Abacus West offers 2 innovative math enrichment programs: (i) the core Abacus Math program is for children aged 5 to 12, and (ii) AW Discover Math is for children aged 3 and 4.

The core Abacus West program teaches children the fundamentals of mathematics while improving their focus and concentration skills. We introduce students to tactile learning while they manipulate the beads of a Japanese abacus (Soroban) with their hands to perform math calculations (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division). Students are taught how to visualize a “mental abacus”, enabling them to perform math calculations in their minds (Anzan) without the assistance of a physical abacus. Students benefit from enhanced visualization skills, increased focus & concentration, a higher level of self-confidence, and reinforcement of core math abilities. Abacus math programs also increase the child’s brain development. (Click here for academic research.) Similar abacus programs are very popular in many parts of Asia, notably Japan, China, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore and India. Over the past several years, abacus programs have also been introduced into the Western World, with a growing number of students across Europe and North America.

AW Discover Math is a math enrichment program designed for young learners to build a solid math foundation in a fun and interactive environment. AW Discover Math incorporates songs and rhymes, hands-on tactile learning, and movement activities to teach 3 and 4 year-olds a variety of experiences to develop their number sense, algebraic thinking, geometric sense, graphing & data organizing, measurement, and fine motor skills. Our curriculum has been designed based on the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics power standards. AW Discover Math is a parent-and-child program so each student is accompanied by a parent or guardian in the classroom.

Abacus West is based in Sammamish, Washington, a suburb of Seattle. We have 3 classrooms in the Seattle area: (i) Good Shepherd Center in Wallingford, (ii) Old Redmond Schoolhouse, (iii) The Plateau Club in Sammamish.



math programs



Our People

Vinaya Kulkarni is the Founder & Head Teacher of Abacus West.

Ms. Kulkarni first became aware of abacus math programs through her father who had observed the significant positive impact on young children in his community who had received abacus math training. After conducting more research on abacus math, Ms. Kulkarni was convinced that this program would be highly beneficial to her own young children. Since there were no suitable abacus math programs available in her area, Ms. Kulkarni learned abacus math through independent study combined with mentorship from experts in the field. She researched materials and teaching practices from around the world and built this program.

Ms. Kulkarni is a former strategic management consultant. She has an MBA from McMaster University, and a Bachelor of Science from The University of Western Ontario. Ms. Kulkarni is an active volunteer with the Lake Washington School District, and is VP of Enhancements for GEAC (the PTSA equivalent for Quest, the program for highly capable students.) Ms. Kulkarni loves teaching abacus math, and finds it rewarding to see her students’ confidence and results improve. She lives in Sammamish, Washington with her husband and 2 children.

Ms. Kulkarni teaches at the Redmond and Sammamish location. She can be contacted by emailing vinaya@abacuswest.com

Anjali Babel is a Teacher with Abacus West.

Ms. Babel has a Ph.D. in Psychology from Mohanlal Sukhadia University in Udaipur, India. In addition to her experience as a clinical psychologist, she has also taught extensively in a variety of capacities with students ranging from Elementary to Post-Graduate levels. She has a strong passion for education. Ms. Babel’s children are in the Lake Washington School District, and she is a frequent volunteer in their school. She lives in Sammamish, Washington with her husband and two sons.

Ms. Babel teaches at the Redmond and Sammamish locations.

Jodi Gaertner is a Teacher with Abacus West.

Ms. Gaertner has been active in education as a teacher, parent, and advocate. While teaching second and third grades, Ms. Gaertner organized a family math night and held workshops for her students’ parents to help them support their students’ learning at home. She took a break from teaching to spend more time with her family, but returned to school for a Master degree and certification in special education. She resides with her husband and three sons in Kirkland. Ms. Gaertner is an active volunteer for her older sons’ school as well as on the board of the LWSD Gifted Education Advisory Council and Woodinville Family Preschool.

Ms. Gaertner teaches at the Redmond location.

Shilpa Jeyathilak is a Teacher with Abacus West.

Ms. Jeyathilak has a Bachelors Degree in Commerce from the University of Nagpur in India, and a Professional Graduate Certificate in Education from the University of Sunderland in the UK. In additional to her international teaching experience in Dubai and Singapore as an Early Childhood Education Teacher, she has also volunteered extensively in a variety of capacities within the schools. She has a strong passion for abacus math. Ms. Jeyathilak’s son was an international champion in abacus math at an early age, and has benefited significantly from his abacus math training. Ms. Jeyathilak lives in Sammamish, Washington with her husband and two sons.

Ms. Jeyathilak teaches at the Redmond and Sammamish locations.

Jan Charleson is a Teacher with Abacus West.

Jan Charleson is a former financial industry consultant and Certified Management Accountant.  She has been teaching Abacus math for over 3 years and is passionate about children, teaching, and the learning process.  Ms. Charleson enjoys working with the parents and families of Abacus West and is part of the registration and recruitment teams.  In addition to students, Jan trains new teachers in the art of abacus math and prepares existing teachers to step into higher levels.  “I love working with the Abacus West staff.  Each teacher is smart, dedicated, and exceptional in the classroom.”

Her previous teaching experience includes volunteering with math in the Lake Washington School District, teaching art part-time at Snoqualmie Elementary through Museo Art Academy, developing an art docent program for a local elementary school, and teaching elementary school art as a volunteer.  She is currently a Committee Chairperson with the PTSA at Eastlake High School.

Ms. Charleson has a B.S. in Finance and Economics from the University of Montana and holds her professional accounting certification through the Institute of Management Accountants.  Ms. Charleson lives in Sammamish, Washington with her husband and 2 children.

Ms. Charleson teaches at the Sammamish location.

Kajal Shukla is a Teacher with Abacus West

Ms. Shukla has a M.S. degree in Biomedical Engineering from University of Texas, Southwestern Medical center.  In addition to her extensive research expertise as a scientist at University of Washington and teaching several undergraduate classes , Ms. Shukla loves to teach Math in interactive and practical new ways.   After having her third son, Ms. Shukla took a break from research to spend quality time with her family.   Her sons have been in the Abacus West program since 2012 and Abacus math quickly became her favorite method of introducing math to children.  She resides with her husband and three sons in Issaquah, Washington and enjoys riding bike, hiking and music.

Ripal Shah is a Teacher with Abacus West

Ripal Shah is a Teacher with Abacus West

Ms. Shah has a Masters Degree in Molecular Biology and Genetics from Florida Atlantic University (FAU). She has worked as a Research Scientist for many years, taught undergraduate classes and is very passionate about education. She believes that learning is a process, and students and parents play a pivotal role in success. She volunteers significantly in her daughters’ school and coaches Math club for 4th and 5th grades. In her spare time, Ms. Shah enjoys painting, cooking, travelling and designing jewelry.

Ms. Shah teaches at the Redmond location

Vasundhara Vutukuri

Vasundhara Vutukuri is a Teacher with Abacus West.

Ms. Vutukuri has a Master’s degree in Finance from Loyola College, India. She is extremely creative and has worked with Getty Images, as a Team Leader.

Ms Vasundhara believes each child has a unique learning style and it is the responsibility of the educator to discover the best teaching approach for each child. She is passionate about early childhood education and originally joined Abacus West as a parent. Her eldest son is now in Level 4 and she is pleased to join our teaching staff. She loves to paint and draw in her free time as well as biking and hiking as she discovers the local trails. She lives in Redmond with her 2 sons and husband.

Ms. Vutukuri teaches at the Redmond location.

Lauren Houghtaling is a Teacher with Abacus West

Ms. Houghtaling has a Bachelor’s degree in Linguistics from the University of Washington, where she also studied psychology and interned at the Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences. She is passionate about cognitive science and about helping young people, and the combination of the two is what draws her to Abacus West. She has worked as a cognitive skills trainer at LearningRx in Issaquah, helping students strengthen their learning ability through drills and games. She loves introducing kids to new ways of thinking about their school subjects. Ms. Houghtaling lives in Seattle with her husband.

Ms. Houghtaling teaches in Redmond and Seattle.

Michelle Pearson is a Teacher with Abacus West.

Ms. Pearson has a Bachelor’s Degree in English from Syracuse University and a Certificate in Editing from the University of Washington. She is a fan of math games such as Sudoku, and she was first introduced to the Soroban after hearing that her friend’s mother used this kind of abacus to balance her checkbook. Ms. Pearson also has a passion for ancient tools and methods that are still useful today. She is the mother of two young boys attending Seattle Public Schools where she volunteers in the classroom and teaches string games to elementary-aged children. She lives with her family in Seattle and enjoys getting out in the mountains for skiing, riding bikes, and swimming.

Ms. Pearson teaches at the Seattle location.

Amber Hargraves is a Teacher with Abacus West.

Ms. Hargraves is an Elementary school teacher. She graduated with honors from Washington State University with a degree in Elementary Education, and received her teaching certificate for grades K-8. Ms. Hargraves has a keen interest in mathematics. She has experience with teaching math in Elementary school classrooms, and has taken several college level courses on how to effectively teach math to Elementary students. Ms. Hargraves is currently a substitute teacher in the Lake Washington School District, and works at a local preschool twice a week. She is passionate about children, teaching and excited to be working at Abacus West. Ms. Hargraves lives in Issaquah, Washington with her best friend and Boston Terrier!

Ms. Hargraves teaches at the Sammamish location.