Jefferson AwardsBy Allen Martin

by Jennifer Mistrot and Allen Martin

SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) — It is summertime and Maya Nayak and Monjish Bhattacharyya could be taking it easy. Instead the two 17-year-olds are teaching younger children math. When Nayak and Bhattacharyya were in 7th grade, the childhood friends saw a need for free math tutoring in their local community.

So in 2015 they formed FunMath4Kids, and started teaching a handful of younger students at a single San Jose library branch. Since then, the organization has expanded into a half a dozen libraries, with 40 plus volunteers teaching math to nearly 1500 students.

“I love to it so much,” declared Nayak. “I like spending time with these kids.”

For Bhattacharyya, his love of math made free summer tutoring an easy decision.

“Long story short: A, I had nothing better to do over that summer, and B, I did like math and I could see myself doing a pretty good job at it,” explained Bhattacharyya. “So I kind of figured hey why don’t I just give this thing a shot.”

Alexis Guerrero says math has always been a struggle. The future 7th grader is gaining valuable skills during his time at FunMath4Kids.

“I struggle sometimes because I don’t get some things,” said Guerrero. “It was multiplication, yeah. And you need multiplication to do math, it’s the big part.

Nayak and Bhattacharyya spend about 5 hours weekly prepping and teaching the free, drop-in classes. They fund the program themselves, using Library workspace and affordable basics like paper and pencils. But it’s the personal connection with the kids they teach that the duo says keeps them committed to FunMath4Kids.

“Seeing a lot of kids like grow, not only like their patience level and how much they are growing in math, it warms our heart,” said Nayak.