Isil Nal

Mrs. Nal is a nationally well known mathematics teacher focused on contest math. As a math coach, Mrs. Nal taught State and National MATHCOUNTS participants, USA(J)MO qualifiers, MOSP attendees, USAJMO winners/honorable mentions. She was the coach of the TX MATHCOUNTS Team that placed 1st at Nationals in three consecutive years, 2018, 2017 and 2016, 3rd in 2011 and 7th in 2015. In 2018 and 2017, 2 of her students ranked were the MATHCOUNTS NATIONALS Champion and Runner-Up. In 2016, all her 4 students made top 12 in the country.

She is currently coaching the Quail Valley GT Academy team who won 2015-2018 Texas State MATHCOUNTS. She is a two time recipient of the MAA’s Edyth May Sliffe Award for Excellence in Teaching and the Raytheon MathMovesU Heroes Award.

Dr. Nal

Dr. Nal has a deep passion for teaching math and its applications. He has special interest in utilizing games and experiments to explain fundamental ideas and concepts in math, economics and finance.

He’s also been helping high school students prepare for math Olympiads over the years. Some of his students went on to become MOSP attendees and USA(J)MO winners. In 2018, 15+ of his students at Momentum Learning qualified for USA(J)MO. Among them, 6 students qualified for MOSP including a USAMO winner and multiple USAJMO Winners/USAJMO Honorable Mentions. In addition, Dr. Nal also teaches at AoPS.

Dr. Nal also creates his own videos with solutions to USAMO and other math problems in his YouTube channel ( The Channel is growing every day with over a hundred videos that can be used as a resource for those starting their journey to Olympiad problem solving.

Gwen Curtice

My name is Gwen Curtice, and I am currently teaching 5th and 6th grade math as well as the Contest Math elective for 6th, 7th, and 8th grade at the Honor Roll School. I have 44 years of teaching experience of which 31 were in elementary, 2 were in private and 11 were in middle school teaching math. My undergraduate degree is from Texas Tech University, and I earned my master’s degree in elementary education from the University of Houston at Clear Lake. It was my pleasure to be the original math teacher and math competition coach at the Gifted and Talented Academy at Quail Valley Middle School in FBISD.

My philosophy is simple: all math is connected. Introducing a logical progression of topics, I use hands-on activities combined with daily practice and problem solving of real world associations to obtain long-term understanding. I emphasize accuracy before speed. All students can learn to love math when they have the correct “tool kit” of strategies.

I have lived in Sugar Land for 33 years with my husband, Kolbe, and our labrador, Saxon. Our daughter, Mallory, is a graduate of Texas Christian University and lives and works in Fort Worth.

Troy Drayton

Troy Drayton is co-author of Stand Up, Speak Out: The Social Action Curriculum for Building 21st Century Skills. He had been a classroom teacher at Quail Valley Middle School in Fort Bend ISD for 14 years, earning distinctions as a Fort Bend ISD Secondary Teacher of the Year Finalist in 2009 and Texas Association of Gifted and Talented (TAGT) Gulf Coast Teacher of the Year in 2012. Now Mr. Drayton teaches English at Ridge Point High School.

In addition to his role in the classroom, he has served as English/Language Arts Department Head, curriculum writer, instructional coach, professional development provider, and interventionist. After presenting for Fort Bend ISD and the TAGT and Texas Council of English Language Arts (TCTELA) state conferences independently for many years, he co-founded the GT Innovators LLC in 2011 and travels over the summer engaging teachers in high quality, interactive professional development in districts across Texas.

Since earning his Master’s Degree from the University of Houston in Educational Administration and Supervision in 2008, he has remained in the classroom because of the challenge and inspiration found through daily interactions with students.

Aigul Turdugulova

Aigul is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Mathematics Department in Rice University. She graduated from Middle East Technical University with a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics.

After graduation she worked in a university as a teaching assistant in the department of Applied Mathematics and Informatics. During those years, Aigul taught courses such as Calculus and Discrete Mathematics.

Aigul enjoys working with younger students to inspire them.

Ming Zhang

Dr. Ming Zhang graduated from University of Science and Technology of China and obtained his Ph.D. from Rice University with background in mathematics and computer science.

He has worked as an assistant professor at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and a financial advisor at Morgan Stanley. With over 20 years of algorithm development and investment experience, Dr. Zhang now enjoys teaching students in mathematics, computer science, physics, chemistry, statistics and investments.

In the fall of 2016, all of Dr. Ming’s USACO Bronze Class students at Momentum Learning were promoted to USACO Silver, Gold, and Platinum with most of the students received perfect scores on the USACO Bronze test. Congratulations!!

Dan Duong

I graduated from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, where I studied Mathematics and Public Health. My teaching experience includes being a mentor at the University YMCA and a Math tutor at the learning center. My responsibities included leading fun activities while integration high school and college readiness resources and practices for 8th graders in after school programs. With other mentors, I served K-6th graders by building relationship engage in physical activity games, literacy, nutrition education, and social emotional health.

As a Math tutor, I helped lower-level students solve challenging homework problems and improve their mathematics skills. I always enjoy helping others learn and grow. When I’m not solving Math problems, I’m usually at a local dental clinic shadowing some dentists, which is a part of my application to dental schools.

Megan Kent

Megan Kent has been teaching math and science in Sugar Land for 15 years. She started with elementary students at Southminster School, Cornerstone Christian Academy, then Quail Valley Middle School and now at The Honor Roll School.

She co-taught the award winning math competition team with Mrs. Curtice and Mrs. Nal in the 2014-2015 school year. Mrs. Kent has a special talent for relating to young people in ways that foster a level of comfort and safety.

Mrs. Kent, her husband, and 3 children have lived in Sugar Land for 25 years.

Jonathan Kumar

I’m a graduate of the University of Houston, with a BS in Biology and a concentration in Psychology. I have five years of tutoring experience in speech and debate, as well as in Sciences and English. Throughout high school and college, I competed nationally in speech and debate events including Lincoln-Douglas debate, Public Forum debate, Extemporaneous speaking, Impromptu speaking and Original Oratory. I was nationally ranked and finished 2nd in the Texas State championships in high school.

Through the last few years I have been coaching and mentoring students in public speaking and the aforementioned specific speech & debate events, helping them find their voice and hone their arguments. I believe that these activities can make a lasting and profound difference in a young person’s life.

In my free time I enjoy spending time with my dog, writing, and running, and am an avid sports fan – go Astros!

Chelsea Lopez

My name is Chelsea Lopez and I graduated from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln in Secondary Education and Natural Science. Once I graduated, I worked as a middle school science teacher in Omaha NE. During the 5 years I taught 7th grade Life Science and 8th grade Physical Science. During the student’s 8th grade year I also taught an honors course.

My last 2 years there I was the robotics coach for 6th-8th graders. I took my students to local competitions finishing off with the state competition at the end of the season. I was also on the Science and Engineering Fair committee where I helped students plan and present their research. Several of my students received recognition scoring within the top 10. Some of them even attended the state science fair.

I recently moved back to Houston to further my education by enrolling at Texas A&M where I will be working towards my masters degree.

Robin Maly

Robin Maly is currently a 6th and 7th grade teacher at Quail Valley Middle School. She has been with the Fort Bend Independent School District for almost 15 years now, and has greatly enjoyed her journey as an educator thus far.

Upon graduation from Dulles High School in 1990, Ms. Maly entered the world of instruction as a Pre-School teacher, and since receiving her Bachelor of Science degrees in Social Science and Education, has gone on to teach English Language Arts, Theater Arts, Social Studies, Interdisciplinary Studies, and Theology with students up to 12th grade.

She attributes much of her success in the classroom to cutting edge professional development trainings, brain based education approaches, and “outside of the box” programs like Abydos. Highly creative, innovative, and inspirational, her classes are sought after by students seeking academic rigor and universal relevance. Ms. Maly challenges students to take ownership of their educations in a way that promotes positivity and productivity, as well as scholastic excellence and integrity.

Joseph Bernhart

Joe Bernhart has been teaching secondary English Language Arts for the past 20 years in Houston and Fort Bend ISD. He is certified in gifted and talented education and English Language Arts (6-12) by the Texas Education Agency.

Currently, he teaches ELA grades 7 and 8 at the Quail Valley Middle School Academy for the Gifted and Talented. He is a published author of Stand Up! Speak Out! The Social Action Curriculum for 21st Century Learners and was featured in the Corporation for Public Broadcasting/Maryland Public Television professional development video series called Making Meaning in Literature. He is also co-owner of GTInnovators, LLC, a company that provides teachers around the state of Texas with professional development specifically in the area of teaching gifted learners.

He earned his master’s degree in teaching from the University of Houston-Downtown in 2005, graduating with honors. He also has over 5 years of experience teaching SAT Reading and Writing and offers a plethora of strategies to help students progress in their reading and writing skills in general.

Nurbek Sakiev

Nurbek has a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science with a minor in Business Administration from North American University (NAU). Starting from his sophomore year, Nurbek has taught the introductory computer science courses such as Python and Java programming at NAU.

A former Physics Olympian, Nurbek coached AP Physics and Competition Math courses at various Houston Public Schools. He enjoys engaging students in the classroom by posing questions and enabling lively discussions.

Bharvi Shah

I am currently Math Department Head and Gifted & Talented teacher at Harmony School of Excellence in Sugar Land. I have 5+ years of experience teaching advanced middle school math, computer programming, and robotics. I enjoy working with young kids and am passionate about bringing the best out of each student. Prior to coming into teaching, I was in the software development field and am a Sun certified Java Programmer.

I hold a Bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Gujarat University, India. I, my husband and two kids have lived in the Sugar Land area for past 15 years.

Pelin Unal

Pelin Unal is a graduate student of Mathematics at University of Houston Main Campus. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from Middle East Technical University, one of the top universities in Turkey.

Mrs. Unal has extensive math coaching experience with advanced middle and high school students. She spent two years in Houston Public Schools primarily teaching honors math courses in 6th through 8th grades in addition to teaching contest math classes. Mrs. Unal also had experiences with SAT practices for high school students.

In her spare time, Mrs. Unal plays a stringed musical instrument called “baglama.” She also has interest in drawing and painting.

Kenan Yesilyurt (Mr. Y)

Kenan Yesilyurt, a Texas certified math teacher currently teaching AP Statistics, AP Calculus in Harmony School of Science Sugar land. He has been teaching with Harmony Public Schools since 2000. Before that he taught in a Russian Gifted Boarding school where he prepared his students for International Math Olympiad. His student ranked 11th place overall on the Russian Olympiad team.

In many occasions Mr. Y was recognized the Teacher of the year in Republic of Bashkortostan in Russia. He has been coaching MATHCOUNTS, TMSCA, UIL Math competitions, AMC 8, AMC 10, AMC12, and AIME competitions since 2000.

Mr. Y is married with 3 boys.

Denrica Broussard

I am a dynamic, state-certified, educator with over thirteen years of experience in the areas of ELA (English, Reading, Writing, Grammar) and ESL (English as a Second Language). Currently, I teach English & ESL in higher education at a college, but I spent most of my teaching career in elementary and secondary education.

Over the course of my thirteen years in education, I’ve worked with all types of students of all ages and I learned one important thing–there is no one-size fits all approach to teaching students. After much experience with all types of students, ( ELL’s, Gifted and Talented, Special Needs, etc.) I’ve figured out effective methods to reach all ALL types of students that have proven effective time and time again. I have tutored students most of my career and my former students and parents come back time and time again to thank me and provide success stories of their students’ accomplishments thanks to the one-on-one specialized instruction and strategies that I provide.

Allow me to help fill the gaps, where others have failed. I not only offer an abundance of knowledge in the areas of ELA & ESL, but I can also help with test taking strategies that will ensure success on standardized and college entrance exams, as well. I offer compassion, knowledge and a passion to see ALL students succeed!

Lavanya Venkatakrishnan

I have a Bachelor in Industrial electronics and Montessori certification (early childhood education) from MTEI (affiliated to AMS). I learned Art under Mr. Chandran focused on watercolor and oil.

I have been teaching art since 2011 working with different mediums such as oil pastel, watercolor, acrylics, glass, fabric, mixed media, etc.