Seventh-grader Robbie Bedolla poses with mom Tracy, who is a math and science teacher at Rancho San Justo Middle School. Photos by Becky Bonner.

Wanting to show the accessibility and fun of learning mathematical concepts, the math department at Rancho San Justo Middle School put on its first Family Math Night on May 23. Support for the event included Principal Vickie Smith and the Bruce W. Woolpert Algebra Academy.

“The Bruce W. Woolpert Algebra Academy works with schools to increase the focus on math and provides for students to attend a summer immersion week prior to them taking algebra,” said Debbi Parcell, a Rancho San Justo math coach who helped organize the event. “The Algebra Academy also has supported our math club, our Pi Day celebration in March, field trips to colleges and universities, as well as helping us fund our Family Math Night.”

In total, 73 students and family members came to partake in interactive math games.

“We had 12 stations of math-related games and activities that were all led by student Mathletes,” Parcell said. “During the school day, these students went into all math classes to give a preview of their station.”

One such student was seventh-grader Robbie Bedolla. In addition to running a station at the event, Bedolla is also a member of the school’s Associated Student Body and participates in sports.

She said it was fun working with parents and other students, adding that when families discover math together it “helps them bond in a unique way.”

Katie Calleri, Parent Teacher Organization president and eighth grade committee head, agreed.

“It’s huge to get the community involved with the students,” Calleri said. “Hollister still needs its community support for the students to succeed.”

Engaging students and their families with math-related activities didn’t stop on campus. As attendees left the event, they received goodie bags with math activities and games.

For Principal Smith, the event offered students and family members a chance to see how math could be taught in a dynamic way.

“I was a kid who hated math and struggled with it because we moved all the time,” Smith said.

She found a passion for math once she entered college. With has over 30 years in education, 20 of them have involved math.

For Smith, making math hands-on and bringing it into the classroom and community is key.

“If you give me a hands-on experience and make it engaging, then I can understand and apply it,” she said.