Minnesota Reading & Math Corps Blog

Willie Day

Math Tutor – Minneapolis

I get to apply skills I learned in college to teach math to school students. And I find it rewarding that I can make a difference in their success. I like being part of their becoming more confident as they improve upon their math skills.

Willie Day, Math Tutor

Willie Day, Math Corps tutor, Sojourner Truth Academy

When asked what he wanted to be when he grew up, Willie Day would have said “teacher.” When Willie heard about the great work being done at Minnesota Math Corps, he knew he had found the perfect opportunity to put those teaching skills to the test. For him, one of the best parts of being a tutor is being able to offer that small group instruction and individualized attention to the students who need it.

And what a difference it makes! One of Willie’s fondest memories as a tutor was when one student who had at first spoke negatively about herself and thought she couldn’t succeed finally surprised him one day by confidently declaring “I’m smart!” It’s that change in attitude as students improve upon their math skills that’s been the most rewarding aspect of his experience with Math Corps.

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Willie Day

I get to apply skills I learned in college to teach math to school students. And I find it rewarding that I can make a difference in their success. I like being part of their becoming more confident as they improve upon their math skills.

Kim Le

Math Corps made me think how I could explain things differently if kids didn’t understand right away.

administratorWillie Day
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Steve Pinex

Math Tutor – Woodbury

Satisfy your curiosity. Jump in there and do a year of service. Find out that, hey, in helping others, you’ve helped yourself a whole lot more than you could ever have believed.

Steve Pinex, Math Tutor

Steve Pinex, Math Corps Tutor, Middleton Elementary

Steve Pinex heard about Math Corps through his kids’ school. With both his children in school, he felt drawn to being a part of something bigger than himself. He’d previously tutored math at the college level and came to enjoy working with younger kids, because, as he said, “I’m a big kid myself.” He worked hard to make Math Corps sessions fun and empower his students. It shows in the number of kids who asked to skip recess so they could do math with “Mr. P”!

When Steve thinks about his impact, he recalls his 6th grade teacher who made sure Steve could attend field trips and provided him with extra support. As a tutor, Steve can pay it forward and hopes he can help even just one student have an experience that helps them take off.

When not tutoring, Steve got involved in school activities as a DJ, and, after Math Corps, has continued his career as an event DJ.

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Willie Day

I get to apply skills I learned in college to teach math to school students. And I find it rewarding that I can make a difference in their success. I like being part of their becoming more confident as they improve upon their math skills.

Kim Le

Math Corps made me think how I could explain things differently if kids didn’t understand right away.

administratorSteve Pinex
read more

Len Olson

Math Tutor – Waconia

It’s a completely different culture in the school than in the business world. The teachers and students are kind, excited, and engaged. It’s been a lot of fun.

Len Olson, Math Tutor

Len Olson, Math Corps Tutor, Southview Elementary School

Len Olson wanted to be a teacher, but with a mortgage, two children and other financial commitments, found himself in the business world instead. He began his career in sales and worked his way up the corporate ladder. His entrepreneurial spirit fueled the start-up of two technology companies. But he kept feeling drawn to education – Len even returned to school at one point to work toward a teaching license. It wasn’t until retirement that he’d get a chance to pursue his dream.

As a part-time Math Corps tutor, Len helped 4th graders in Waconia build a strong math foundation. He saw how their confidence bloomed and saw their scores increase. Len really enjoyed working with the teachers to help students reach their goals. And he even earned his substitute teaching license so he could help out even more!

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Willie Day

I get to apply skills I learned in college to teach math to school students. And I find it rewarding that I can make a difference in their success. I like being part of their becoming more confident as they improve upon their math skills.

Kim Le

Math Corps made me think how I could explain things differently if kids didn’t understand right away.

administratorLen Olson
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Michael Gilleo

Math Tutor – Minneapolis

I wanted to spend a year doing something that would help me grow and better prepare me for a career as a physician. Because of my Math Corps experience I was accepted to the University of Minnesota Medical School!

Michael Gilleo, Math Tutor

Michael Gilleo, Math Corps Tutor, Northeast College Prep Charter School

After college, Michael Gilleo wanted to take a gap year to apply for medical school and get involved in activities that would benefit his future career. When he found out about Math Corps, he thought it would be a great opportunity to build relationships and give back to the city he’d called home for the past four years.

But while serving with Math Corps, Michael gained so much more than he expected. Whether it was his students stopping by his classroom to say hello before school or the stack of handmade thank-you cards he received from the fifth graders (even those not in Math Corps!), the connections Michael was able to build with his students and the “sense of belonging to a new community” was the most rewarding aspect of his work.

Michael even grants getting accepted into medical school at the University of Minnesota to his experience with Math Corps!

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Willie Day

I get to apply skills I learned in college to teach math to school students. And I find it rewarding that I can make a difference in their success. I like being part of their becoming more confident as they improve upon their math skills.

Kim Le

Math Corps made me think how I could explain things differently if kids didn’t understand right away.

administratorMichael Gilleo
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Maria Jimenez Perez

Math Tutor – Woodbury

The best part about being a tutor with Math Corps is being witness to the incredible transformation these students make. At the end of the year they all say that they didn’t know math could be fun!

Maria Jimenez Perez, Math Tutor

Maria Jimenez Perez, Math Corps Tutor, Middleton Elementary

Maria Jimenez Perez was a high school math and science teacher in Puerto Rico for nine years before moving to Minnesota with her family. One day while volunteering at her children’s new school, she saw a Math Corps sticker in the office window and her interest was piqued. She had seen firsthand how her high school students had lacked the basic math skills needed for algebra and “saw it as a sign” that she should get involved.

Seeing her students transform into confident learners is what gives Maria the drive to continue serving each year. She recalled one particular student who not only was succeeding during their sessions, but took Math Corps concepts and then applied them to her test in class. It was the first passing grade she had received in math! Maria noted that the student was so proud, she had left the test on her desk for Maria to see.

“Serving as a Minnesota Math Corps tutor has been one of the most enriching opportunities I’ve had,” Maria says. “If you are not sure, just give it a try. You will not regret it!”

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Willie Day

I get to apply skills I learned in college to teach math to school students. And I find it rewarding that I can make a difference in their success. I like being part of their becoming more confident as they improve upon their math skills.

Kim Le

Math Corps made me think how I could explain things differently if kids didn’t understand right away.

administratorMaria Jimenez Perez
read more

Char Weir

Math Tutor – Princeton

I serve with Math Corps to help children learn not to fear math and let it hold them back, but rather to embrace and engage in the challenges that math provides.

Char Weir, Math Tutor

Char Weir, Math Corps tutor, Princeton Intermediate

Char Weir struggled with math and didn’t have much confidence in her ability to do math. She avoided it as much as possible. Now, she’s giving back to children who have similar struggles. Char is a mother of three who has spent many hours volunteering with school, community, and church groups; it’s clear, as she says, that her “heart loves to help, encourage, and engage with children.” She plans to use her education award to return to college for a teaching degree in elementary education.

Char shares a story of one student who was very discouraged, frequently saying things like “I can’t” and “Math is too hard.” Char noticed that though this little girl was kind to her classmates, she was very tough on herself. Together, as they worked on math skills, they also discussed positive self-talk, embracing challenges, and having a positive outlook. Char was proud to say this student was ready to graduate Math Corps at the end of the year!  

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Willie Day

I get to apply skills I learned in college to teach math to school students. And I find it rewarding that I can make a difference in their success. I like being part of their becoming more confident as they improve upon their math skills.

Kim Le

Math Corps made me think how I could explain things differently if kids didn’t understand right away.

administratorChar Weir
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Kim Le

Math Tutor – Saint Paul

Math Corps made me think how I could explain things differently if kids didn’t understand right away.

Kim Le, Math Tutor

Kim Le, Math Corps tutor, American Indian Magnet School

Kim Le was looking for direction in her career. With a degree in math and a few years’ experience in retail management, she was curious about teaching, but realized she needed to build professional skills and earn money for graduate school. Math Corps provided her with relevant experience and was a perfect transition to teaching.

Kim served two years at American Indian Magnet School in St. Paul. At first, she was a bit tentative about serving middle school students, but ended up loving it. She enjoyed getting to know her students on a personal level, and they excelled with one-on-one attention.

Now a high school math teacher, Kim is grateful for her Math Corps experience. She regularly employs the skills she learned as a tutor.

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Willie Day

I get to apply skills I learned in college to teach math to school students. And I find it rewarding that I can make a difference in their success. I like being part of their becoming more confident as they improve upon their math skills.

Kim Le

Math Corps made me think how I could explain things differently if kids didn’t understand right away.

administratorKim Le
read more

Dan Carlson

Math Tutor – Motley

I get to work with young people and staff which helps me stay young at heart. But the best part is helping the students and seeing the light come on in their eyes.

Dan Carlson, Math Tutor

Dan Carlson, Math Corps Tutor, Staples-Motley Middle School

As a former police officer, Dan Carlson has always made serving others an important part of his life. After retirement, he knew he wanted to continue to serve his community, but in a different way. His daughter, a Minnesota Reading Corps tutor, had spoken highly of the program, and Dan thought Math Corps might be just the opportunity to give back he was looking for.

Not a “math person” himself, Dan wants others to know that you don’t need to be an expert in math in order to serve, just “be willing to help students who need that little extra to get them back up to where they need to be.” The smiles from the students, the silly stories they tell and that light that comes on in their eyes when a concept finally clicks is his greatest motivation. And while serving in a 3-day a week position, Dan is still able to find plenty of time for all his favorite activities during his retirementfishing, golfing and relaxing!

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Willie Day

I get to apply skills I learned in college to teach math to school students. And I find it rewarding that I can make a difference in their success. I like being part of their becoming more confident as they improve upon their math skills.

Kim Le

Math Corps made me think how I could explain things differently if kids didn’t understand right away.

administratorDan Carlson
read more