By Shannon Zhao
SANTA ANA - Despite the winter holiday break, Lathrop Intermediate School classrooms bristled lively with students and volunteer teachers alike, Saturday, December 17th. This, however, was not the doings of the Santa Ana Unified School District but the renewal of the Santa Ana Math Club’s weekend classes.
Once a month, volunteers from Santa Ana Math Club (SAMC) offer their mornings to teaching local Santa Ana students of grades 4 through 8. A total of eight classrooms are dedicated to SAMC’s weekend classes, each led by a volunteer “Lead Teacher” accompanied by up to three “Assistant Teachers”.
“The goal of these classes is to enrich the learning of the students, reinforce what they are already learning in their classes, and also instill in them a love for math,” said SAMC Director Steven Tong. “But, more than that, it’s just like a sense of community where we can interact with the students and be [mentors] to the students.”
With an arsenal of powerpoint presentations, Jeopardy games, practice packets, and Expo markers, the volunteer teacher groups cover a wide variety of mathematical topics. For this meeting, the classes covered algebraic expressions, working with variables, and number sequences, with varying levels of depth per grade level.
In addition to the general grade level classes, SAMC also offers a College Prep class, which focuses on standardized test preparation. Students are taught through both lecture and diagnostics tests, answers and techniques explained in said lectures.
“Taking these practice tests on your own is a lot harder than having someone who can explain the answers to you, [who] explain techniques that help you finish the multiple choice sections quickly and effectively. That is what we are aiming for in [...] our classes,” said volunteer College Prep teacher Austin Sun.
From around 10AM to 11AM, the students are given a snack break, followed by a class trip to the bathroom. Managed by OC Health, the snack break provides students and volunteers with complimentary fruit snacks, granola bars, and water before the students resume their lesson schedule.
As a holiday treat, SAMC prepared a gift for every student. Before class was dismissed, non-teaching volunteers went classroom-to-classroom, handing out festive bags of flavored popcorn—kettle and cheddar—from their green wagons.
Another round of wagons brought students personalized gifts, individually wrapped and labelled with the name of its respective student.
With eager expressions and gifts in hand, the students rushed out of their classrooms at the announcement of class dismissal, making their way to waiting parents in the parking lot.
“It’s just very heartwarming to see how many people are interested in devoting a Saturday morning to math,” explained SAMC Supervisor Nita Walker. “[Our] goal is to have math be fun and interesting for them [the students]. I believe math is so important for everyone, and I want the whole world to feel that math is valued.”