New Math Center is a Helpful Resource for Upper Schoolers Brave Enough to Enter


Valentina V.

Athena N. ’23 and Natalie S. ’23 working together in the Math Center

When I walked into Room 11, I was invited in by a big poster that read “Welcome to The Math Center” in bold blue letters. Then someone kindly asked, “Do you need any help?” 

This October, the Math Department introduced the Math Center as a place for Upper School students to get math help from their peers—or “Math Fellows”—during the last thirty minutes of every lunch period. The Fellows consist of mostly juniors and seniors who are more than willing to assist with math needs, whether it be with homework help or assessment preparation. 

Overseen by Upper School Math teachers Leah Dahl and Joe Busch, the Math Center has been a departmental idea for some time. A few years ago, when the Upper School Writing Center was proposed, the Math Department expressed interest in a Math Center as a parallel program, but first wanted to see how popular the Writing Center was. However, the pandemic put a pause on their plans for a Math Center, which weren’t brought back to life until late last school year. Ms. Dahl said, “Last spring, right towards the end of the year, I was meeting with a student who was asking me about opportunities for tutoring. And the light bulb went off—I’ve had this idea for a while. This might be a good year to roll [the Math Center] out.” 

Plans for the Math Center soon came together with the help of Ms. Dahl, Dr. Busch, and their “steering committee” as Ms. Dahl called them, which consisted of students Athena N. ’23, Katie E. ’23, Emily L. ’25, and Lauren C. ’24. These students helped brainstorm ideas for the Math Center and spread the word to students about its opening. After plans for the Math Center were approved by the Westridge administration, the next step was to find Upper School volunteers to staff it.

Becoming a Math Fellow is restricted to students who are either in Honors Pre-Calculus, any AP Math class, or beyond, to ensure they’re able to help with a wide array of math concepts. Students interested in becoming Math Fellows filled out an application. Ms. Dahl explained that the Math Department was overwhelmed by the amount of students who signed up to be Math Fellows. This year, every student who applied to the Math Center was accepted. However, she notes that this is not guaranteed for future years.

Math Fellow Isabella K. ’23 helping Audrey B. ’25 with math work (Val)

Students who work at the Math Center get the chance to help out their peers and will receive an annotation on their transcripts. Math Fellow Rachel K. ’24 said, “I joined the Math Center because I thought it was a really good way to contribute to my community; and as someone with an interest in math, I thought it would be a good way to strengthen my skills by working with others.”

Though the Math Center is open to all of Upper School, most of the visitors have been 11th and 12th graders. Ms. Dahl explained, “I would really like to get more freshmen and sophomores in particular coming in, because at this point, it’s been a lot of 11th and 12th graders—probably largely because it’s staffed by 11th and 12th graders, and 11th and 12th graders are more used to seeking out help in school.” 

Some underclassmen have felt intimidated about going to the Math Center because they’re afraid of being wrong or their problems looking small while working with the upperclassmen. Lauren C. ’26 said, “I’m absolutely terrified of the Math Center.” Many freshmen say that they would rather get homework help from their friends or meet with their Math teacher. 

To relieve the stress of going to the Math Center for the first time, Ms. Dahl said, “Keep in mind, these are all people who said that they were really, really excited to help other people.” 

Alice C. ’25 reflected on her experience in the Math Center. “It was super helpful! I got to meet with Dr. Busch and get some peer support, and it was great.”

To expand the outreach of the Math Center, the Math Department hopes to eventually expand its hours to be a resource for Lower and Middle School as well. Another idea for the future of the Math Center is creating a STEM center, so that students can go in with questions regarding science, too. Ms. DahI said, “I feel like that’s a ways off, but there are a bunch of ideas out there.”