I founded Math is Magic! almost 20 years ago when I relocated from Los Angeles to Eugene, leaving behind my career in the film industry to live in a more vibrant and healthy environment. After I survived a serious physical illness, my grandmother encouraged me to do what I love. So, I do. For many years I tutored college students at The Learning Center here in Eugene, and met my private students at the public library, coffee shops and my mother’s home; but as our roster grew so did our need for space. In 2010 my mom and I purchased our schoolhouse on Jefferson Street, which is now on the Eugene City Historic Landmark list, and started adding members to our tutoring team. Today we have an incredible team of gifted and positive mentors who teach at Math is Magic!, and I feel fortunate to be surrounded by such an incredible group of people: students, tutors and parents alike.
As a theater major at Pepperdine University, I never imagined that one day I’d be teaching and directing a private school for math, but my passion for youth enrichment and an inherited natural love of math have inspired me to dedicate myself to these pursuits. In addition to teaching at MiM!, I have also taught classes for the University of Oregon, including the UOteach Program and the Office of Equity of Inclusion SAT and ACT Preparation. Back in 2005, I was invited by the Department of Education at UO Summer Scholars Program to develop and teach a curriculum geared toward accelerated middle school students, and from this I created A.M.E. (Advanced Math Exploration), which I now teach in weekly classes and Summer Camps at MiM!.
I would describe my teaching style as a bit less formal than customary, very flexible, and customized to those who I am teaching. I regard mathematics as a language and an art – it is beautiful when fully understood – and making math accessible and fun is my goal. The fulcrum of my teaching philosophy is that we all can understand anything if its presented in a way we can grasp, and many times, the younger mind is much more ready to consider higher concepts than our traditional educational system might imagine. I feel lucky to have the opportunity to spend so much of my time engaged in lessons with such curious and motivated learners, and I believe my responsibility as a teacher is to help our students find their wings and joyfully watch them fly.
When I’m not teaching math, I spend time with my partner, my daughter, both of my moms, and our fetchingly intelligent dog – we bike, hike, swim and watch Duck football together. In addition to teaching math, I am a long-time student of African dance and drum. For more on this, check out: www.denbaya.org.
Thank you for taking time to get to know us at MiM!