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Richard RusczykArt 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 DawsonIn 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 PatrickDave 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.
Thomas Flood - Campus Director
Thomas is the Campus Director for AoPS Academy Bellevue, having begun his career at AoPS as the Assistant Director for the Academy in Vienna, Virginia. He is an experienced teacher and tutor with a passion for education policy. After completing his MAEd from Wake Forest University, Thomas moved to Washington, DC, where he taught middle– and high–school math as well as math, science, and ELA at the University of the District of Columbia. As an undergraduate, he studied mathematics, economics, and gender studies at Furman University, where he was awarded the J. Carlyle Ellet Economics Prize as the top economics graduate of the year. His research in economics, education policy, and pedagogy has been published in Public and Municipal Finance and the Education Resources Information Center (ERIC).
Dr. Zach Kissinger - Associate Director
Zach is an Associate Director at AoPS Academy Bellevue. Since joining the team in 2018, he has taught Language Arts to children of all ages. He enjoys working with AoPS students, the leaders of the future, because they are passionate about the English language and literary studies. Zach holds a BA in English literature from the University of California, San Diego and an MA and PhD in English literature from the University of California, Davis. He began his career in education in 2011, working originally in San Diego and Sacramento as a professional tutor/mentor and as an Associate Instructor at the University of California. Zach's teaching and research interests include contemporary fiction, science and technology studies, climate change, and human rights. In his spare time, Zach likes reading science fiction and fantasy novels, playing video games, and going on adventures with his two dogs.
Stephanie Lage - Associate Director
Stephanie is an Associate Director at AoPS Academy Bellevue. She has been working with AoPS students since 2017. 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 their math and science classes while in school. Stephanie quickly realized how much fun it is to help people explore new and difficult concepts by challenging them to think through their own ideas. Stephanie 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 have included teaching math to 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.
Vince Gil - Associate Director
Vince is an Associate Director at AoPS Academy Bellevue. Previously, he chaired the math department at Western Hills High School in Fort Worth, Texas, where he was 2017–2018 Teacher of the Year. Vince is passionate about making math fun and showing his students how it applies to their lives. He has taught middle and high school math in the US and in Korea and has worked with IB, AP, and pre-AP students. Vince has a BS in math and MS in mathematics teaching from Texas Woman’s University. In his free time, he likes to practice Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and try new foods.
Dr. Roger Chao - Associate Director
Roger is an Associate Director at AoPS Academy Bellevue. His love of reading and writing began at five years old, when he immigrated to the United States from China. To help him learn English, his mother took him to the local library every week, where he checked out piles of books each visit. Roger completed his Ph.D. in English with a focus in Language and Rhetoric at the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington. Before joining the team in 2021, Roger was an assistant professor of writing and rhetoric at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. He has experience teaching writing in a variety of contexts, from running poetry workshops with 4th and 5th graders to leading college-level rhetoric courses.
Elif is a math teacher who loves everything about math. She has a bachelor's degree in mathematics education and currently studying for her master's degree in mathematics at the American College of Education. During her career, she worked as a tutor, substitute teacher, and mentor. She taught middle school math in Arizona for the past four years. She believes math is fun and likes to show it to her students by connecting math concepts with real-life and including challenging and engaging games in her lessons. She loves making interactive online games and sharing them on her website with students around the world. When she is not teaching, she enjoys cooking, traveling, reading, and cycling.
Sam received his MA in elementary education in 2020 with the hope of working with gifted students. His classroom experiences include working in a multicultural preschool, a first grade classroom in West Seattle, and a second grade gifted classroom in Bellevue. He believes that reading and writing are paramount in understanding and applying knowledge throughout one’s lifetime. He enjoys teaching students how to master these skills. Sam is an avid reader and especially enjoys graphic novels, creative nonfiction, and poetry. He moved to the Seattle area with his partner in 2015. They spend their time off exploring the area and seeing as many concerts as they can.
Dr. Zheyi Chen
Zheyi received her PhD in Applied Physics from Rice University in 2008. She then worked for Shell as an engineer for ten years before moving to Seattle with her family. Since then, Zheyi has taught math, physics, and engineering classes at top private schools in the Seattle area. She loves teaching and believes personalized teaching is key. She also believes interest is the best teacher. Identifying and inspiring the curiosity of her students in areas they are interested in is her mission. She is excited to bring her experience to AoPS and help her students achieve their full potential regardless of their intelligence level and cultural background.
Ansley is a writer and educator with an MFA in creative writing, specializing in poetry, from the University of Colorado in Boulder. She loves working with students of all ages and has taught rhetoric and composition, literature, and creative writing at the University of Colorado, as well as at various community colleges. She has also worked as a literacy specialist for the Boys & Girls Club, a literacy interventionist for Highline Public Schools, and an elementary school poetry instructor. Once upon a time, she lived and taught English in France, and today she loves to help students explore the world through literature and language. One of her favorite parts about teaching is watching students get excited about stories—whether their own stories or others’. When she’s not in the classroom, she loves reading, writing poetry, hiking in the mountains with her dog, and chatting in “franglais” with her family.
Michael Hunter Cochran
Michael loves problem solving. He earned his BS in math and physics from Union University and his MA in physics from Stony Brook University. He has tutored students from elementary school through college and taught introductory physics courses at Stony Brook. Michael is excited to be working with motivated learners in Bellevue and can’t wait to guide his students toward a deeper appreciation of math and logic. He and his wife recently moved to Seattle, where he loves hiking and exploring in his spare time.
Vanessa Louise Essler
Vanessa is an award-winning fiction author and fan of word puzzles. She received a BA in English and creative writing at Southern New Hampshire University and an MFA in writing popular fiction from Seton Hill University. Her love of English drew her to tutor Shakespeare in high school where she realized she loved engaging others in the material; she has been tutoring and teaching ever since. She is excited to share her knowledge and enthusiasm for literary studies to AoPS. In her free time, she is usually in the kitchen trying her hand at a new challenging recipe or planning her next family vacation adventure.
Zak graduated with his BS in Physics from Northern Arizona University, minoring in both math and studio arts. Shortly afterward, he taught high school pre-calculus and privately tutored in both Arizona and Washington. He has an extensive background in challenge course operation and facilitation and enjoys working outside with kids. He is equally at home swinging from ropes 50 feet in the air as he is helping students through difficult math problems. Zak believes that experiencing and overcoming the trials of solving novel problems while still in school is one of the cornerstones of a happy and fulfilling life. In his spare time he draws, paints, and is working on an animated short film.
Alexa has a BA in mathematics from Reed College, an MA in mathematics from the University of Pennsylvania, and an MEd in elementary Montessori education from the University of Hartford. She is an experienced Montessori teacher and has also taught mathematics at the undergraduate and graduate level, including as part of the Math for Teaching program at Harvard University. All in all, she has taught and tutored mathematics students ranging in age from 6 to 60. A native of Portland, Oregon, she has lived in Sweden, Canada, Boston, Santa Cruz, Philadelphia, and Cleveland. However, she will always consider the Pacific Northwest home.
Danny graduated with a BS in computer engineering from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Towards the second half of his 20–year career as a software engineer, Danny began to dabble in coaching teams for math competitions at his children’s schools. Since then, he has dived in head first by preparing over 200 students in the past 9 years for local and nationwide competitions, earning dozens of awards. For several years, he has chaired math competition programs—first at Bellevue’s Somerset Elementary School and then at Sammamish's Eastside Catholic School. To date, he has tutored nearly 100 middle– and high–school students in mathematics.
Alex has been teaching and tutoring math since his college days at the University of Michigan. He loves seeing his student succeed and has taught at Seattle’s Northwest School as well as at local community colleges. Alex is currently a graduate student twice over: he's pursuing a Master’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Washington, and an MBA in business administration from UCLA. Outside the classroom, he enjoys watching and playing sports, hiking, and exploring the beautiful Northwest. Alex’s favorite foods are sushi and Korean BBQ.
Dr. Raif Majeed
As a kid, Raif loved math, filling notepads with formula derivations. As an adult, Raif has spent ten years coaching elementary-school students for advanced math contests, including AMC 8 and MATHCOUNTS. He received his BS in physics at Caltech and his PhD in atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington, focusing on the physics and chemistry of cloud particles. As a software test engineer, he hunts for bugs in applications, operating systems, and websites. His passion is helping young children stretch their abilities, build self-confidence, and learn terrible math jokes. He has also been playing and coaching ultimate frisbee for 30 years. Nowadays, Raif is learning about gardening; he’s still trying to produce his first vegetable.
Adam graduated from Princeton University, earning a BA in Philosophy, focused on Logic and the Foundations of Mathematics. He furthered his studies with a MS in Logic, Computation, and Methodology of Science at Carnegie Mellon University. Adam's expertise comes from focusing on the “how” and “why” of problems and exercises. Understanding “why” a method works and “how” to implement it can get you to any “what.” Adam has cultivated a passion for getting young students excited about the endless possibilities that different subjects have to offer and demonstrating how fun and rewarding they can be. He enjoys helping students exercise their resourcefulness to tackle challenging problems and build confidence. In his free time, Adam loves to play card games and board games. Magic: The Gathering is a personal favorite, but he enjoys any game which challenges players to apply logic and arithmetic to outwit their opponents or succeed together.
Yogesh is an electronics engineer by training and has earned his master’s degree in computer vision from IIT Kharagpur, India. Yogesh takes special interest in mathematics and achieved perfect scores on standardized testing in mathematics multiple times. Apart from a career spanning roles from software engineer to a manager mentoring budding engineers, he has been tutoring mathematics for several years now at multiple levels. He focuses on developing the thought process of his students that allow them to take on challenges. Yogesh has also coached his son’s soccer teams in the past and is involved in local community activities.
Todd W. Powell
Language arts instructor Todd is a freelance writer and stay-at-home dad. He earned his MA in English from the University of Virginia and his BA from Whitman College, and has worked as a travel magazine editor. Todd’s stories have received first-place awards from the Society of Professional Journalists and The Writer magazine. He first found his love of teaching when he worked as a writing tutor at Whitman. These days, Todd is excited to work with AoPS Academy students on all aspects of their writing and storytelling. Outside the classroom, Todd loves taking photographs and writing and performing music for his baritone ukulele.
Cameron graduated with her BS in Mathematics and BA in Economics from Pacific Lutheran University in 2019. In 2021, she earned her MA in Mathematics from the University of Montana. While in school, Cameron spent time private tutoring and playing interactive mathematical games with young students. Cameron seeks to help students develop confidence and a growth mindset in their mathematical abilities. Her favorite part about working with students is their excitement, honesty, and ability to create fun—Cameron always learns from her students. Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, Cameron developed a love for outdoor recreation and enjoys snowboarding, water skiing, hiking, and soaking up the sun. Cameron dearly loves her friends and family and hopes to adopt a dog in the future.
Dr. Arden Rundell
Dr. Rundell teaches language arts at AoPS Academy Bellevue. She received her PhD in business management from Arizona State University, as well as an MBA and a BA in psychology from Western Washington University. In addition to her long corporate career, she has taught college business courses to young adults, ESL to older adults, and music to elementary and middle school students. Dr. Rundell is also a passionate musician who plays the violin in the Bellevue Philharmonic. She is excited to impart her passion for education to the students at AoPS Academy!
Dr. Robert Daniel Rubin
Robert joined AoPS in 2019 as a language arts instructor. His PhDs in history and American studies are from Indiana University. Robert has derived untold joy and satisfaction from his work as a college professor, author, and schoolteacher. Bright students, he finds, are his greatest teachers. One of his goals in the classroom is to cultivate multiple perspectives within each student—to enable them to see through eyes different from their own. Robert’s published work examines citizens’ cultural identities, social status, and beliefs about the proper structure and scope of government. Thinking about such matters makes him very happy. So does spending time with his wife and eight-year-old son. And so does working with AoPS students.
Dr. Mary Sanford
Dr. Sanford is an award-winning instructor who has been a lifelong educator and a teacher of teachers. She has a BS in special education, K-12, from Bloomsburg University, a MS degree in learning disabilities with a reading specialist certificate, K-12, also from Bloomsburg University, a Certificate of Advanced Study (CAS) from the the State University of New York at Oswego, and a Ph.D. in adult education and training from Syracuse University. She’s taught reading, English, college success, and teacher education courses to students from elementary school through the doctoral level. She also has a wealth of experience tutoring international students both in the US as well as abroad in Spain. She is passionate about teaching and loves finding creative ways to engage students in learning. When Mary isn’t teaching, she loves to travel, write, bake, and hang out with her ridiculously adorable Golden Doodles Gracie and Mabel.
Sabrina started tutoring her classmates in middle school and has been teaching math ever since. Sabrina holds a bachelor’s degree in secondary mathematics education from Florida International University, and has taught algebra, precalculus, trigonometry, and AP calculus AB/BC in Miami, Florida. She enjoys helping each of her students navigate their own unique challenges and loves seeing them become strong, confident critical thinkers.
Doug’s interest in math and physics led him to graduate from UC Irvine with bachelor’s degree in physics. Encouraged by the developing fusion technology, Doug went to UC Davis and spent many happy lab hours integrating laser and plasma technology while earning a master’s degree in applied science. Shortly after graduate school, Doug was recruited to start a middle school program on Whidbey Island. For 20+ years, Doug inspired young people to discover their love of math and science. Now, Doug has brought his humor and enthusiasm for math to our AoPS Academy. In his spare time, Doug enjoys hiking in nature, running around the soccer pitch, and studying martial arts.
Walter graduated with a PhD in electrical engineering from MIT with a minor in mathematics. He has taught numerous college classes, including calculus at Georgia Tech and the University of Minnesota, probability at MIT, and machine learning, image processing, DSP, digital logic, and signals/systems at Seattle University. Walter coached secondary school math teams for Math Is Cool championships and masters, WA State Math Olympiad, Math Kangaroo, MATHCOUNTS, & AMC8/10. He’s written questions/exams for high school state math tournaments and Mu Alpha Theta national contests. Walter enjoyed math competitions growing up, qualifying for the national MATHCOUNTS competition, AIME, USAMO, & ARML US/Soviet exchange, placing 2nd at Mu Alpha Theta nationals, scoring in the top 3 for his college's Putnam exam all four years, and winning the math gold medal at the national Academic Decathlon competition.
Himanee has been a passionate and an avid student of mathematics. She holds a BS in mathematics as well as a bachelor’s degree in education from reputed universities of India. She has been teaching mathematics and science for more than 15 years as a full time teacher both in India and the United States. She loves spending time with children of all age groups when it comes to learning and teaching math. She loves to help build the growth mindset and problem-solving attitude in all of her students. She is an avid reader who loves non-fiction and literature. When outdoors, she loves tracking and light nature walks. She’s also an excellent cook and loves to learn and experiment with Asian and continental food.
Robert has been teaching for over fifteen years. He has taught in four different countries outside of the United States and has enjoyed being exposed to the many cultures and ways that foreign students learn math. He was educated at both the University of Washington and Washington State University, earning BS degrees in math and statistics, and a Master's in education. His love of math was inspired by his early reading of books on Astronomy, the artwork of M.C. Escher, and the many road atlases that his grandparents would gift to him at Christmas. He is looking forward to sharing his love of math with his students here at AoPS Academy Bellevue!
Aihoon has taught writing, media, and communication-related subjects at the National University of Singapore and the Singapore University of Social Sciences for more than 10 years. A native of Singapore, Aihoon has traveled extensively as a television documentary producer and trainer and has lived in the Philippines and Myanmar before moving to the Seattle area. She loves to connect with people from different cultures because she believes there is so much we can learn from each other. A firm believer that learning should be fun and relevant, Aihoon brings her global perspective into the classroom. As a foodie, she gets rid of those calories by swimming several times a week.
Dr. Steven Ziskind
Steve received his BS from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his PhD from the University of California, Los Angeles, both in mathematics. He then taught at Wayne State University in Detroit for 5 years. For the next 30+ years, he worked for Boeing, designing avionics algorithms and software. Having retired from Boeing, he is now an adjunct professor in the Bellevue College math department, as well as a volunteer in their Math Lab. He has had a lifelong fascination with mathematics, and loves to share his passion with others.