VINTON–William Byrd High School has a new club this year, the Math Pound–the brainchild of senior Brie Belz. She has a cousin who has always struggled with math, but traditional tutoring did not remedy the situation. It occurred to Belz that peer tutoring might be more effective than tutoring by teachers or other adults. Fellow students might have a better perspective on what might be hindering the learning process—whether just the material itself or stress from too many other demands on a student’s time.
She also thought that students might be more willing to open up to their peers, especially those who are sometimes too reserved to speak up in class or even bring up questions with teachers outside of class.
Belz took her suggestion to WBHS math teacher Victor Maciel who was willing to help set up the program, encouraged to see “students who wanted to help other students.”
In its first year, the club currently has 82 tutors working with over 100 students providing extra help in math. Keeping up with and scheduling so many students and study sessions is challenging.
“I’m very proud of Mr. Maciel’s willingness to organize this activity and I’m very proud of our students’ willingness to serve others,” said Principal Dr. Richard Turner. “This is a very kind act to help others and is an example of how our students and staff demonstrate their caring.”
Belz hopes the Math Pound becomes a tradition at WBHS and even spreads to other schools. She plans to study math in college on her way to a career in the medical field.
Student tutors assist their tutees in one-to-one sessions generally during extra help periods or before or after school. They usually meet once every two weeks for about 30 minutes. While the struggling students get extra help, the tutors can earn extra credit and community service hours for inservice learning classes.
According to Maciel, there is also the intrinsic value of seeing other students achieve and the feeling of service through assisting them.
“William Byrd High School is sponsoring a new club for students who excel at mathematics and have a passion for helping others,” said Maciel in recruiting tutors for the program. “Not only will this be a great opportunity helping others, but a great chance to remediate material for the SAT.”
Most of the tutors currently come from Maciel’s math classes or are students he has taught previously; some are Governor’s School students. His criteria are that they be proficient in math, usually in pre-calculus and calculus.
Those being tutored come from all math classes by teacher recommendation or parent request. Most of them are struggling with Algebra I or II or geometry—a few with pre-calculus or calculus concepts.
Macial teaches Dual Enrollment pre-calculus and AP calculus classes. He graduated from William Byrd in 2004 and has been teaching for 7 years—one at Glenvar and the remainder at WBHS. He coached football for a time, but with increasing responsibilities at Life Tabernacle Church in Vinton, it was necessary for him to focus on his duties in the ministry.
The belief of the Math Pound is “help others achieve their dreams and you will achieve yours.”
Maciel said that parents who would like for their child to be tutored should contact the student’s math teacher at WBHS who will make the recommendation for tutoring. Information is available by calling 890-3090.