By Linda Alvarado-Arce and Lynne Hamer

This fall, Escuela SMART Academy students will be able to catch up and soar ahead in math while also receiving support for reading. Tutoría de Matemáticas is a collaboration between Toledo Public Schools (TPS), the University of Toledo (UT), TutorSmart (a local not-for profit), and a grant funded by the Ohio Department of Education (ODE).

Beginning October 10th, every Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday, from 2:30 pm- 4:05 pm, Tutoría de Matemáticas will combine art and math to engage K-6th grade Escuela SMART students in mastering math skills. The sessions are designed not only for students who need help in math but also for those who already love and excel in math. In addition to the focus on math, all students will also work on reading.

All Escuela students are eligible to participate. Parent-guardians of Escuela students are encouraged to register their child for this free afterschool program. Escuela Principal Natasha Allen said, “We are excited to partner with UT and TutorSmart to provide after school math tutoring for our students. Connecting our community with our students through our ODE tutoring program is one way to show support and provide our students the necessary math tools and skills to become successful.”

Lourdes Santiago, one of the founders of Escuela SMART Academy, saw the ODE opportunity and reached out to UToledo’s Judith Herb College of Education to assist in applying for this grant, and by June, the ODE notified UToledo that they were awarding grants to the UToledo to provide tutoring at several TPS schools, including Escuela SMART. Santiago hopes all Escuela students will take advantage of the opportunity to increase their math and reading skills through tutoring. She challenges Escuela students to become “masters of knowledge.”

The program is currently hiring University of Toledo students as well as some non-student community members to serve as tutors. Tutors each bring some combination of knowledge and experience with education methods, math, art, and the Spanish language. They also bring enthusiasm for the love of learning and bringing math to life for the K-6th grade students of Escuela.

Dr. Bill Weber, a retired professor of math education at UToledo, will work with tutors to develop effective math pedagogy and curriculum. Weber explained, “As children study math, one of the most important things is for them to develop a belief that math makes sense. Their understanding of math grows as a result of doing math, thinking about math, and talking about math.”

By using an arts-based approach to math, Escuela tutoring will involve students in doing, thinking, and talking about math. By engaging in art, students can experience how math is used in the world, while also having fun. Arts used in math exploration will include music, such as the new Escuela school song composed for the program by Santiago and ALAS board vice-president and retired TPS music educator, Teresa Linares. ALAS stands for Avance Latinx Académico Society and will be providing community support for the program.

This tutoring program will also include visual arts and culinary arts. For example, using visual arts, students will practice addition, multiplication, and grouping by playing the dice game “Roll an Alebrijes.” The numbers they roll will direct them to create their own mythical protective animals. In the culinary arts, plans for fall include the use of math in making flan and cookies.

Weber explained, “The tutoring program at Escuela SMART Academy will help every child believe that they are able to understand math as they explore how numbers work, how their world is made up of all different kinds of shapes, and how to use math to solve real world problems.” He concluded, “Math is fun….. math is exciting…. math is interesting… math makes sense!”

Those wanting to sign their children up for math tutoring at Escuela SMART Academy should contact the school, in person or by calling 419-671-5550. Those who would like to apply to be tutors for the program should contact Dr. Lynne Hamer at or 419-283-8288.