COVID-19 Pandemic Inspires the Math Mates Program

Amber Luo, Staff Writer

In mid-March of 2020, all Long Island schools closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving many elementary and middle school students struggling to understand mathematical concepts without the help of a real-time teacher. “After seeing my brother struggle to learn algebra remotely during the quarantine, I realized that elementary school students must really struggle to learn math remotely,” said Samara Silverman, a senior at Ward Melville High School. 

Silvermanquickly realized that this issue was not unique to her brother and that the transition from real-life math class to online lessons must be unthinkably difficult for other young students. She contacted several friends from her math class in Ward Melville, and soon, the Math Mates online tutoring program was born. 

Math Mates, originally consisting of Silverman and a board of 4 members, offers free online tutoring to young students who are struggling in their math classes or simply wish to get ahead in math class. Each week, the tutors contact the students’ parents to set up tutoring times and offer real-time math lessons through a video meet platform. The kids are able to ask questions, practice concepts that they couldn’t grasp in school, and most importantly, appreciate mathematics. 

As of November 2, Math Mates has 15 tutors teaching 23 elementary school students. Two weeks ago, the Math Mates tutors were honored by the Board of Education for their altruism during the difficult summer. 

In addition to helping younger students, many Math Mates tutors learn from their tutoring experience. “[Math Mates] made me a more confident person… I had to learn to effectively communicate with kids, parents, administrators, and my peers.” says Silverman. Nancy Zhong, another Math Mates tutor, says“I’m not just there to help with math; I also have a role in my student’s opinion of math, which is kinda scary.” 

The Math Mates program is continuing during the school year, providing personalized lessons to help young students explore and cherish the world of mathematics beyond their core classes.