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NNY Math seeks to make math fun for kids

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In a little shop in the Salmon Run Mall sits NNY Math, luring in children with a K’Nex roller coaster and circuitry whirligigs.

The business, a new math enrichment center, aims to make math and science fun for children who are either struggling with math or looking to advance their skills.

Founder Brian J. Lantier stresses the $65-per-month after-school program is not a tutoring or homework-help program, however.

“We just want to be something different,” he said. “We offer the opportunity for kids to catch up a little.”

Most of the children in the program are “at or above their level,” he said.

He said the closest program to his own was a Kumon Learning Center in Potsdam. That center has closed, but he said there are at least five centers in the Syracuse area.

Mr. Lantier opened the center about a month ago, but had the idea for it a year ago.

“What I’ve done here, I did it before with my daughters at home,” he said. “I thought, ‘Why don’t we make it a business out there?’”

Mr. Lantier grew up in LaFargeville and worked in New York City for 15 years as a research analyst and venture capitalist and at a hedge fund. When he moved back to the north country, he used his background in math and finance to gain a seat on the Thousand Islands Central School Board of Education, where he has served for the past two years. His role in education leadership gave him something new to be passionate about.

“I knew I wasn’t going to be a teacher, and I wasn’t going to be an administrator,” he said.

At the center, he jokes that he is the founder, instructor and custodial staff all in one.

For each hourlong session, students do 20 minutes of online exercises, 20 minutes of math and logic games and a 20-minute science experiment.

Online math problems are done through Khan Academy, which offers free online educational resources and allows him to monitor whether a student is growing or struggling.

Mr. Lantier said that in the short time his center has been open, parents have noticed improvement in their children’s math grades and their attitudes about the subject.

He currently works with 12 students, but if the number grows to more than 100, he said, he hopes to have advanced students enter competitions. He also has thought of creating summer math camps for children to learn computer skills, electronics or how to make iPhone applications.

First, however, he wants to strengthen the core of his business.

“We’re not a school,” he said. “We’re not a charter. We’re just extra.”

For more information, go to www.nnymath.com or call 212-5577.

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