Help Us Make Math Less Scary

What scared you when you were a kid?

Maybe you were afraid of the dark or the monster potentially lurking under your bed. Or maybe you saw a horror movie that made you terrified of clowns, dolls, or monsters.

But childhood fears can also be less sinister. Maybe your anxiety creeped in whenever you had to give a presentation in front of your peers, take a test, or work out challenging math problems that you could never seem to get right.

Someone experiencing math anxiety does not necessarily lack the ability in mathematics, but they are unable to perform at their full potential because their fear impacts their ability to succeed. Studies suggest that highly anxious math students will avoid situations in which they will have to complete mathematical calculations. Unfortunately, math avoidance leads to less competency, exposure, and math practice, which only increases students’ anxiety—leaving students unprepared to achieve.

We see the lasting impacts of this fear firsthand when recruiting for our Math Classroom Coaching (MCC) program. People’s demeanor often changes with just the mention of the “m” word. We hear things like: “I’m not good at math. I’m just not a math person. I couldn’t possibly tutor students.”

But that couldn’t be further from the truth! Here are three reasons why you can still help, even if you’re scared of math.

  1. You’ll always have support from the classroom teacher and one of our MCC coordinators. Our MCC program works with sixth and seventh graders, which means you won’t need to help students solve complex equations. You’ll receive the lessons in advance, so you’ll have time to refresh yourself on the concepts beforehand. If there’s ever anything you’re unsure about, the teacher and one of our MCC coordinators are on hand to help.


  1. You can model good behavior when things get tough. MCC works to increase students’ enjoyment of math and decrease their fear. Often students shut down when something gets too challenging. Having some fear of math means you can relate to students who freeze when they can’t quickly figure out the answer. You can model good behavior—showing that it’s okay to be unsure, ask questions, and even get things wrong sometimes. When students recognize that there’s nothing wrong with not having all the answers and making mistakes, they’re more open to trying—and that practice helps them learn to succeed.


  1. Math is just part of the equation. Our primary goal of MCC is to raise students’ confidence in their math abilities. Volunteers like you help student’s better understand math, but also provide individualized feedback that students can depend on this week. Math classroom coaches focus both on reinforcing math concepts and forming a positive connection with students. We want students to know that members of the community genuinely care about them and their success.

There’s a lot of things to be afraid of, but math doesn’t have to be one of them. Join us in helping students become less fearful of math—you might lose some of your own math anxiety in the process!

To learn more about our Math Classroom Coaching program and to sign up to volunteer, visit We have more volunteer opportunities open in the spring semester, so stay tuned to our website if we currently don’t have openings that work with your schedule.

Post by: Ashley Yeaman, Communications & Volunteer Recruitment Coordinator, Austin Partners in Education

September 2019 Newsletter: A Slice of APIE

August Newsletter 2019

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Welcome to the 2019-2020 school year from our Executive Director, Cathy Jones:


Cathy Welcome Letter Revised

APIE in the Classroom | Register Today! 

MCC Covington

Interested in volunteering? Registration is now open for our Math Classroom Coaching and Mentoring Programs!

This year, our Math Classroom Coaches will be assisting students in sixth and seventh grade at six middle schools -Burnet, Dobie, Covington, Martin, Sadler Means YWLA, and Webb.  Our mentors will continue to create and sustain meaningful relationships with K-12 students across AISD schools.

Click here to support Austin students by becoming a Math Classroom Coach or Mentor today. For more information, please e-mail

 New Board Chair | Rick  Whiteley

Rick Whiteley Photo

Austin Partners In Education (APIE) is pleased to announce Rick Whiteley, Executive Director of Cushman & Wakefield, as its new Board Chair. Whiteley was unanimously selected as the APIE Chair by the Board of Directors of the Austin Chamber of Commerce.

Whiteley brings over 35 years of experience in Austin’s commercial real estate sector and a long history of civic and professional engagement.  Rick is also a Board Member of The Greater Austin Economic Development Corporation (Opportunity Austin) and was named The Austin Chamber of Commerce’s Volunteer of the Year in 2008 and again in 2016. Whiteley is a proud graduate of The University of Texas at Austin and remains a lifetime Longhorn with involvement in the Texas Exes and other UT related programs.

“I am honored to be selected to lead the APIE Board and be involved in the important work that the Chamber does in partnership with the Austin Independent School District to provide AISD students with additional resources to help them succeed in the classroom and in life,” Whiteley said.

Summer Recap | Fun with APIE

Summer Recap revised


2020 Austin Marathon | Join Our Team!



The 2020 Austin Marathon, Half-Marathon, and 5K will take place on Sunday, February 16th, 2020.  Registration is open, and we hope you will join our team! For updates, insider stories, and increasing price notifications follow Austin Partners In Education on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.



APIE: 15 Years of Social ImpactSocial Impact Slide

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April Newsletter: A Slice of APIE

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Happy Volunteer Appreciation Month! We’re endlessly grateful to you, our dedicated volunteers. Without you, APIE wouldn’t be … APIE!

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Our students love when you take time out of your day to work with them!

“They help me and they’re nice and they give us extra help.” – Judy

“They take the time to explain it to us step by step.” – Samantha

“We still do work but it’s a little bit of a break because it’s fun work.” – Gerardo

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And it appears that you love your time with the students, too!

“The students keep me young!” – Joan

“I like giving back to the community. If you give a person an education, it’s like teaching them to fish.” – Dave

“I walk away from every volunteer opportunity with such great fulfillment.  It is great to do something for the kids and the community.” – Kalandra


Andrew DurhamVolunteer Spotlight | Andrew Durham

Hi Andrew! How has your experience as a Math Classroom Coach been so far?

It has been great. The students are very respectful, willing to learn and always very happy to see us when we walk in the door. We have a great group of tutors and the classroom teacher is very welcoming – a positive experience all around.

Why did you decide to become a Classroom Coach?

I used to tutor High School math whilst at University, and I wanted to get involved again and offer any help to encourage the next generation. When I heard about the opportunity at APIE and the experiences of other tutors it compelled me to sign up. My sons are a similar age to these students I help tutor, so it also gives me an up-to-date refresher for our homework time!

In general, what do you like about volunteering – what keeps you coming back?

I like seeing someone having that “lightbulb moment”, when a concept sinks in and they are able to repeat and master the new ability. Each person can take a slightly different length of time to pick up new theories or ideas, and sometimes we as tutors can offer that little extra one-on-one attention that is the encouragement to realize the concept.

Do you have any favorite stories about your students so far?

One girl was struggling with ratios for the majority of the lesson. Finally, it clicked right as the bell rang. As the others packed up, she finished the problem herself and seemed very proud that she figured it out (and wouldn’t have to complete it for homework)!

As a volunteer, what lasting impact do you hope to have on your students?

My goal is to offer a familiar face, giving them an opportunity to ask questions and progress each week. I aim to encourage them to stick with math, keep trying and it will start to make sense. As an engineer – I like to offer them proof that math really is used in the real world.

Why should someone volunteer as a Classroom Coach?

It is a great way to get out of the office and have a change of scenery that is 100% different than the rest of the work-week. Sitting in the classroom is by far the fastest and most enjoyable 45 minutes of my week. It is also important that students see people (other than parents and teachers) care about them and perhaps it may also inspire them to volunteer in the future.

Donor Spotlight | Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation

Cathy & Norma IICF reception

Executive Director Cathy Jones with IICF Board Member Norma Essary

Special thanks to the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation (IICF) for their recently awarded grant to APIE’s College Readiness program.  IICF Board member, Norma Essary, also CEO of Surplus Lines Stamping Office of Texas, recommended APIE to IICF and we are deeply grateful.

The IICF is a unique organization that helps communities and enriches lives by uniting the collective strength of the insurance industry through grants, volunteer service, and leadership. The IICF has served as the philanthropic branch of the insurance industry for more than 25 years. During their annual Week of Giving,  IICF member, The Zenith Company, has supported APIE over the past two years during its annual Week of Giving and has also provided volunteer support several other times.

“I look forward to our volunteer experiences with APIE because it helps me learn and understand the needs of our community. I know how important it was for me to grow up with an education and I want every kid out there to have the same opportunity, regardless of their circumstances.  The work that APIE is doing for our community will have far-reaching implications and I’m happy to be able to partner with them to make a difference.” Lisa – The Zenith Company

Thank you, IICF!

Join us at Salute!


Save the Date!  APIE is hosting a Volunteer Appreciation Event on Wednesday, June 5th!

Picnic in the Park!

Pease Park – 4:30 pm – 7:30pm

Refreshments provided

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January 2019 Newsletter: A Slice of APIE

January Newsletter

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Welcome back, volunteers! In this issue, we share our program results, spotlight several of APIE’s supporters, and kick off the new year celebrating National Mentoring Month.

National Mentoring Month


Americans are overwhelmingly crossing racial, economic, and other bridges to mentor young people outside their families. As reported by the National Mentoring Partnership, one-in-three young Americans are growing up without a mentor to offer real-life guidance, leading to possible disconnection from school and work.

With a Mentor, a child is:

  • 52% less likely than their peers to skip a day of school
  • 55% more likely to be enrolled in college
  • 46% less likely than their peers to start using drugs
  • 81% more likely to report participating regularly in sports extracurricular activities
  • 78% more likely to volunteer regularly in their communities
  • 130% more likely to say that they held a leadership position in a club or sports team

-As reported by the National Mentoring Partnership

Refer a Friend | Spread the Word About APIE

thank you notesSpring semester has begun, and we are looking for caring adults to join us in the classrooms. Have you asked your friends, coworkers, or neighbors, “Do you like working with students?  Can you give one hour a week to enrich the education of  a young learner?”  We would love for them to join APIE! Click here to register.

Listen to more testimonials about volunteering with APIE here.

Volunteer Spotlight | Rick Schumacher


Rick Schumacher, APIE Mentor

Rick Schumacher has been an APIE mentor since 2010. As a military veteran, Rick recognized volunteering with APIE aligns with his passion for providing service to the community.

Why did you decide to become a mentor?

I am a Tillman Scholar. The Tillman Foundation provides scholarships to military veterans and spouses. Part of our ethos is a dedication to service. Mentoring seemed like a great way to provide service to my community.

Additionally, I was lucky enough to have a mentor when I was a kid. He had a big impact on where I am today. I want to pay it forward.

What activities do you do with your mentee?

Mostly we eat lunch and talk about school, life, and video games. We also like to play board games. I am in a unique position in that I have two mentees, one in second grade and the other in seventh. It is interesting to contrast the two. I have mentored the seventh-grader since he was in kindergarten. Back then, we started playing with simple toys; and now, we are playing chess. It has been great to see him progress over the years.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced as a mentor?

Sometimes there are issues that have come up that are just too big for me to handle. Maybe it is a situation at home or maybe there is an issue of bullying. It is great to know that I am not alone. The counselors and teachers have always been available.

Have you had a specific “breakthrough” moment or story where you’ve shared a positive session with your mentee?

When you go into the mentoring relationship, you usually get some background on the mentee, home life or particular concerns at school. I had one mentee for two years and it was half-way through the second year when he finally opened up about his background. It was just like any other conversation we had ever had, easy and without hesitation. I was so happy that I was able to bridge that gap and become someone he could just talk to without the filters.

What advice do you have for mentors in the future?

  • Meet the kids where they are. You have to tap into your inner 8-year-old.
  • Be honest and open. They will know if you are trying to sugarcoat something.
  • Set goals with your mentee. All A’s or no behavior problems? Wear a clown wig to lunch. Get creative!

Program Results | Annual Evaluation Report 2017-2018

The results are in and you helped make a difference! Thank you for being a part of APIE’s initiative to connect the community and the classroom. We know our volunteers increase students’ self-confidence and improve their test scores, too.

Math Classroom Coaching Program

Eighth-grade students from seven middle schools participated in APIE’s Math Classroom Coaching Program to prepare for Algebra I in high school. In 2018, our strongest results were with our Hispanic students, who make up 76% of our math program and met the STAAR Math passing standard at significantly higher rates than did their matched peers. APIE participants also developed greater awareness of math-related careers.

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College Readiness Program

Overall, 487 seniors from 10 AISD high schools participated in APIE’s College Readiness Program. Significantly greater percentages of APIE CR program participants than of a matched comparison group met college readiness criteria on college admissions tests (i.e. ACT, SAT, and TSI) and completed college admissions and financial aid applications


Donor Spotlight | Patty Steinwedell


Patty Steinwedell, APIE Supporter

Patty works for the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) and has been an active APIE donor and volunteer with the Middle School Math Classroom Coaching program for two years. We asked her a few questions about her experience as an APIE Volunteer, and about her reasons for giving back.

Why do you get involved in the community? 

In order to feel at home in a place, it’s important to make a contribution.  Contributions include time, talent, and resources.  Involvement in the community gives me a chance to learn new things, to share some things I’ve learned, and to feel grounded where I live.  Getting involved creates a common history that binds us together and makes a place feel like home.

What inspired you to volunteer with Austin Partners In Education and what have you enjoyed most about it?

I work at the Teacher Retirement System of Texas and they offer a program giving TRS employees time to go volunteer with APIE.  It was an easy decision to take part! Volunteering with APIE is a great opportunity to give back to the community TRS serves.  I chose to be a Math Classroom Coach because of my various careers in insurance, as a stay at home mom, and in finance, all required a strong foundation in math.  Without strong math skills, I would not have been successful in any of these careers.  I’m not the first one to say this, and I believe it completely: The only investment with guaranteed returns is an education.

What’s one of your favorite stories from your time volunteering with APIE?

One group I worked with included four students who had a lot of fun with each other, but sometimes their attention to math wasn’t a high priority.  For any age, it’s hard for math to compete with phones and paper football and sports and social conversations, but maybe especially for 8th graders.  I sometimes wondered if any of the lessons were sinking in, but then at the end of the year, I received a handmade card from all of them that was heartfelt and proved they had been listening more than I knew.  And Shakira’s card was so honest it brought a chuckle:  “Thank you for working with me and helping me.  Even though most of the time the group was loud and playing, I appreciate you sticking with us and not leaving.”

Austin Marathon | Sam & Grace Dowd

The 2019 Austin Marathon is quickly approaching! On February 17th, runners will compete in the Marathon, Half Marathon, and 5K while fundraising for their favorite nonprofit organizations. During last year’s race, Sam and Grace Dowd raised over $6,000 for Austin Partners In Education. Here’s an inside look on their experience!

sam and grace dowd

Sam & Grace Dowd, Austin Marathon Participants and APIE Supporters

“We were nervous at first about soliciting donations, but after we drafted a letter together and sent it out we received an incredible response! There are so many people looking for great organizations to support in Austin, and we were thrilled to tell people more about the scope and scale of APIE’s work. The outpouring of support served as tremendous motivation to run hard for APIE. We cannot wait to start the process again.”

APIE will be returning to mile 22 to hand out water and cheer Austin Marathon runners on! Volunteer to join the fun during this city-wide event. On February 17th, two shifts are offered: 7:30AM to 11:00AM, and 10:30AM to 2:00PM. To sign-up, please e-mail Andrea Panter – See you on race day!

2019 Marathon Banner (2)

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October 2018 Newsletter: A Slice of APIE

October 2018

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Our Mentoring and Math Classroom Coaching programs are officially back in full swing! From students and teachers to staff here at APIE, we are so grateful for your commitment to supporting the success of young Austinites. Thank you! In this issue, be sure to check out tips and testimonials from our community members.

Refer a Friend | Spread the Word About APIE

IMG_2025“The mentorship you give students really makes a difference in their lives. Volunteers are needed in all schools.  Please sign up to help and make a difference in a child’s life. -Joan, APIE Math Classroom Coach

“Not only does my mentee get excited about me coming every week, but his friends do, too. We really need more volunteers.” -Derrick, APIE Mentor

We are still looking to fill spots in our Math Classroom Coaching and Mentoring programs! Have you asked your friends, coworkers, or neighbors, “Do you like working with students?  Can you give one hour a week to enrich the education of  a young learner?”  We would love for them to join APIE! Click here to register.

Listen to more testimonials about volunteering with APIE here.

Quick Bites of APIE | Tips for Math Classroom Coaches

  • Relationships are an essential part of learning.  Spend time getting to know your students.  Make sure you know their names and use them.  Ask them questions to learn about their lives.  As a volunteer, you are modeling the relationship you want to have with them, and how they can relate to their world.
  • Be patient.  Students may become disengaged when learning difficult concepts.   Math is a subject that takes time to learn.  Math Classroom Coaches answer questions, guide the discussion, and help find successes to balance out failures.
  • Make math relevant. Whenever possible, relate concepts to everyday life. Even if the student doesn’t think a lesson is applicable, remind them when math can be used in the world around them.  Share your enthusiasm for math and learning!
  • Celebrate mistakes.  A mistake is an opportunity to learn.  Help students examine their mistakes so they can learn what they still need to learn!
  • Praise effort. Celebrate students’ progress by acknowledging their effort.  Give genuine and specific praise for their behaviors that you would like to reinforce.  (“I like that you asked questions to make sure you understood what the problem is asking for” or “I like how you explained the problem to your friend.”)
  • Have fun. The relationships you build with your students over the year may impact their worldview, and yours. Students look forward to having a caring community member come into their classroom. Remember to enjoy math, your students, and yourself!

Happy Hour Recap

On Tuesday, September 25th APIE volunteers, donors, staff and Board members toasted the new school year at Austin Eastciders. We enjoyed a variety of ciders as well as delicious hors d’oeuvres provided by a friend of APIE, and donated by Trader Joe’s. Thank you to everyone who was able to join us!

Giving Tuesday | November 27, 2018

Save the date

This holiday season, give the gift of a mentor or a tutor to students across Austin ISD. APIE greatly appreciates your volunteer work with Austin ISD students, and we are able to create even more of an impact through generous donations.

Mark your calendars to support our Mentoring and Math Classroom Coaching programs on November 27.


Fall Day of Caring | September 21, 2018

JP Morgan

APIE gives a warm “thank you” to our friends at United Way Central Texas for hosting Fall Day of Caring 2018! Members from JP Morgan Chase came to help prepare materials for APIE’s Math Classroom Coaching program as we kicked off the new school year. Thank you, JP Morgan and UWATX!



2019 Austin Marathon | Join Our Team!


The 2019 Austin Marathon, Half-Marathon, and 5K will take place on Sunday, February 17, 2019.  Registration is open, and we hope you will join our team here!

For updates, insider stories, and increasing price notifications follow Austin Partners In Education on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.


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