Community key to math tutoring program

KAPA‘A — Community members are vital to the success of Kapa‘a Middle School’s new math tutoring program proposed by Nathan Aiwohi, the school’s principal.

“In this tight economic times, we’re not asking for financial help,” Aiwohi said. “Instead, we want something more valuable — an individual’s experience and perspective.”

A survey for interested people is available at the school, and community members are asked to complete and return the survey by this week.

The Kaua‘i Chamber of Commerce is distributing via email the survey and additional copies of the school’s proposed program through a cover letter.

“Math is around us all the time,” Aiwohi said in the cover letter. “We are sure you know in today’s high-tech society, everyone needs a strong foundation in math to be successful.”

Aiwohi said one of the goals at Kapa‘a Middle School is for students to develop a healthy interest in math, gain an appreciation of why math is useful and develop a more positive attitude about studying math in school.

Kapa‘a Middle School serves as a collecting point for at least four elementary schools and in working to address the physical, emotional, intellectual and social needs of young adolescents, Aiwohi said.

Despite the efforts of the classroom teachers, students still lag behind in math.

Kapa‘a Middle School has made major improvements in student morale, reading and math in the Hawai‘i State Assessment scores, but there is still room for growth.

Aiwohi said in many cases, students cannot connect to a concept or skill because they cannot see how useful math is.

The idea for the tutoring program came about through discussions with Mary Lu Kelley of Oceanit National Research and Engineering, Kapa‘a Middle School’s partner through the Principal’s Leadership Academy.

This is where the experience and perspective of the community comes in because Aiwohi said he learned some math concepts while watching a builder square a building.

“There is no substitute for the real world experience,” he said. “Sometimes, that is the spark that makes the student learn an elusive math concept.”

By becoming a tutor for the Kapa‘a Middle School program, community professionals would assist in expanding math interventions by sharing one’s passion for math.

The proposed program will have different levels of involvement for volunteers ranging from one hour a week to a couple of hours a day, working with individual students, groups, or conferencing with math teachers.

These levels will be determined by completing the survey.

For more information, contact Roberta Zarbaugh, the Kapa‘a Middle School Student Services Coordinator, or Aiwohi at 821-4470.

• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or


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