It’s Stephanie Espy’s educational pedigree that stands out on first look. It starts at Southwest DeKalb High School. She graduated there in 1997. Then it moves to MIT in Massachusetts where she received a bachelor’s in chemical engineering in 2001. From there she went west to California – Berkeley specifically – where she got her master’s in chemical engineering. Then there’s the roundabout south, back to Atlanta and Emory University’s business school for yet another master’s earned in 2008.
It’s not the typical resume of your average, for-hire math tutor.
“So many careers these days require knowledge of mathematics,” she said. “Really, to be successful in your career or in general some basic level of math is important.”
And with that sort of enthusiasm for numbers, Espy started MathSP, a math tutoring and test preparation company based in Atlanta. The service is designed to assist students ranging from middle-schoolers to adults in the midst of career or educational changes who feel they need a brush-up before taking graduate school entrance exams, etc.
“A lot of the barriers for people that are going back to school are taking the tests,” she said.
When mentoring students looking to perform better on standardized tests, MathSP teaches students how to break down test questions into parts and examine them in pieces before trying to solve them. The service works with younger students in areas ranging from basic arithmetic to calculus, and it also helps people prepare for exams ranging from the PSAT to the GRE.
Espy said she remembers a particular student who had not been in a math class in about a decade and wanted to attend one of the country’s top business schools and needed to take the GMAT, a popular standardized test required for entry into many post-graduate business schools.
The woman took a practice test, Espy said, and scored a 400. The test maxes out at 800, and very good business programs require a score of at least 650, she said. After working with Espy, the student scored a 680 and received a scholarship, she said.
“Those kinds of experiences happen all the time where they came in with a very weak foundation, and they come out and do well,” Espy said. “They do what they thought they couldn’t do.”
She said her time at Emory’s business school inspired her to start MathSP, which has grown to include instructors in New York, according to a company statement. Espy also said she plans to hire additional instructors to take over her mentoring workload. The company also offered free courses to 15 students who applied in need of remediation before the SAT, GRE and GMAT.
“Part of what makes math fun or not fun is the teachers you’ve had,” Espy said. “I’ve been fortunate… to have really good teachers. If you have a good teacher, you understand it better. … There’s so many students out there who need this type of program.”