Let's start from the beginning...
When I was in high school, I failed Grade 11 math twice - TWICE! I wanted to marry Keanu Reeves and become an actress (which basically meant that I COULDN'T be good at math because duh, actresses are artsy not mathy), loved painting and drawing, and basically got kicked out of school because well, I hated school. My parents were having none of it so sent me to this amazing and magical alternative school where the term "math person" wasn't a thing. I got a 99% in math that year and went on to LOVE MATH and basically develop an obsession with making sure that no one ever feels inherently bad at anything - especially math - ever again.
I went to uni, got my Bcom, then my diploma in graphic design, THEN went to teacher's college, and finally...
Fast forward to teacher's college and actually teaching in my very first classroom. When I walked into this high school's math department, I was asked (obvs by a man) what a "pretty girl like me was doing being a math teacher." Like, is this 1942? While actually TEACHING (despite being 'too pretty' to actually do so), I noticed that every single super smart girl in my class was acting completely clueless despite their proven ability, I was like WHAT is going ON, I then took a break from teaching to do my Masters in Math Education & Feminist Theory in order to figure out what the heck was happening, culminating in my thesis: Imagining a world where Paris Hilton loves math, in which I explored the effects of media messaging which basically tells girls they have to give up their identities to be good at math. Like hello, have you ever seen a movie with a cheerleader...who's ALSO good at math? No. The cheerleader is ALWAYS giving the math-smart girl a makeover. DUH.
So...back to now. I founded The Math Guru in Toronto 5 years ago, a super chill space for all students to feel safe and inspired in exploring and learning math & science - a space where even students like ME can love math! The Math Guru isn't what you picture when you picture 'a tutoring centre.' It's more like your best friend's living room, but like, we learn math and science and laugh and drink tea and have the best time and realize that everything's going to be ok:) I speak at conferences all over the place about negative representations of women in mathematics imposed upon us by popular media and workshop with girls on how to come up with NEW media messaging that inspires (not bullies) girls!
I want to make sure that the belief that such a thing as a "math person" even EXISTS, gets eradicated once and for all. I'm in it to win it and I'm ready to do whatever it takes to change the world - and I'm starting by changing the hearts and minds of each and every one of our students!
what makes ME an awesome tutor
Ummm I failed math. TWICE. So I feel your pain:) But also, I totally get how psychological the idea of doing well at math can be. It's all about confidence, the belief in yourself, and in your ability to do ANYTHING you put your mind to. My greatest strength? I am a HERO when it comes to giving a good pep talk!
Life goal: SO many life goals. Right now they include being a guest on The Ellen Show, becoming bff with Mindy Kaling, and ultimately, getting rid of the stereotype that people who like math & science aren't 'cool.' I AM GOING TO MAKE MATH COOL JUST WATCH ME!
Words to Live By: It may be cliche, but really, it's what I live by: "Be the change you wish to see in the world" ~ Gandhi
Favourite Mathematical Weapon: Confidence and perspective. Math is just a series of cool ideas, concepts and formulas - and YOU are like a super cool detective ready to solve the puzzles of the universe. Like, think it, believe it, OWN IT!
get to know vanessa
Education: I have my Bcom in Marketing Management, a diploma in Graphic Design, a teaching degree in secondary school math AND a Masters in Math Ed with a focus on Feminist Theory!
Fave Tech device: Ugh my phone...I'm one of those!
Fave Book: You Are A Badass by Jen Sincero - READ IT!
Fave Song: Literally changes every day - right now I would say hmmm ANYthing by Florence and the Machine!
Fave Outfit: Leggings and a comfy sweater
Fave TV Show: The Mindy Project ALL the way YAY diversity in STEM!
Fave Movie: Clueless. I've seen it over 100 times!
When I'm not crunching numbers: I’m usually at band practice or playing shows with my band, Goodnight, Sunrise. We're trying to become famous rockstars so any producers, bookers, promoters reading this - HOLLA!
What’s the best thing about me? I would say probably my conviction that ANYTHING is possible if you want it badly enough. I truly believe that - and I will make you believe it too:)
I actually ALWAYS loved exam time when I was a student! I LOVED organizing my notes, studying for hours on end, and truly mastering whatever subject it was that I was being tested on. Filling your brain with knowledge is legit one of the coolest things EVER - like imagine pouring information into a brain?! Just THINK about that for a second!