Forest Hills Math Team Preparing for State Competition is 'Making it Count'

A Forest Hills math team is preparing for a prestigious competition and in the process building a strong bond. NY1's Clodagh McGowan filed the following report.

When it comes to problem solving, students on the math team at Russell Sage Junior High School always figure it out together. For some mathematicians, like Daniela Matei, it comes naturally.

"I was like born a math person pretty much. It's like my passion. It's the one subject that I feel like I can do because it's so set in stone," said Matei, an eighth-grader at JHS 190.

And now, she's set in gold. Matei came in first at the local Queens Mathcounts Competition Series. The team came in second place, by a fraction of point. But it all adds up and now they're preparing to head to Albany for the state contest next month.

"It’s not often that you are second in anything in all of Queens and you get to compete for it in New York State," said Benjamin Gallai, also an eighth grader at JHS 190.

The students are also getting a little help from Robin Han. He's a Russell Sage graduate, now a sophomore at Stuyvesant High School. He says being part of the math team helped him so much, he's happy to pay it forward.

"It's really a team effort. And when I think about it, like it's just one big family. And I'm just giving back," said Han.

The head of that family is math teacher Will Collins. He might not look familiar but you may remember his emotional, radio call-in rant about the New York Mets going viral, dubbing him, "Will from Queens." His passion for teaching is on par with his love for the Amazin's

"It's my life, so that's it," said Collins, with tears in his eyes.

Collins works with Robin and his father Jacky Han to organize after-school tutoring sessions, which he says makes math fun.

"There would be no joy if it wasn't for that. My goal is the math is the vehicle but I always wanted to be able to provide something like that for a New York City public school," said Collins.

So if you take the students, add a thoughtful teacher, multiplied by some caring volunteers, well you don't need a calculator to figure out that's a formula for success.​

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