Students tutor Mar Vista pre-schoolers, third graders

Back for their fourth and final week of tutoring at Beethoven Street Elementary School, a group of Harvard-Westlake ninth graders enter Barbara Sandler’s third grade classroom and sit at desks beside their respective pupils.

The children pull out their math homework for the evening, and when they have completed the first few problems, one realizes the marked improvement they have made since the first trip.

At the end, it is bittersweet saying goodbye to the kids, but the teenagers can do so believing that they have truly had a positive impact.

Once again, middle school students will be able to make a difference in the lives of young children through the Beethoven and Mar Vista Head Start programs.

The tradition of students performing community service for Mar Vista Head Start began in 1983 at the Westlake school, and has since provided opportunities every year for community service credit.

On eight days this school year, eighth grade students will be able to spend time after school or during the morning with young preschool students, many of whom speak English as a second language.

Students play with the children and help them with art projects and other activities in the classroom.

The goal of Mar Vista Head Start, a federally funded program, is to prepare underprivileged children for kindergarten and their future elementary school endeavors.

Harvard-Westlake’s trips to the preschool are overseen by history teacher Karen Fukushima, with assistance provided by Head of Community Service Victoria Goddard and by teachers Matthew Cutler, Anamaria Ayala and Jessica Kaufman.

The Beethoven trips, organized by science teacher David Fromme and overseen by Goddard, allow ninth grade students to tutor similarly disadvantaged third graders at Beethoven Street Elementary School in Mar Vista.

Students help the children complete their homework and gain a better understanding of concepts they have learned in class.

Trips have been organized to the school for over a decade, with five sets of four trips per year. Fromme will lead the first set of trips, with English teachers Jordan Ethe and Michael Chavez and librarians David Wee and Maxine Lucas leading the others.