Island Teen Volunteers Math Tutoring for Local Youth

January 13, 2019

Free tutoring in Math on Saturday afternoons is the latest offering to the ever-growing, and diverse community of Island avid library users. Our New York Public Library (NYPL) offers a rich, variety of programming for all ages and interests, including early literacy programming, chess clubs for a variety of ages and levels, knitting, STEM activities, historical lectures, book clubs, movies, computer and tech assistance, and more.


A freshman at Hunter College High School, 14 year old David Yao’s resume is already racking up an impressive list of service initiatives. As a middle schooler Yao read to kindergarteners at the Geneva School of Manhattan twice a week. The summer before that he was a counselor in training at Trinity Summer Camp. Last summer he volunteered at the Reformed Church of Newtown as a Sunday School assistant. This winter he is working with I-Help Liberia on a donation of school supplies for Liberian students.


 David Yao in the Library where he tutors Math to Islanders in second through ninth grade


And, lucky for us, this young, ambitious and service oriented teen is offering his math skills for the benefit of local children. Yao is providing free tutoring services Saturday afternoons at our local Roosevelt Island branch of the New York Public Library to local children in grades two through nine.


Yao recounts the years since early childhood growing up enjoying the programing at his local Roosevelt Island Branch of the NYPL. Story Time as a toddler, volcano making workshops and chess as he grew older; they all were an integral part of his education and upbringing. No wonder he is so keen on paying it forward, offering a vitally needed math service to kids like him growing up on Roosevelt Island.


The local Roosevelt Island branch of the NYPL was and continues to be a sanctuary and gift for emergent readers and thinkers as well as for all walks of life.


Carlos Chavez, Director of the Roosevelt Island NYPL branch, describes the serendipitous events that led to the new addition to their weekly curriculum. “The Library often hears from kids who need help with their math homework and parents have also asked where they might find math tutoring. So when [Yao] came to the library and asked if he could give back to the library by volunteering as a math tutor for grades 2-9, we immediately noticed the potential of such an opportunity. I gave David a volunteer application to fill out and within a week he completed the requirements needed to be a volunteer,” explains Chavez.


It happened quickly after that says Chavez. “Together we worked out the day and time to have the program and I created a flyer to promote it at the branch and through our social media. It took off right away. Within a week all the sessions for the first month filled up. We’re thrilled to offer this essential service to the community and work with such a dedicated library user and resident of the Island.”


According to Chavez, the math tutoring will continue through December 2019 (in other words, all year) every Saturday from 2:30 - 4:30 pm. Each interested child may reserve two 45-minute slots per month. Call the library at 212-308-6243 to register your child in advance.


In addition to his service work Yao is a Tenor in the Trinity Youth Choir and a member of the High School varsity swim team and badminton teams. He speaks fluent Mandarin in addition to English, is an intermediate chess player, solves the Rubik’s cube in a minute flat (and can teach your child how to solve it). Oh, and in the American Mathematics Contest David scored in the top 5%.


But he’s also just a kind, amicable, intelligent kid who is ready and able to work with yours. Chavez sums up, “We hope to support the community’s interest in this type of program and create a fun and welcoming environment for local children to improve their math skills. It’s a wonderful benefit for young Roosevelt Islanders to gain insight and learning from one of their neighbors, which builds on the sense of community, collaboration, and camaraderie we foster at the Library.”


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