Illustration by Karen Greenberg
On Saturday mornings, when many of their classmates are
still wiping the sleep from their eyes, about two dozen UCLA students
caravan from the Ackerman Turnaround to the Mar Vista Gardens Community
Center. Here, residents of a public-housing project, clutching sharpened
pencils and math quandaries of one sort or another, await them.
These energetic Bruins are volunteer math tutors for Project Numeracy.
Started two years ago by math major Dulce Alvarez ’04, Project
Numeracy brings together UCLA students with people who need help
with math — anything from homework to figuring out who pays
how much on the phone bill.
Math can be frustrating for those to whom it doesn’t come
easily. But the tutors – many of them aspiring teachers —
are patient guides to the perplexing world of long division, partial
fractions and quadratic equations.
“People will come in saying, ‘I hate math,’
but they’ll find out that it’s really fun,” says
Alvarez, who teaches geometry at Mary Star of the Sea High School
in San Pedro.
The Project Numeracy tutors also work on Friday afternoons but
the program is so popular among Mar Vista Gardens residents that
the Bruins are thinking of adding a third session.
by Anne Burke