Ben Garza

Academic Tutor

In middle school, I first discovered the joy of sharing math and science concepts with my peers, and I have followed that joy into professional tutoring. I love supporting students in their academic careers, and I hope to give students a positive impression of math and science that will help them for the rest of their lives.

I was born in San Francisco amidst snowfall and grew up in quite a few places in the East Bay. I went to Acalanes High School in Lafayette before attending UC Santa Cruz, where I spent my first two years studying astrophysics and finished with a B.S. in computer science cum laude. In my academic career, I learned that engagement and interaction with educators plays a huge role in students’ success: having a friendly, positive, and supportive educator makes learning inviting and fun.

My interest in physics began as early as the day I built my first LEGO set. Concepts of gravity, force, friction, kinematics, and more played out in real life right in front of me. My interest was reinforced after I was given a Dobsonian telescope by a family friend and began exploring the night sky, asking questions about stars and planets. At the same time, I spent hours playing with math, learning new concepts ahead of my class. I bought cheap used textbooks in trigonometry and calculus and slowly conceptualized ideas of trigonometric ratios, limits, and derivatives before I even finished middle school. The beauty of physics and calculus is that they are practiced all around us without pause and are always available for us to observe. I find that students get overwhelmed by the numbers and letters of physics and calculus and aren’t told enough that these equations and expressions are models of simple concepts and behaviors that we see all around us.

My career in education began informally in high school. I was hired by my aunt and uncle to tutor my cousin in math once a week, and in the summers I worked as a camp counselor at YMCA Camp Ravencliff. In those experiences, I discovered the social nature of education and the importance of being mindful about the emotional and social context surrounding each meeting. My career in education continued as an instructor for a LEGO engineering company, where I taught children aged 5-11 engineering concepts. I learned through these camps that learning is much easier when you are having fun while doing it, and as an educator I strive to make my teaching as fun as it is effective.

I believe that learning is a purely personal and active process in which students learn not directly from the information presented to them by the teacher, but from their own exploration of the material and connections made in their own brain. I build my tutoring approach around supporting a student’s personal learning experience by emphasizing involvement, discussion, and collaboration. I aim to make my students feel respected and engaged and not simply like an audience member.

I love playing games, particularly Settlers of Catan and Pokemon GO; reading science fiction and fantasy; and picnicking outside my home in the forests of the Santa Cruz mountains. I am also a proud member of the LGBT+ community.

Subjects Tutored:

Academic Calculus
Academic Physics
Academic Computer Science
AP Physics 1
AP Physics 2
AP Physics C
AP Computer Science A
AP Computer Science Principles
AP Calculus AB
AP Calculus BC


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