“Mathematics reveals its secrets only to those who approach it with pure love, for its own beauty” – Archimedes
From very early in my academic education, I have been interested in natural sciences, especially mathematics. As a student interested in solving problems, I enjoyed being a member of the school’s math contest team, which was in those days an honor to attend.
Upon recommendation from my teachers, I applied and got selected into the most prestigious high school in former Yugoslavia – ‘Mathematical Gymnasium’. Following my passion for natural sciences I found myself at a highly recognized technical school in my country – the Faculty of Electrical Engineering at the University of Belgrade (www.etf.rs) where I earned a MS degree in Applied Physics.
Along with my academic education I discovered another passion – teaching. I started tutoring with strong belief that math can be accessible to all students if presented in a suitable format that matches the student’s way of accepting logical thinking.
Since moving with my family to the US I have continued working with my own children and their school friends helping them understanding not just math facts but deeper math concepts which require serious logical thinking. It has been a rewarding experience seeing their progress and how they were able to connect with real life math problems and have fun at the same time!
This accomplishment inspired me to go further and share my passion at Archimedes School where I want to get young students excited about solving problems while developing critical reasoning and analytical skills, fostering self confidence and motivation.
I started "playing" with computers in 1980's right when the computer games became part of our homes (computers I have used in those days can be seen in the lobby of Archimedes school in Redmond). I still remember the day I saw a Casio pocket computer with one line display and BASIC programming language. My question to the owner of that "computer" was: "Can it solve a linear equation?" and his answer "Yes, if you write a program to do that". Since then I have been writing programs to solve various problems.
I have a degree in Electrical Engineering from University of Belgrade, Serbia (at that time still Yugoslavia) with a major in Computer & Software Engineering. Upon graduation I have started working for a company which built a software - a CAD application for Civil Engineering. It was a dream job to me. I have been using all the cutting edge technologies at the time such as Open GL library to render 3D models.
In 2000 luck struck me and I got a job at the most prestigious software company in the world at the time - Microsoft.
In 2007, a colleague of mine at Microsoft introduced me to Scratch. I fell in love with that tool right away and started teaching my 9 year old son Marko, how to program computer games. Solving problems was a very good father-son bonding activity however his artistic talent to create animated sprites at that time were an early sign of what he would be in future. Now, several years later, Marko is enrolled in DigiPen's Fine Art program and I made the decision to keep teaching young minds how to program.
In 2015 I resigned from Microsoft to fully commit to the Archimedes school success. Offering high quality curriculums in computer programming cannot be a part-time position and requires dedication and commitment. Leaving Microsoft for Archimedes makes a strong statement of belief in the success of our school as a state of the art mind sharpener for our young generation.
Math has played an important role in my life for as far back as I remember. When I was in 1st grade, I was fascinated by a short conversation I heard between two 3rd graders about "negative numbers". The memory stuck with me, and a short while later I saw a mistyped problem on a worksheet and relished the opportunity to show my teacher I knew the answer was negative one. Unfortunately, the teacher marked it wrong, saying you should always put the larger number on top. Although that experience did not drive me away from math, my own philosophy is to help students expand on their insights into mathematics beyond what is taught in the classroom. I first joined a math club in fourth grade, although it was really in 8th grade and high school that I went to a lot of state and national competitions. These competitions were great not only because I enjoyed math but also because they let me visit new places and develop a love of traveling.
As a graduate student at UL Lafayette, I taught several math classes, and I reaffirmed to myself that it is really the teaching that I love even more than the math. I was very pleased to find Archimedes School because of my math competition background. There are many tutoring places out there, but there are only a few that offer opportunities for student enrichment significantly beyond what is learned in classrooms. Whether a student is struggling in math, doing fine but wanting to do better, or making straight A's but wanting to delve deeper into math, Archimedes has something for that student.
Due to the overwhelming influence of programming in Redmond, in my family, and in our planet's future, I have recently decided to jump headfirst into programming myself. My first smartphone app "Hypermaze!" was published in May 2015, and although it's not very fancy, I am nevertheless pleased at how I was able to grow in just 3 months. I am working towards grander app development projects, and for the foreseeable future I will continue my work at Archimedes as well.
Growing up in a small scientific community near Moscow, Russia, I had always left my math homework for the end: it was the easiest one, since it did not involve remembering random facts about cities and countries, spelling rules, historical dates – understanding was enough to do everything quickly. Nowadays, math is singled out as a “hard subject” and diminished to a bunch of formulas to be memorized. Unfortunately, this is true for all levels of education, and I see it even in greater scientific community, where I have been working after earning a PhD degree in Physics from Moscow State University.
I encourage all my students, from preschoolers to PhD candidates in the department of Bioengineering at UW, not to steer away from math “because it is hard”, but to recognize that math is in every task or problem they face – speed of chemical reaction, composition of solution for growing cells, or model of biological process. Understanding the underlying mathematical principles, learning to recognize patterns, and using this ability to simplify the complex problems into smaller, approachable ones – it’s the way to their success in areas that seem far from their school math.
I strongly believe that teaching math in small incremental steps and applying this knowledge to different areas of study and everyday life not only builds good math foundation, but also helps to develop logical thinking abilities, essential in everything we might want to pursue. I volunteer as a math enrichment activities chair at my younger son’s elementary school, hoping to encourage interest in math from early years.
My interests are not limited to science and math. I am a regular subscriber to Seattle Symphony and often spend my evenings at my sewing machine, working on costumes for the International Ballet Theater in Bellevue, where I manage the costume department, because I believe that math makes us better thinkers, but art makes us human.
Mathematicians often praise the subject because there is always "one right answer". I am in my 4th year studying mathematics at the University of Washington and I've found this "one right answer" thing is starting to get a little repetitive. Teaching 3D printing, tutoring math, and soon to be teaching Python at the colorful, homey offices of Archimedes has brightened this drab. I love teaching these children, especially from my home community in Redmond, who are constantly surprising me and challenging me to come up with the often "many right answers" of teaching strategy. I view teaching the same way I view modeling, coding, and mathematics itself: iterate because it can always be better, any problem can be made simpler, and some models look great in theory but they just don't print! I have taught math and as a curious student I can truly appreciate the moment where the image comes into focus. Whether it be the simple intrinsic relationship between circles and right triangles or the long-awaited grasp of the implications of the conditions of a counterintuitive theorem.