Excellence in Elementary Mathematics

Innovation in Action

Young children are like sponges—they soak up every bit of learning and can't wait for the next drop. At the Lower School, we continually assess the best ways for our students to learn and grow, based on current research, experience, and the expertise of our faculty. For more than a decade our students have benefited from a rich mathematics program based on the work of educational leaders such as Kathy Richardson, Kathy Fosnot, Jo Boaler, and Monica Neagoy. Currently, we are excited that an innovative program called Math in Focus by Singapore Math provides the foundation for our teaching and learning.

This program provides 
meaningful learning experiences where students solve problems, reason about their mathematical thinking, and communicate their ideas in written and oral form. This promotes connections between mathematical ideas and real-life experiences. Large and small group instruction, hands-on activities with manipulatives, calculators, iPads, cooperative work, and physical and online math games are all included in the curriculum to meet individual needs and learning styles. Explore this page to learn more about our math program!

Learn More About Math in Focus

List of 6 items.

  • What is Math in Focus?

    It's an authentic Singapore Math curriculum—with problem solving as the center of math learning and concepts taught with a concrete–pictorial–abstract learning progression through real-world, hands-on experiences. The focus is on how to best facilitate students explaining their thinking and not just sharing their answers. This fosters multiple, creative pathways to arrive at the same result and enriches the learning of the entire class. 
  • Are Singapore Math and Math in Focus the same program?

    Yes! The name Singapore Math refers to the teaching methods or the actual curriculum used for elementary students in Singapore. In the 1980s and 1990s, Singapore examined best practices worldwide and created a rigorous program that focused on problem solving and mastery of the most important mathematical skills and concepts. Between 1984 and 1995, the nation moved from 16th in the world to No. 1 in mathematics performance, and the successful program they developed was honed and enhanced in the following decade. The program has been used worldwide and was introduced to the United States under the name Math in Focus.
  • Why Math in Focus?

    • Clarity of the materials (students don’t get lost in wordy instructions and descriptions)
    • Focus on the most critical mathematical concepts
    • Mastery of key mathematical concepts and building blocks through in-depth study, exploration, and practice
    • Breadth of resources to challenge and support students
    • Richness of the word problems and powerful methods to solve complex problems
    • Use of many strategies and approaches (hands-on manipulatives, pictures, and equations)
    • Robust online tools and resources, leveraging powerful technology
  • What training has our faculty received in order to teach Math in Focus?

    SSSAS has formed an invaluable relationship with the Singapore Math leadership, which has enabled our teachers to fully embrace the curriculum with enthusiasm and confidence. Professional development was instrumental in the successful implementation of Math in Focus. Our teachers received extensive training, which will continue throughout the first three years of introducing the program.
  • When did SSSAS begin using Math in Focus?

    After a year of research, review, and testing, the Lower School adopted Math in Focus for first through fifth grades during the 2015-2016 school year. Kindergarten was added for the 2016-2017 school year.
  • What math program is junior kindergarten using?

    Big Math for Little Kids—an innovative mathematics program designed to develop the wide range of skills and behaviors that are essential to early development. With accessible and playful yet purposeful mathematics content, children will develop a love of math and prepare for elementary school.

SSSAS Hosts International Educators & Local Workshops

As more American schools begin using Math in Focus, SSSAS is becoming a national model for this burgeoning program.

  • Hosted the VAIS Singapore Math workshop as well as two by Math in Focus.
  • Our teachers and students have been featured in global education videos and materials regarding Math in Focus.
  • Locally, we have hosted nearly 50 area educators and math specialists wanting to learn more about our successful program. 

Singapore Math Framework

"The warm-ups and activities are fun and build on the students' skills. Hearing them say, ‘This is so fun!’ is a testament to the program, and I couldn't be any prouder to see the growth my students have made this year!"

~ Jonathan Lamkay, Third Grade Teacher

Math Problem of the Week

    • Can you solve this?
Please select an answer before clicking submit.
  • Which is greater - the height of a tennis ball can or its circumference?
    Image related to the question.
    •  The circumference of a tennis ball can.
      You are Correct
      Your Answer:
      The circumference of a tennis ball can.
      The height of the can is three times the diameter of a tennis ball. But the circumference is a little more, since it’s the diameter times pi (3.14…)
    •  The height of a tennis ball can.
      Your Answer:
      The height of a tennis ball can.
      Correct Answer:
      The circumference of a tennis ball can.
      The height of the can is three times the diameter of a tennis ball. But the circumference is a little more, since it’s the diameter times pi (3.14…)
  • Bob has 10,000 balloons. 626 of them are red and the rest are green. How many green balloons does Bob have?
    Image related to the question.
    •  Bob has 10,626 balloons.
      Your Answer:
      Bob has 10,626 balloons.
      Correct Answer:
      Bob has 9,374 balloons.
      Subtract 626 from 10,000 and the result is 9,374.
    •  Bob has 9,374 balloons.
      You are Correct
      Your Answer:
      Bob has 9,374 balloons.
      Subtract 626 from 10,000 and the result is 9,374.
  • End of Trivia Questions.
"I tell students that they are seeing what's behind the curtain and revealing the ‘why’ behind what they are doing. Students have to show a deeper level of understanding in their work using the Math in Focus methods."

~ Erin Lee, Fourth Grade Teacher

Learning Through Play

An interactive and competitive math game invented by SSSAS Director of Lower School Mathematics Ann Bremner has caught the attention of the award-winning game company Thinkfun. “Math Dice Chase” keeps students actively engaged in quickly identifying the sum, difference, or product of the rolled dice. The added element of excitement is best described as a mathematical hot potato—students get “caught” by the dice, which keeps them involved in the game. The game is beloved by many of our Lower School students! Continue reading.

SSSAS Helps International School

Math in Focus expert Ann Bremner, SSSAS Director of Lower School Mathematics, was invited to The American School in Switzerland (TASIS) in 2017 to help with their school's transition to Math in Focus.

Ms. Bremner spent three full days observing classes, meeting with teachers, and offering advice. Read more!

Teaching Strategies from Dr. Neagoy

Our Lower School faculty works closely with consultant & author Dr. Monica Neagoy. We recommend the teaching strategies in her book, Planting the Seeds of Algebra, 3-5: Explorations for the Upper Elementary Grades.

"Dr. Neagoy artfully combines theory, research, and practice to transform the way elementary teachers think about and teach algebraic concepts. Teachers who read this book will enter the classroom with enhanced knowledge, confidence, passion, and a deep understanding about how teaching algebraic concepts will delight and inspire students while setting them up for future mathematical success." 
~ Bob Weiman, Lower School Director/Assistant Head of School

Math Olympiad

Our fourth and fifth grade students participate in Math Olympiad— a large and popular mathematics competition for students in fourth through eighth grades. The goals of the program are:

  • To stimulate enthusiasm and a love for mathematics
  • To introduce important mathematical concepts
  • To teach major strategies for problem solving
  • To develop mathematical flexibility in solving problems
  • To strengthen mathematical intuition
  • To foster mathematical creativity and ingenuity
  • To provide for the satisfaction, joy, and thrill of meeting challenges

Video: Math Dice Chase

"Math in Focus is a challenging program, which meets the needs of learners at multiple levels. Using visual approaches such as bar-modeling, it promotes multiple strategies to develop flexible thinking."

~ Ann Bremner,
Director of Lower School Math

List of 1 members.

  • Mrs. Ann "Ann" Bremner 

    (703) 405-6032
    University of Notre Dame - BA
    Trinity University - MAT
    George Mason University - M.Ed
St. Stephen's and St. Agnes School is an independent, college-preparatory, coed, day, Episcopal Church School that educates students in junior kindergarten through grade 12. The school consists of three, age-appropriate campuses (Lower, Middle, and Upper School) in Alexandria, Virginia. SSSAS welcomes families of all faiths. We offer challenging academics, a state-of-the-art performing arts center, and championship athletics. SSSAS is regarded as one of the top private schools in the Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C. area.

Lower School

Grades: JK-5
400 Fontaine Street
Alexandria, Virginia 22302

Middle School

Grades: 6-8
4401 West Braddock Road
Alexandria, Virginia 22304

Upper School

Grades: 9-12
1000 St. Stephen's Road
Alexandria, Virginia 22304