Our History

The creation of Spirit of Math Schools has been a gradual progression which occurred in two distinct stages. The first stage involved the creation of the curriculum and unique approach to teaching mathematics, and the second was to transform that curriculum into a program that could be taught by many people, paralleled with the development of the business system and teacher training.

Stage 1: Creation of the Curriculum

Charles Ledger developed the Spirit of Math curriculum over a twenty year period starting in the 1980’s while teaching at Zion Heights Junior High School in North York, Ontario, Canada. Charles had students coming in from various feeder schools, bringing with them a variety of strengths and weaknesses. In order to put all the students onto a level playing field he felt that they needed to learn how math worked and thus developed the Relocation Property, the grid-pattern for the drills and the units that followed it. The students could then work with the mathematical concepts, rather than focusing just on numbers. Charles’ wife, Gwen, who was also an outstanding teacher, also used this program in her classes and helped to consolidate his ideas.

This, in combination with their deep understanding of how to work effectively with students, brought about what we call today the “Spirit of Math” approach to teaching mathematics. Charles took what “worked” the best for his students and developed a day-school program in the classroom with the sole purpose of teaching children an understanding of mathematics. Fraser Simpson joined him at this time and complemented Charles’ program by providing intense and intriguing mathematics problems.

The key components of the program included the focus on 4 strands: the drills, problem of the week, the independent problem solving, and classroom instructions with a non-spiral curriculum from grades 5 and up. This combined with a strong emphasis on group work and allowing kids to be accountable for their learning has created a recipe for outstanding success.

After the after-school school started (as outlined below), the material that Charles and Fraser put together was extended by Gwen, and his daughter Kimberley (Ledger) Langen, by taking the same concepts and extending them down into the primary and junior grades, and up into the senior grades. The content was created, and now it had to be manipulated so that it could be taught by many teachers. Starting in 2001, Kim headed this transformation and Charles quickly joined. Other very strong mathematics educators are now involved in the evolution of the curriculum.

Stage 2: The Transformation – Development of the Schools

The development of the schools was primarily a response to the demand from parents and students. They wanted to learn from this program after Charles retired. Both Charles and Gwen ran a couple of very successful summer programs and decided to teach some of the program to kids after school. Different units were taught, but not the whole program. At this time, Kim joined them, and in 1992, ran the program on her own in the basement of her home. During that year she created a cohesive after-school school system that is the basis for the schools as we see it now. The complete grade 7, 8 and 9 programs were being taught, the assistant teacher program was started and many of the business-school structures were established. Charles and Gwen then re-joined the program and taught, and continued to develop the curriculum for the lower grades.

Spirit of Math Schools Inc. was first incorporated in 1995, by Gwen Ledger and Kimberley Langen. They were the first owners and directors. As of 2002, the corporation was transferred to Kimberley.

A huge change happened in 2001, when Gwen passed away. It was at this time that the formal business took off. Kim created all the drill books by grade, created 3 new drills, hired teachers to work full-time with SMS, and with Charles’ help created a comprehensive curriculum with full examples and solutions for every grade, for 39 weeks of classes. In addition, Kim created a very intense teacher training program, the business system and the franchise system.

Over the next couple of years many other people joined SMS, including Kim’s sister, Mary, one of her brothers, Lorin and her husband Darrin. Spirit of Math Schools employees are now integral to Spirit of Math Schools and the driving force in many parts of the business. The structure of the corporation now includes a schools system, training and curriculum development, (including workshops for day-school teachers), and marketplace material.

In 2006 Spirit of Math Schools incorporated Spirit of Math Development, which is the franchising arm. The first 3 franchises opened their classroom doors to students in September 2006, located in Mississauga, Brampton and Markham Ontario, Canada. In 2007, the teacher mentoring program started.

Spirit of Math Schools Inc. is now having an affect in many schools throughout Canada, in parts of Uganda, East Africa, and has garnered considerable interest in many other countries.

The success of the Spirit of Math program can be evidenced by the number of competitions won by its students over the past twenty years:

During the 1980’s and early 90’s, Charles’ and Frasers’ classes using Spirit of Math produced more Canadian Junior High School Championship Teams in mathematics competitions than all other schools combined. During those 13 years, Spirit of Math students won over 80% of the Ontario Team Championships

In the fall of 2003, over 4,000 students competed throughout North America in a math competition open to the general public. First and second place were won by Spirit of Math students.

In 2007, Spirit of Math students had over 130 placements on National Mathematics Competition Honour rolls.

Today, Spirit of Math campuses are growing and continuing to meet the needs of students who are looking for high quality enrichment.

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