Oakland REACH parent ‘liberators’ continue to make an impact with math tutoring

The Oakland REACH, in partnership with the Oakland Unified School District, has initiated a math tutoring program. This program, which mirrors a successful reading-focused initiative, has demonstrated promising early outcomes.

The Oakland REACH
MathBOOST, introduced last autumn with six trained tutors who are parents or caregivers, serves four elementary campuses out of the district’s 50. Lakisha Young, CEO of Oakland REACH, disclosed plans to expand the program to encompass over 20 tutors aiding students in 11 schools next year.

The tutors, known as Math Liberators, collaborate with teachers inside classrooms and conduct small group instruction sessions. According to Alicia Arenas, the district’s elementary instruction director, the program aims to prepare students to be proficient in algebra by the time they enter middle and high school.

Further, Arenas highlighted that children not involved in the program often express interest in joining. Tutors, who receive hourly wages and full benefits, primarily assist third- to fifth-grade students, with some dedicated to younger children. Arenas emphasized the tutors’ strong ties and meticulous selection rooted in the community.

Janine Godfrey, a 55-year-old math tutor, contributes at Garfield Elementary School. Reflecting on her experience, Godfrey underlined the gratification derived from helping students comprehend math concepts and engage with the subject during lessons. Her decision to join the program stemmed from a personal enjoyment of math and teaching, prompting her to give back to the community.

“I hope that our collaborative efforts inspire the students to excel in math and potentially find enjoyment in the subject,” said Godfrey, alluding to the meaningful connections formed with the students.

As part of the tutoring initiative, Oakland REACH organized “Math Mindset” sessions at Think College Now Elementary School to address parents’ math-related anxieties and leverage cultural achievements in mathematics. Young emphasized the importance of engaging families and recruiting math tutors from diverse backgrounds.

The endeavor encounters challenges in combating the prevailing notion of math inadequacy within the community, hindering parental involvement in their children’s math education. Young accentuated the pivotal role of building confidence and fostering a positive perception of mathematics within marginalized communities.

Expansion plans for the math-related efforts include SummerBOOST, an upcoming collaboration with the district during the summer, catering to approximately 350 kindergarten to fourth-grade students. Addressing nationwide educational disparities exacerbated by the pandemic, the initiative underscores the significance of this shift in mindset to enhance student outcomes.

Source: The 74.

Ensuring that students receive a high-quality education has been the fundamental objective of the Oakland REACH since its establishment by Young eight years ago. Following the success of a literacy-focused Virtual Family Hub during the pandemic, the organization has turned its attention to math intervention. The positive outcomes observed in literacy gains have led to a demand for math support among families, prompting the development of a comprehensive math program targeting early-grade students, an approach Young described as a “full frontal attack” on educational deficits.

Oakland REACH’s proactive engagement with families aligns with its mission to empower Black and brown families in advocating for their children’s education. The organization’s transition from literacy to math intervention underscores its dedication to enhancing student outcomes and fostering a positive academic experience.

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