is a dream come true for Dave as he loves nothing more than passing on his enthusiasm for math to others. In fact, he really wishes something like AOPS existed when he was in school! Dave is a father of three boys, who are in middle school, high school, and university, and besides his home country of Ireland, he has lived in France for 14 years before moving to the Boston area in 2014.

Lauren Upton

Lauren Upton

Lauren is thrilled to join the AoPS faculty having first been an AoPS parent. She received her BA in English literature and psychology from Smith College, and her JD from Boston University School of Law. After a twenty-year career as a trial attorney, she realized that her true passion is for teaching after discovering that there is nothing as fulfilling as watching a student’s “lightbulb moment.” Lauren has taught in Grades K-8 and everything from biology to AP Literature. She has extensive experience in curriculum development and differentiated learning, and loves working with students on interdisciplinary lessons. She also encourages independent inquiry – if there is an abiding interest, it is worth investigating. She loves demonstrating that there is no greater joy than the acquisition and sharing of knowledge. When not teaching, Lauren enjoys spending time with her husband and her two (almost grown-up) children. She is an avid speech and debate coach, theater-goer and book-lover, and looks forward to sharing these passions with her students.

Gail Valenti

Gail Valenti

Gail fell in love with math when she was in seventh grade. Several of her friends struggled with math so they would come over after school for Gail’s help. She found she could break down complex problems in a way that helped them digest the topic, which led her to become a math teacher. Gail graduated from Boston University with a Math and Secondary Education degree. She taught seventh and eighth grade math and then decided to pursue a career in computer programming and instruction at Liberty Mutual where she advanced to become manager of their training department. Gail then joined Wang Laboratories where she developed and delivered technical training to the Wang staff and customers. She left Wang to raise two children while still using her teaching skills to tutor in public schools. Soon after, she became proficient in the emerging PC suite of office applications and became an instructor/course developer for all Microsoft Office tools at Cambridge Health Alliance for many years. She then returned to web programming using HTML, VBScript and SQL. Gail also finds much joy in swimming, biking, dancing, gardening, helping refugees and learning foreign languages. She uses her teaching skills in these hobbies whenever anyone is interested in learning from her; to watch someone go from confusion to clarity after her help is a thrill. She is excited about working with the AoPS team and helping the students to have their lightbulb moments with math!

Ariel Wertheim

Ariel Wertheim

Since graduating Dartmouth College, Ariel has explored passions for science research and education. While he has enjoyed his work at North Dakota State University and the Volcani Center on sustainable agriculture and plant-microbe interactions, he has found his most rewarding work has been with 11-13 year old students in mainstream classroom, special education, and supplemental religious school settings. Ariel enjoys cooking, hiking, reading, and a good math puzzle. Ariel considers his greatest achievements to be "persuading" students to enjoy a subject they previously disliked. His favorite part of teaching is seeing the "lightbulb moment" when a child solves a problem they'd worked hard on. Ariel currently teaches 10th grade math at APR Public Charter School, and is working toward his Master in Effective Teaching degree through Sposato Graduate School of Education.

Dr. Huayu Xiong

Dr. Huayu Xiong

Huayu’s curiosity of how life started on earth prompted her to pursue chemistry and earn her doctoral degree. She works in the biotech industry with colleagues in vast different fields and has provided training so that colleagues in different fields can communicate and work together on shared projects. She likes to see young kids grow into confident problem solvers through asking inquisitive questions and wrestling with challenging problems. Outside of her professional activities, she serves on the boards of Youth Counseling Connection, a non-profit group that provides mental health counseling services in Lexington and FOLMDADS (Friends of Lexington Music and Arts), a non-profit organization that supports arts and music education in the Lexington School District.

Rachel Zhang

Rachel Zhang

Rachel is a graduate of Wellesley College, where she earned a BA in mathematics and minored in computer science. She grew up with an immense love for puzzles, and carried this love into math and problem solving throughout her life. Having tutored elementary through high school students in math for 5 years, Rachel is passionate about teaching math in a way that is intuitive and visually engaging for each individual student she has. Her favorite part of teaching is seeing the smiles on her students’ faces as they gain confidence in their own skills. Outside of teaching, she likes to spend her time filling her sketchbook, learning new languages, and figure skating.

Jennifer Zolot

Jennifer Zolot

Throughout her career, Jennifer has served as an ELA teacher, curriculum developer, academic mentor, and tutor for students in grades five through twelve. She taught middle-school English in Boston and Lexington and was a longtime faculty member at the Steppingstone Foundation, an organization dedicated to improving equity in education. Jennifer is also a writer and member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. She holds a BA in English from Bates College, an MAT in teaching English from Tufts University, and an MFA in writing for children and young adults from Simmons College. Jennifer’s other interests include hiking, yoga, dance, meditation, art and museums. She believes that every experience has something to teach us and enjoys guiding students on their own learning journeys. Jennifer is glad to join the AoPS community and looks forward to meeting students and families. Be sure to ask her what she’s reading – she loves to swap book recommendations!

"AoPS Academy has provided a wonderful opportunity for my children to advance and hone their knowledge and skills in mathematics.  My children have attended for a few years now, and they love it. They always look forward to attending class. I truly admire the hard work and dedication of all of the staff towards making AoPS Academy a center of excellence for math and language arts.  Both of my sons, one in high school and one in middle school, are ahead of their schoolmates in their math classes.  Not only that, they have both developed a love for this subject aided by the exposure they have received at AoPS Academy. They enjoy the interactive method of teaching, and look forward to their classes. The courses offered at AoPS Academy keep them engaged and challenged. The focus on high achieving students, along with their selective admissions standards, helps to maintain high standards. I have many business associates and friends around the United States, and have told them about AoPS Academy. They are so envious that we have such a wonderful opportunity for such rigorous instruction with the Art of Problem Solving world class curriculum. I look forward to the day when there will be an AoPS Academy in every major city in the country."
-Sumali S.
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