Like many teens Urvi Gupta, grade 11, maintains a jam-packed schedule. An active student in Harker’s journalism program, she also plays as a starter on the school’s varsity volleyball team. After-school hours are spent practicing the violin, doing homework and hanging out with friends.
Yet Gupta also makes time to give back to her community by providing free math tutoring to K-3 kids at local libraries in San Jose using a unique program she created called OneInMath. The program teaches youngsters simple ways to add, subtract, multiply, divide and understand concepts quickly for math success.
“I designed the free volunteer-run program from the ground up, defining its purpose, goals and developing materials including 1,862 math problem sheets, teaching instructions, learning videos, program format, volunteer instructions, and the logistics of running it,” said Gupta, who teaches as well as independently manages the overall program.
She currently supervises more than 150 kids and 27 high school volunteers across three libraries using the program, which was implemented in November 2011. Now, the popular OneInMath classes – which utilize video instruction in addition to face-to-face volunteer tutoring – has both students and parents excited about learning mathematics.
Gupta said she was inspired to start tutoring math by her dad, who used to give her numerical problems every day when she was younger, which now helps her in high school math classes.
Consequently, she wished for other students to have the same opportunity she had to get a jump start on learning math. She also enjoys the good feeling that comes from volunteerism and tells teens thinking of starting or developing their own service project to “just go for it.”
“Whenever you have a new idea, there are lots of doubts and questions about whether or not it’s a good one. The best thing is to not overthink and just try it. It’s actually quite surprising how much interest people have in these types of projects. They truly appreciate your time and effort, and you feel really rewarded at the end,” she said.
Gupta was recently honored as Volunteer of the Year from the entire San Jose public library system for her dynamic math program and volunteer efforts. The top honor began with a nomination from local librarian Vidya Kilambi, who had been impressed with Gupta’s program for some time.
“Urvi’s amazing leadership and organizational skills are clearly demonstrated in the way she communicates with all the kids, teens, parents and staff at the different library locations,” said Kilambi, noting that in addition to her heavy school course load, Gupta juggles volunteer schedules, creates course content and tracks student progress.