About Us

At Math Factor-e, we believe that excellence is an attitude and the pursuit of excellence is a journey. Coaches in Math factor-e inspire the students to actively explore and bring out their dormant creative problem solving skills, help them refine their approach to solutions and evaluate and appreciate the power of graceful solutions. Our students want to learn and we want to teach them.  We spend time developing interesting and meaningful materials that engage the students' interests.  Our coaches instill the excitement to discover the beauty of learning.


Program Director & Coach: Shobha Sankar

Shobha Sankar is the founder of Math factor-e. She believes young minds can take any challenge if the inner spark is ignited. Quality of education begins there. With that in mind, she worked alongside a group of parents to bring Mathcounts to schools in IPSD-204. Same year she lead the Gregory middle school team to second place in Mathcounts State level competitionin 2011.  Shobha Sankar holds a Masters in Electrical Engineering from Illinois Institute of Technology and has 20 years of technology experience in telecommunications. As an engineer she believes the problem solving skills can be cultivated with right amount of challenge and encouragement. Being a problem solver requires certain persistence, an open mind and a systematic approach.  This is a life learning skill they develop through their problem solving sessions. While encouraging every student to expand their horizons, inspiring more girls to break the barrier in Math competitions continues to be her special interest. 


Director & Coach : Mina Low - English & Language Arts Program

Mina Low designs and teaches the language arts classes at Math Factor-e. She received both her Bachelor of Education degree and Master of Reading Writing and Literacy degree at UIC. She is additionally endorsed in gifted education. Her classroom experience ranges from teaching in the inner city of Chicago to teaching in the Project Arrow program in Naperville’s district 204.  Educating and molding young minds as they grow in their abilities to write and think critically through reading and analysis is her passion. When Mina is not teaching, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two sons.

Coach : Karen Lindebrekke (Math & Science)

Karen Lindebrekke is a mathematics and science educator. She holds a M.S. Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction in Science and Mathematics and a B.A. in Zoology. She was formerly the Director of Programs at iBIO Institute EDUCATE Center where she developed and directed STEM after-school program and summer camps and Next Generation Science Standards and Problem-Based Learning (PBL) teacher professional development workshops. She also developed and directed Robert Morris University’s Science and Technology Enrichment Program for students in grades 4–5, and she was a Problem-Based Learning professional development specialist at the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy (IMSA). At IMSA she developed PBL training materials and curriculum units, trained and mentored teachers of grades preK–12 across multiple states; directed PBL STEM camps for children in grades 3–9 and trained alternative certification teacher candidates at Illinois Benedictine University. In addition, Karen has 15 years of high school and college mathematics and science teaching experience, has conducted ecological research, and she has trained teachers and students in field research. She is an author, a professional writer and editor of science and mathematics curricula and assessments, and has presented on PBL and Next Generation Science Standards across the country.

Coach : Ramya Ramana (Math & Computer Programming)


Ramya holds a Bachelors and Masters degree in Computer Science. She is also a certified Oracle Java Associate. She has worked as a developer in Wipro Systems and later as a product technical leader in Infosys. She brings 5 years of software development and technology experience to Math Factor-e. Ramya is passionate about teaching Computer programing and training students to develop the necessary problem solving skills to be technology ready.  She has mentored many students how to use these skills in their academic projects. She is an inspiring educator and a freelance developer. She teaches Computer Programming, Math and Problem Solving classes for Middle school and Elementary school students in Math Factor-e. Ramya loves the adventure of travel. She hardly misses an opportunity to hit the road.

Coach : John Choi (Honors Chemistry)


John Choi attended Steeple Run, Kennedy JHS, and Naperville North HS where he garnered multiple national, state, and local academic awards including National Merit and Illinois State Scholar awards. He was accepted into the University of Illinois at Chicago's GPPA-Medicine program, an eight-year program that conditionally grants acceptance into UIC's Medical School. After recognizing his passion to connect with people at a deeper emotional level, John switched career paths to pursue a master's degree in Counseling from Trinity International University. Mr. Choi tries to make learning fun and brings over 15 years of tutoring + teaching experience to Math Factor-e.


Coach: Piyali Sarkar (Math)

Piyali Sarkar currently teaches Math in Math Factor – e. She is responsible for guiding and assisting students to improve their problem solving capabilities by creating an inquiry based and encouraging environment. By showing the students that their thoughts and opinions are valued, she effectively engages the students in her class . Piyali holds a Masters degree in City Planning from Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur. When she is not teaching,she loves to spend time with her husband and daughter. She enjoys listening to Indian music and helps out at Bharat Sevashram, a disaster relief group in Chicago.





Flex Program Mentors

Pooja Patel is a junior in Neuqua Valley High School. Growing up, math has been her favorite subject in school. In sixth grade, Pooja started competitive math classes with Mrs. Sankar and has taken part in many math contests in middle school and continues to do so in high school. She is now a mentor in the Flex Practice Program. Pooja loves working with young learners. At school, she is a key player in Math Team. She is also very active in Business Professionals of America (BPA), and Model United Nations. Pooja’s hobbies include dancing and running. She has an interest in baking, as well. In her free time, she also loves spending time with her family and friends.

Currently a sophomore at Neuqua Valley High School, Rishelle Manda grew up as an active participant in many math competitions, and continues to share her love for math through the Flex Practice Program. She takes pride in helping others grow and hopes to spread her math-based knowledge. She believes that a true understanding of mathematics can lead to a future filled with wonderful opportunities, and that if one sets their mind to anything with full determination and true grit, they will not stray from the path to success. Along with mentoring Rishelle is a passionate competitive dancer and belongs to the Neuqua Valley Speech Team and Orchesis Dance Company. Her other hobbies include baking, singing, and spending time with friends and family every chance she gets.