By Amy Daybert Herald Writer
MARYSVILLE — Fifth-grader Tony Oversby took charge of his tutoring session.
He told fourth-grader Manjot Kaler, 9, to sit over at a desk by the classroom window and asked him what he wanted to learn.
Manjot put his blue backpack on a nearby desk, opened it and pulled out a sheet of math problems. The two huddled over the desk and raised their pencils. Tony went about giving tips on the math homework that included adding decimals.
When Manjot accidentally got a problem wrong, Tony pointed it out and offered encouragement.
“It’s OK to make mistakes as long as you catch them,” he said.
About 10 math tutors stay after school at Grove Elementary twice a week to help fourth-grade students, teacher Dwan Kinney said. The tutoring sessions are 40 minutes long and are held in her classroom and fourth-grade teacher Beth Vavrousek’s room.
Kinney said she started the program three years ago when one of her fourth-grade students who was good at math offered to help tutor another student in her class. A group of tutors and students who attended the sessions a year later started calling themselves the Mathletes.
Most of the tutors are fifth-graders who help fourth-graders with their math homework. Several students who received help learning math last year are now tutors.
Trina Davis, 10, decided to become a math tutor because it’s her favorite subject and she was part of the tutoring program last school year. “It’s fun to help people,” Trina said. “When I got help it seemed like (being a tutor) would be fun, and I wanted to get out of the house.”
She remembers struggling with her fourth-grade math homework and praised Gabryelle Carmona, 9, for memorizing her multiplication tables.
At another table, Kate Roberts, one of a few fourth-grade tutors, talked fellow fourth-grader Trevor Collins, 9, through solving multiple-digit multiplication problems one step at a time.
Helping others learn math helps her, too, said Kate, 9.
“It lets me see how to do mine, too, because I can see other kids’ strategies,” she said.
Near the end of each session, students put away their worksheets and begin to play math games on computers or on an interactive board near the front of the classroom.
Classroom volunteer Vikashni Davis watched as her daughter, Trina, played a number plotting game with a younger student. The tutoring program helps students learn and relate to each other, she said.
“This keeps kids out of trouble, and they’re learning more,” Davis said.
Kinney said she think the program is successful because students have fun and ask to be chosen as math tutors.
“Before the year is out, I always invite certain students and ask them if they’re coming back to be a math tutor,” she said. “But quite typically they ask. That’s the data.”
Amy Daybert: 425-339-3491; firstname.lastname@example.org.