Mitchell L. Adler has always stood out for his skills in mathematics. Winning his first awards in his elementary school years, he was selected in sixth grade to participate in the newly developed "Columbia Program." Then known as "MATH X," the program was designed for junior high school students determined capable of moving rapidly through the standard high school curriculum.
After high school, Adler graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with a degree in Economics and Art History. Shortly thereafter, he completed law school, was admitted to the New York Bar Association, and won the Louis B. Ortner Entertainment Law Award for his skills in negotiating. However, he quickly decided a career in law would not be fulfilling. Mitch claims, "By committing myself to the practice of law, I knew for sure my life would amount to one that was meaningless." Changing paths, Adler landed a position as a Contributing Editor to the National Lampoon Magazine, where he wrote pieces satirizing, among other things, politics and litigation. But Adler never forgot his true calling – math and education – and soon returned his focus.
"I guess I was in search of a journey worthy of inclusion in the Siddhartha Club. I climbed a mountain – or I would have, anyway, had I not missed the exit on the interstate. You know, in life it's not the height of the mountain so much as the hassle one encounters along the road to get to that mountain that is the true challenge."
Adler found himself settling down in New York's decidedly un-Siddharthan community of the Hamptons, where he realized his passion for developing new methods of teaching and learning mathematics. He soon became the Director of Mathematics at The Hampton Day School, the oldest and largest accredited independent school of Eastern Long Island. There he revised, restructured, and rewrote the school's entire K-12 mathematics program. Together with his fourteen-member department, Adler became known for introducing young children to higher levels of mathematics than was previously considered possible, inventing and developing hands-on manipulatives, games using explosives and mousetrap-powered cars, and a compilation of the best written materials from around the world (much of which he penned himself) to aid in his teaching.
In his spare time, Adler developed his long-held interest in standardized test preparation, and he founded an SAT prep business, which became the Hamptons' most successful. He also won first prize in a world-wide science fiction short story competition for his tale "The Giant Onion," and he has published stories and pieces in local and national magazines and newspapers.
Along the way, Adler completed Harvard University's "Project Zero" program for teachers. He made a brief reappearance in the world of law to combine his knowledge of environmental legislation with his expertise in mathematics to protect his community. When developers were granted permission to install miniature golf courses that would pollute the night sky with enough light to alter the ecosystem of a previously preserved seaside environment, Adler used simple mathematics to prove to the community that they had been duped. In a 33-page brief he refuted the "experts," exposing their misuse of numbers which could have wreaked havoc on the immediate area. In recognition, the town board's decision included a public thank you, citing his way of making mathematics clear and helpful to each and every attendee in the packed courthouse.
These days Mitch spends most of his time avoiding the urge to comment on the mystery surrounding his long-awaited thousand-page book and the reasons for his having withdrawn it from publication during an editorial dispute. Still, rumors hold it as a reputed masterpiece that weaves a tapestry through the tunnels of the theory of relativity while maintaining a love story set in the evening of a family's life. Mitch also seeks to share a career of experience with his latest endeavor – Adler-n-Subtract.com, which provides free access to new and previously unpublished correspondence with educators and parents while also serving as a marketplace for proven educational products developed by Mitch and some of his closest associates.
"I've developed a new way to communicate nearly every tough concept in K-12 math education. I've learned that everyone hits roadblocks at some point." Math is just a language for bringing you to the foot of real-world problems. With a little help, most people find they've understood a concept all along. Adler-n-Subtract.com is a constantly-updated and expanding collection of detours around the most common intellectual impasses. Educators, parents, and students will want to keep coming back: they might just find the road to the top of their mountain.