Who would have imagined over 100 past and present students turning up to a celebration of maths?
Yet that is exactly what happened on Friday, 29 June when Penrhos College celebrated the 10th anniversary of our Maths Mentor program. Mentors, teachers, alumni and current students came together to mark a decade of Penrhos girls receiving mentorship from talented mathematicians.
Among the guests were four of the original Maths Mentor students: Anna Surla (2011), Clare Belford (2012), Jane Gao (2012) and Alex White (2012). Alex gave an inspirational speech about the challenges she faced after leaving school and how she dealt with them, while Anna spoke of her time as one of the first Maths Mentors.
“The Maths Mentor students are actively encouraged to dream and learn beyond the restrictions of the classroom,” said Mr Peter Chandler, Maths Mentor Coordinator. “With opportunities ranging from maths competitions to science experiments and real-life lab experiences in workplaces such as the Harry Perkins Institute, the chance to collaborate and learn in such a diverse and engaging environment enables both the Maths Mentor students and their peers to flourish.”
The current Maths Mentor Captains – Huiwen Tan, Klaudia Oey, Vivienne Holt, Libby Arthur and Rebecca Gething – say they have had life-changing experiences because of the program: from National Youth forums in maths and science to intriguing biotechnology workshops, career experience in workplaces, and working with younger girls.
The success of the Penrhos program was acknowledged in 2016 when it won the CHOOSEMATHS Award for the Best Maths Mentor Program in Australia. Some of the prize money was used to establish the Maths Mentor Teacher Education Scholarship. The purpose of this scholarship is to inspire and support a student who is studying to become a Mathematics and/or Science teacher. Kaleb Withers was awarded the 2018 scholarship. Kaleb is in his final year studying a Bachelor of Education at Edith Cowan University.
Anna Surla (known as Bojana Surla while a student at Penrhos), who won a General Exhibition when she graduated, was the inspiration behind the Maths Mentor program. Anna completed a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and Pharmacology at the University of Western Australia and is now in her final year of medicine. Anna was the first university Maths Mentor here at Penrhos.
“In one way or another, I have been involved with the Maths department at Penrhos since 2008,” said Anna. “Up to 2011, I was a student. I lived and breathed mathematics. I had an insatiable desire to learn more than my course allowed and I was lucky to have teachers who accommodated me and made every effort to ﬁnd things for me to do. I have tutored Penrhos girls who have as much passion for mathematics as I did. Each year, I watch Maths Mentor grow and take in more girls than it did the previous year. Each year I keep coming back! I’m so excited to see what the future of the program holds.”