Being Eagle Strong means adapting to change. Eastern Eagles have shown that strength again and again during the coronavirus pandemic, including math education students who learned a whole new style of teaching while also helping the community.

With almost two quarters completed in the virtual format, EWU faculty members and students alike have had to make difficult adjustments to succeed at online learning. And for many education students, they’re seeing it from both sides—as the student and as the teacher.

Carlos Castillo-Garsow, PhD, EWU Associate Professor of Mathematics

“Teaching online can be very challenging, but it’s something I would recommend for everyone,” says Carlos Castillo-Garsow, an associate professor of mathematics education at Eastern. “You don’t really get a sense of how important feedback is from students and knowing how students are performing in the classroom until it’s hard to get that information.”

To help his math education students learn the necessary skills for virtual teaching, Castillo-Garsow partnered with local health care facilities to pair EWU students with the children of frontline health care workers. Eastern students started hosting virtual math tutoring sessions starting in the spring quarter, and many continued through the fall quarter.

“There are a lot of doctors and nurses and psychiatrists who are working in hospitals right now who can’t be home to help their children with their home schooling,” says Castillo-Garsow. “And we have a lot of math education students here at Eastern who need some practical experience spending time with students.”

Castillo-Garsow and his students have received high praise from some of the employees at St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Institute who are thankful to have the extra help during this challenging time.

“Teaching my son has been so hard; math is the only thing that is going well,” wrote one parent. “The tutor explains things in an understandable way and works so well with him. I don’t understand math. I wouldn’t have known what to do. I’m so glad this was available!”

For the fall quarter, Castillo-Garsow also got additional groups on campus involved, like the Women in Science at EWU (WiSE) club. He hopes to continue as long as the services are helpful to those who need them.

“It really is a perfect opportunity for us to help out and provide support for the community in this time,” he adds.

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