Math & Mentors: Making math fun

December 15, 2022

Math & Mentors: Making math fun

West Shore School News is a presentation of West Shore Educational Service District in partnership with Mason County Press and Oceana County Press. 

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief

SCOTTVILLE — Area second graders recently learned that math can be fun. Over 42 community volunteers helped bring Math and Mentors to all the elementary schools in Mason County. The mentors were paired up with a student and then played a few rounds of the math game Farkle. 

Farkle is a dice game played by two more more players with each player in succession having a turn at throwing the dice. Each player’s turn results in a score, and the scores for each player accumulate to some winning total. Through the game the kids learn math skills. 

Math and Mentors was coordinated by Brian Dotson, MiSTEM Region 9 director through the West Shore Educational Service District (WSESD). It was funded by a grant from the Community Foundation for Mason County’s Youth Advisory Council, which consists of local high school students. 

Dotson said the idea for Math and Mentors originated by his predecessor Kathy Surd. Meg Brown, WSESD math specialist, suggested the game Farkle. 

“We started recruiting volunteers back in October,” Dotson said, “and then held some trainings in November. In addition to the 42 volunteers, the mentors also included 12 students from the ESD’s Educator Academy, taught by Amanda Shoup.

Each of the students were given a Farkle game to take home; the game was given to them gift wrapped.

“Math can be a frustrating subject for many students,” Dotson said. “This is an opportunity for the kids to learn and have fun at the same time. We’ve seen a lot of smiles while visiting all the area schools.”

“This has been a great experience,” said volunteer Jim Schulte, president of the Mason County Central Board of Education. Schulte volunteered with the program when it was held earlier this week at Scottville Elementary. “Anytime you can interact with kids in a positive learning environment, it’s a plus. Brian and his team have been great and this is a great way for kids to learn counting skills.” 

Schulte, a retired college football coach, laughed when he said each of the kids “smoked him” when they played against him. 

The West Shore ESD offers several resources for parents and teachers of elementary-age children. Math Moments is a website that has a lot of information, including games and engagement cards, about mathematics. 



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