Community Spotlight: Nick Hitsman

April 23, 2024


We are honored to highlight the work of our dedicated volunteers as we celebrate National Volunteer Month this April. Their commitment and dedication empower students to reach their potential through our programs. This month we shine our community spotlight on Nick Hitsman, a Math Motivators tutor at Goodrell Middle School in Des Moines.

1. How did you find out about Math Motivators and how long have you been involved?

I’m an accountant at Principal Financial Group and in early 2020 (prior to Covid) a communication was sent to us to attend an informational meeting about the program. I decided to attend as I had been looking for a way to get more involved with the community. By fall of 2020, I was able to get started virtually. I’ve been part of the program each year since!

2. What do you enjoy most about tutoring?

Interacting with the students! Each year my group has 1-3 consistent students and it’s a real joy spending time with them.

3. What impact(s) have you seen that tutoring has on the students?

Students go from feeling like they “have” to attend at the beginning of the year, to “willfully” attending as the weeks go on. The feeling moves from negativity towards math and school, to positivity for the hour we are working together. My hope is if they enjoy the engagement during our weekly session that some of this feeling will creep into other learning opportunities.

4. Do you have stories you can share about students you have worked with?

I don’t have any “ah-ha” moments but am impressed with the stick-to-itiveness of these students. It is easy to quit things when you are struggling. Each year, in whichever school I’m at, there are students that keep showing up…and that is half the battle. Most of these kids know more math than they give themselves credit for; it is great when things click, and they shine.

5. What makes this a good volunteer opportunity for actuaries?

From a functional standpoint, I like being able to block these 90 minutes on my calendar each week to ensure regular attendance. I probably wouldn’t sign up to volunteer as often if it was more sporadic/inconsistent. From a personal standpoint, I set out with Math Motivators looking for a way to give back but have found it very rewarding. I have grown in several ways and look forward to the weekly session during the school year.

6. Is there anything else you’d like to share about your volunteering experience?

Programs like this don’t exist without a lot of work from a lot of good people. I tutor once per week, but I know there are many who put in much more time. To the group I’d like to say thank you. Thanks for providing this opportunity for students as well as the tutors. If the students are getting half the benefit that I have then it is worth it. If anyone is thinking of getting involved but has yet to take the step, you won’t regret it!

Interested in volunteering for Math Motivators or any other Foundation program? Visit

We are so inspired by each of our volunteers. Thank you for all you do!


Categories: 30th Anniversary, Blog, Foundation News