High school mentors aid young peers

Buchholz students are working with elementary students on their math skills


Published: Wednesday, June 1, 2011 at 9:38 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, June 1, 2011 at 11:28 p.m.

For Michael Patlovich and his friends, math equations are a breeze. So during the year, in addition to doing their own math homework, the Buchholz High School junior and his friends have been helping Duval Elementary School students find the solutions to theirs.

Working with Duval's Extended Day Enrichment Program, the Buchholz High students have been tutoring Duval students after school for an hour every Monday and Tuesday, as well as any time extra homework help is needed throughout the week.

“Math is what they really need us to teach them,” said Michael, 16. “You use English in everyday life, and I don't think you use math that often. It's a harder concept.”

Michael, a member of the Buchholz math team, said he started the group last February with his best friend, teammate and fellow mentor, Tomek Andraka, who also is 16.

He said the group, which consists of 10 students, calls itself the Math Mentors. Most of the mentors are also on the Buchholz math team, which has won the Mu Alpha Theta national competition four times and the state competition for the past seven years.

Math Mentors members are Michael, Tomek, Liren Xue, Caleb Sommers, Stephen Dolbier, Cindy Xia, Steve Han, Minjia Zhong, Will Messina and Elizabeth Navas.

He said each of the mentors tutors three or four students weekly and receives community service hours for his or her time.

Taylor Pritchett, the coordinator of Duval Elementary's enrichment program, said the one-on-one tutoring has really helped the young students in the program.

“They are very dependable,” she said. “They show up every week to tutor the students.”

Michael's mother, Alice Patlovich, who oversees the Math Mentors, said she has seen her son and his friends not only help Duval students with their homework but also develop friendships with them as well.

“They're just so great together,” Patlovich said. “It gives the elementary school students someone to look up too. A lot of them want to go to Buchholz and join the math team.”

She said her son came up with the idea to become a math mentor when he visited Duval Elementary to deliver backpacks as part of an annual backpack drive.

Michael said one of the reasons he mentors is to fulfill his community service hours requirement. So far, he has racked up about 200 hours, most of which are from tutoring. But he also said he enjoys helping out the community he grew up in.

“When the students come home with a good grade, they show it off and are really proud of themselves,” he said. “It makes me and the group feel proud that we are doing good.”

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