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 : Kathy Nickelman - English & Language Arts Program

Kathy Nickelman will be joining us to teach the ACT/SAT English, middle school and high school writing courses. She was a teacher in Scullen middle school before joining our team. She has many years of experience working with middle school and high school students. Kathy has taught ACT/SAT courses at College of DuPage, and most importantly, she has proven success and can help your child reach their fullest potential! Kathy attended both Illinois State University and University of Illinois to obtain her teaching degree, along with a master’s degree in curriculum in literacy. Kathy has over 30 years of teaching experience, including 21 years in district 204! 

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 : 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

Currently a senior 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 loves working with students to spread as much knowledge as possible. She believes that inspiring young students to set their mind on their goals with full passion and true grit will keep them on the path to success for life. As is shown through her ideology, Rishelle was able to score a 36 on her ACT! Along with mentoring, Rishelle is a director of the NVHS Orchesis Dance Company, President of Neuqua’s Aspiring Medical Professionals Club, Vice President of Business Professionals of America, and a PE Leader. Outside of Neuqua, she volunteers at the Presence Saint Joseph Medical Center and Achieve Physical Therapy, and is a devoted competitive dancer!


Rohan Sanjay will be a senior at Neuqua Valley this upcoming school year. At Neuqua Valley High School, some of the things he is involved in include Robotics, Math Honors Society, Model UN, Computing team, and tennis. Outside of school, he competitively plays tennis, coaches younger students, and participates in robotics/coding related activities. Throughout his childhood, older students have continuously guided him and made a positive impact on his life. He loves having the opportunity to make the same impact on other students as he has experienced himself. Math is something he has developed a passion for and finds very powerful, and being able to help other students grow is very rewarding to him. He believes hard work and determination enables students to achieve whatever they set out to do. Some of his other hobbies include ​​biking and listening to music. 

Aakash Basu is an undergraduate student at Vanderbilt University, and is majoring in neuroscience. He has been part of the Math Factor-E team for three years, and thus has experience teaching elementary school mathematics, middle school mathematics, competitive mathematics, Pre-Calculus, Calculus, and Biology. He has also been involved in academic competitions for many years, and has earned awards in Illinois Science Olympiad, Chicago Brain Bee, Log1 mathematics competition, and ICTM mathematics competitions. He enjoys tutoring fellow students because it allows him to participate in the spreading of knowledge, and helps provide students with a passion for learning. He hopes that he will be able to not only provide information, but help students become better learners. His hobbies include cycling and cooking scrambled eggs. 


Callie Vitro is a current student at American University in Washington, DC studying Justice, Law, and Criminology, as well as Psychology. She is passionate about working with students of all ages, both as a soccer coach and a mentor here at Math Factor-e. When she was younger, she had teachers, coaches, and mentors that really made a difference in my life, and she works with young children in order to attempt to pass what she learned onto them. These are integral years in a child's life, and she thinks it's incredibly important that they receive positive and effective learning opportunities! In her free time, she enjoys running, reading, and watching soccer and baseball!

This fall, Isha will be a senior at Neuqua Valley High School. At Neuqua, she is involved in Model UN, Business Professionals of America and Youth and Government and am also a perfect ACT scorer. Some of her other hobbies include reading, traveling, listening to music and spending time with friends and family. She is looking forward to working with students because she loves kids and believes that encouragement and good instruction from a young age are required to be successful in the future. 

Samarth graduated the 8th grade, and will be moving on to high school this fall. Math has always been his favorite subject in school which has lead to it becoming one of his passions. He began competitive math in 5th grade, and he participated in various middle school competitions in which he was the captain of his school’s math team. Samarth hopes to continue competitive math through high school. He is very excited to help younger students, and to share his passion for math. During his free time, Samarth can be seen swimming, playing the piano, or spending time with friends and family.

Hari Sridhara is a senior at Neuqua Valley High School who has been involved with math and problem solving for many years. This year will be his 6th year participating in competitive math and his 3rd year as an oralist for the Neuqua Valley Math Team. Outside of the mathematics field, he demonstrates his passion for music through numerous extracurricular ensembles. Hari is one of the drum majors of the Marching Wildcats, Vice President of music honor society, and plays in Neuqua’s jazz and steel bands as well. Lastly, Hari plays on the school’s varsity ultimate frisbee team, competing at national level tournaments. 
Hari is thrilled to be a part of the Math Factor-e team due to his passion for problem solving and watching others succeed by spreading his knowledge and love of math. 


Roshan will be a junior at IMSA and am an avid participant in many math competitions. Since 6th grade, he has been one of the leading members of Math Team and has performed well in many contests including MATHCOUNTS, AMC 8, AMC 10, AIME, USAJMO, ARML, ICTM, NSML, HiMCM, and Mandelbrot. Some of his greatest accomplishments include being the MATHCOUNTS Chapter Champion, receiving 12th at MATHCOUNTS State for two years, receiving High Honor Roll for AMC 8 and AMC 10, receiving a score of 10 on the AIME, and qualifying for the USAJMO. He enjoys working with students to help them develop mathematically and believe that enhancing one’s problem solving abilities allows one to excel both at school and in future endeavors, even outside of STEM fields. In addition to math, he participates in Science Olympiad and will be a Peer Tutor at IMSA. His other hobbies include playing tennis and swimming, as well as playing the piano.


Sanchali will be a junior at Metea Valley High School next fall. At Metea, she is involved in the Business Professionals of America, is a FreshConnect Leader and in the Principles Advisory Board.  She has been a part of the Math Factor-E from 6th grade to the end of 8th grade. She is passionate about working with kids of all ages! Some of her hobbies include, dancing, swimming, hanging out with friends, shopping, painting and drawing and much more. She plays the viola at her school orchestra and is in one of the higher levels. She loves math and she can't wait to share her passion for math with younger students!