For the last several years (2007 onward), the UBC Mathematics Department has sponsored undergraduate mentors to help Aboriginal students at both the elementary and secondary level. Initially afterschool mentors were concentrated at Britannia Secondary, and the program has expanded to a number of other schools. We have been able to recruit talented and dedicated UBC students as mentors from both our Dual Education/Math degree program and others with strong math backgrounds.
We are eager to expand these mentoring opportunities to Britannia's other five partner elementary schools (Britannia, Grandview, Nelson, Strathcona, and Seymour Elementary Schools) as well as other elementary schools to further improve the math skills of students and support their future success. The after school mentoring activities complement the Math Summer Camps for Aboriginal students held at UBC and elsewhere in the Vancouver area. Together these summer camps and mentoring activities provide year round opportunities for students to strengthen their mathematical training through working with caring and masterful teachers/mentors.
Thanks to the efforts of Melania Alvarez and George Bluman, in 2010-11 UBC Math sponsored 21 students working in seven afterschool and summer programs. Our efforts have been concentrated in schools with larger Aboriginal and First Nations student populations. They have covered programs at the Native Education college, Britannia Secondary, Britannia alternative program, Templeton Secondary, MacDonald Elementary, Windermere Secondary, and finally Point Grey Secondary, where the afterschool program is a joint UBC Math-Musqueam-UBC Longhouse effort.
In 2009-10, five UBC math undergraduates volunteered on a weekly basis at Britannia to mentor PIMS sponsored Aboriginal students in Grades 9-12 as well as assist two Grade 8 teachers. Also in 2009-10, the UBC Mathematics Department, in partnership with the Vancouver School Board, UBC Bridge Through Sport, PIMS and the Musqueam Band, sponsored four undergraduate students as mentors of Aboriginal students at Point Grey Secondary on a weekly basis. The after school tutorials expanded in 2009-10 to involve five additional undergraduate mentors sponsored at Templeton Secondary and MacDonald Elementary, a Britannia partner elementary school, with further support provided by UBC Math for after school workshops at Windemere.
We are very grateful to many UBC student mentors for their valuable work at various schools. In 2009-10, Julie Harris, Aleksandre Hrycaiko, Bowen Tang, Arman Tavakoli and Surina Wang were after school volunteers at Britannia Secondary; Jason Chu, Hee-Soo Chun, Julie Harris, Flora Hung, Jessica Johnson, Vaden Masrani, Sahar Moafi, Mary Shen, Lai Wah Robert Yeung, Andy Zhwere were active through work study in after school tutorials at other schools. The student mentors in 2010-11 were Alexandra Bella, Euweng Chan, Cathleen Childs, Hannah Dahlquist-Axe, Rebecca Ferguson, Steven Luscher, Caitlin Leahy, Tae Yoon Lee, Matthew Liu, Raluca Mic, Sina Motalebi, Yolanda Zhang, Philip Edgcumbe, Vinita Banthia, Nick Dyakowski, Hailey Gi, Abenezer Teklemariam, Kendra Wong, Angus Cherry, Esther Park and Hans Yang.
"I really didn't know what to expect going into the program. I found this experience to be extremely rewarding. I mainly helped 3 girls, 2 in grade 9 and one in grade 10. The students I tutored were awesome. They were smart, worked hard and I had fun tutoring them because I knew that they wanted to improve their math skills and they wanted to be there. What I noticed was after they had gotten comfortable enough to talk to me as a friend they also started asking more questions and challenging the way I answered the question. I found that giving them a lot of examples and showing them different ways of solving one question helped them better understand the problem and the solution. All in all, I had a blast tutoring these students. They listened and learned very well, they were on task and I had fun listening to their stories about school and whatnot. I would definitely sign up for this program again."