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Former Scientist Trades England for Jackson Heights

By Katie Honan | May 20, 2014 8:44am
  Math Matters has expanded to include two centers in Jackson Heights and one in Corona. 
Former Scientist's Test Prep Center Meets Demands with New Spaces
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CORONA — A professor and former scientist has a formula for kids' success — low-priced tutoring that combines small classes with high-quality instructors, many of whom are retired college teachers.

Syed Hossain, 34, worked as a scientist at Procter & Gamble in Newcastle, England, for three and a half years before joining his family in Queens, working as an adjunct professor at LaGuardia Community College.

He opened Math Matters in 2010 after realizing students needed help that he could provide.

"The school system can't teach everything — we have to fill the gap," he said.

Hossain, who grew up Bangladesh and went to school all over Europe, understood how transformative a good education can be.

He opened Math Matters in a few suites inside an office building on 37th Avenue and 82nd Street in 2010, focusing on core subjects such as math.

Within a few months he expanded, first by hiring additional tutors and then by opening up two other offices  one near the 74th Street subway station and another on Junction Boulevard in Corona.

Despite an influx of similar centers in the neighborhood, Hossain said his stands out because he doesn't require parents to sign a contract or pay for big packages in advance.

He recognizes that many of his students struggle financially, so his classes are reasonable, between $10 an hour for elementary school tutoring and up to $15 an hour for SAT prep.

Classes of kids from third grade through high school are small, around five to six students, and most are taught by retired professors and graduate students.

And each student is given a personalized lesson plan when they start, which is determined through entrance exams and an analysis of their report cards and grades.

More than 200 students take classes at the three branches, each looking for help in a variety of subjects — from Common Core struggles to Regents test prep.

Kalachand Dutta, 43, lives in Jackson Heights and has sent his two children, Angandas and Arithura, to Math Matters for six months.

He tried other test prep centers, he said, but found his children have excelled at this program.

"They've progressed really good," he said. "They're both doing much better, and the price is right."

For Hossain, the goal is to both help students excel and teach them leadership skills. In the future he hopes to put lessons online so students can get help remotely. 

"The things I've learned so far, I'd like to transfer to young people," he said. "This is the small journey that I've started."