**DR. MARTY EPSTEIN...** **(PhD Math Education)**

I love math, hold a PhD in Math Education, thought graduate-level statistics classes were a blast, and once won an award in calculus. My current passion for helping young children learn and love math was sparked years ago when my oldest son had a near-disastrous experience with algebra.

Alarm bells sounded when he almost flunked an algebra test. I met with his teacher to understand what was going on and what we could do about it. She said from what she'd seen, "he's just bad at math." I knew that wasn't the case. Luckily, I had the math knowledge and time to help my son.

This troubling experience of my son's in a subject he'd previously excelled at and enjoyed motivated me to start reading about math education. It turns out that many kids don't even start kindergarten with the foundational math skills they need. While some families turn to private, costly math tutoring to help their children, most families cannot afford this expense. As a result, too many children struggle without foundational math concepts and skills, saddling them with math anxiety and forever changing their future career options.

That didn't seem fair! That didn't seem right! I wanted to do something! How could I help? So, when life stopped getting in the way, I went back to school. I revisited some of my own math education and earned a PhD in Math Education, focusing on how young children learn math and what can go wrong. Now, I am using what I know about how children learn math to develop Smiling Dog® Math books and materials to help more children learn and love math.

As time permits, I also tutor math. Perhaps because I learned math by understanding it, not memorizing it, I've had a lot of success tutoring math. Recently, a parent wrote that her child "*has progressed far more with you than with anyone else. It isn't even close.*"

Here's a few fun facts about me:

- Originally from western Massachusetts, I graduated from Williams College (Phi Beta Kappa and
*magna cum laude*). - In college, I was a Division I
*All American*ski racer. That experience of training and competing at a high level got me interested in how people learn and develop expertise. I studied human perception, learning, and performance on my way to earning an MS in Psychology (Penn State). - I transitioned to the business world where I leveraged strong quantitative skills and an MBA (Harvard) into a career in survey research and data analysis.
- In spite of my success in college and grad school, I know what it's like to struggle to learn. It turns out I'm severely dyslexic. I was good at compensating for it, and so my dyslexia went undiagnosed throughout most of my life. I've read that rote memorization tends to be very challenging for people with dyslexia. It sure is challenging for me! So when I'm trying to learn something, like math, I avoid memorizing and focus instead on understanding.
- My two sons developed my love of math. That son of mine who almost flunked algebra aced his algebra final and went on to major in math in college. He even received an undergraduate award in math. I guess he wasn't "just bad at math" after all. Like me, he needed to understand the math he was learning, not be encouraged to simply memorize. My younger son majored in physics and has received several physics awards across his graduate and undergraduate experience. Both of my sons are now pursuing PhDs in quantitative fields. While I once helped them both with math, now their math knowledge far surpasses mine. I'm a proud mom!
- I've been lucky enough to have two non-math children's books published (but under a different name). Casey and Derek on the Ice is one of them.
- The SMILING DOG® logo was inspired by my two mischievous terriers. They passed away in the year before I earned my PhD. I miss them terribly, but their playful spirit lives on. I've recently adopted a small terrier from a local shelter. He's very cute, full of energy, and loves long walks. I've included a picture!

Although I've lived a lot of interesting places, I once again call Massachusetts home.

For arranging school visits, or to get in touch about anything math related, just click on the **CONTACT** link at the top of each page.

Wishing you lots of fun with math!

Dr. Marty Epstein