With hundreds of children falling behind in the classroom — particularly when it comes to math — schools in the area have trouble providing the necessary resources to help. The nonprofit JustMATH focuses primarily on teaching the fundamentals of math to students who are in fourth and fifth grade, sending volunteers to campuses to tutor students.
Such mentoring has already shown promising results. The coalition of JustREAD and JustMATH reached 104 students in 2,167 sessions over the course of the 2017-18 school year. Volunteers went to Theuerkauf Elementary to help students work through math problems that they found difficult, and all students were able to increase their math skills by at least one grade level.
"All they need is a little help," Epstein said.
The program works with teachers and administrators to better prepare students for the upcoming school year, allowing tutors to teach lessons that coincide with the original class syllabus. Epstein said that this type of mentoring has a positive social effect on students. Before the program, the "only reason they would raise their hand would be to go to the bathroom," said Epstein. Now kids feel more confident to participate in class discussions and group activities.
With the program piloting in Mountain View, Epstein said he hopes to expand to other Bay Area schools, starting with Castro and Monta Loma elementary schools in the 2018-19 school year. Epstein noted that while it is his goal to help people of all ages, the earlier volunteers intervene in a student's academic career, the better chance they have at success. He said he aspires to increase the number of sessions and students tutored by 50 percent, as well as increase the number of volunteers from 70 to 170. Epstein says that his goal is simple: Serve more kids.
Those who are interested in getting involved with JustMATH can sign up for one of several tutor orientations that are being held in late August and early September. After being introduced to the organization, those who would like to volunteer can then attend training and shadowing sessions.
"These kids are our future. It is really important that our future is bright," Epstein said.
More information can be found at justreadcenters.org.
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