MARIETTA - Lola Ajayi, 33, of Smyrna, has always been good at math.
She majored in computer information systems at Georgia State University, and has an MBA from there as well. Ajayi worked for many years in the corporate world, managing the marketing platforms for Bacardi USA Inc. and Atlanta-based Home Depot.
While she was making good money, Ajayi felt like something was missing. She consistently tutored children in math on the side, but wanted to "do something for herself."
So she made a move and recently opened her own math-focused learning center near The Avenue of West Cobb, in an effort to teach kids that "math is fun," she said.
Mathnasium franchise popular
The center is part of a franchise of math centers called Mathnasiums, Ajayi said, which was created by a former teacher in 2002.
Since then, the franchises have exploded, with more than 400 existing international locations, including some in Savannah, Augusta and as far away as Canada.
There are at least three in Cobb County: one in east Cobb one in Smyrna and Ajayi's new west Cobb location.
"Our goal is to significantly increase your child's math skills, understanding of math concepts, and overall school performance. ... Children don't hate math. They hate being confused and intimidated by math," a Mathnasium website reads.
Steve Kleinrichert, the director of the east Cobb Mathnasium, said his location has seen tremendous growth since its inception in 2003.
His center had to move to a new location so it could accommodate a growing number of students. As of January, the center had close to 100 steady students, he said, compared to just a few the year his center opened.
The focus on math is crucial to the future of Cobb students, Kleinrichert said.
"Math has become a dominant player in the world marketplace. ... America has started to lose some of its competitive edge to our foreign competitors," who are outpacing Americans in developing technology, he said.
By teaching students to have confidence in math, Kleinrichert believes the nation can bounce back to better compete with foreign competitors.
How the west Cobb location works
Ajayi is determined to make math fun for Cobb students, and hopes her new center will be family-oriented and close-knit.
The center is painted red, black and white, and filled with chairs, math puzzles and games.
Students can come in whenever they want while the center is open each weekday afternoon and Saturday mornings, and hook up with one of the center's five instructors.
As students work through math worksheets and problems, the instructors move around the center, checking problems and playing math games.
Students typically stay for about an hour each visit, but can stop by the center as many times as they want in a week, Ajayi said.
The Mathnasium method of coaching and teaching has a great success rate, Ajayi said, and she hopes to improve her student's test scores by at least 25 percent, depending on their grade level.
"I want students to learn to love and enjoy math," she said.
In this day and age, it is crucial that students understand the basic concepts of math, she added, as many of the nation's top-paying jobs are based on a foundation of math.
"Math is everywhere. You can't escape it," Ajayi said.
The west Cobb center's hours and a list of pricing options for parents can be found on the center's website: www.mathnasium.com/westmarietta.