Mississauga Life — Early Spring 2015
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Strong Leadership, Strong Minds
Steve Jobs

“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.”

It’s been said that successful and intelligent entrepreneurs never set out to reinvent the wheel. Rather, they craft a way to put a unique and innovative set of rims on it and continue its forward motion.

Kim Langen, CEO and co-founder of Spirit of Math Schools is a leader. The daughter of two educators, Langen worked in private and public schools before establishing Spirit of Math, an afterschool “school,” built on the pioneering work of her father, Charles Ledger, winner of the Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching.

Langen’s humble beginnings saw her guide and educate 35 students from her basement in the early 1990s—that figure nearly tripled at the end of that first year. Through Langen’s dedication, vision and leadership, Spirit of Math has expanded to over 5,000 students in more than 30 campuses.

Langen believes in using mathematics as a way to teach students how to learn, face challenges and work with others, as opposed to being a transactional type of business like some of its competitors. Her precise leadership is working: through strategic marketing decisions, a plethora of referrals and international acclaim, she’s led the company to a revenue growth of 154 percent over the past five years, and her students have amassed a consistently healthy trophy collection in national and international mathematics competitions. They are constantly striving to add to an already impressive resumé.

Langen’s strategic plan for sustainable growth, coupled with maintaining Spirit of Math’s integrity and teaching methods, make every forward step intentional and well thought out. “We are committed that growth should never endanger program and teaching quality,” she says. “Our vision is to be the global standard in mathematics education and we want to say it loud and clear.”

It seems others agree, from educational psychologists who recommend the program to challenge gifted children, to a school division that is now training its teachers in Spirit of Math methods. “I’ve travelled the world and talked to people in charge of different science and math programs,” she says, “and they are all impressed with what we’re doing and how much sense it makes.”

Langen’s efforts are being noticed in a big way. She was a finalist for Ernst & Young Canada’s EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2014—being highlighted on such a broad platform comes with its own set of bragging rights. In fact, Spirit of Math is one of Canada’s fastest-growing companies, and under Langen’s careful eye it continues to target new locations in Canada and the United States. The company opened new campuses in Texas and Alabama in January 2015.

Being passionate about releasing the genius in everyone, one student at a time, has kept Langen’s proverbial foot on the accelerator since day one. Her determination to have students exceed their own expectations is paramount for her and her entire team and, based on tangible results, her vision is being followed to a T. With a proven track record over the past three decades, the future looks even brighter.