Hard Work and Focus Help this Young Baseball Star Dare to be Different
Jessica, 10 years old, Math Level H, Reading Level GII
The end of elementary school is a scary time for many students. From increased workloads, to preparing for the ever-dreaded middle-school transition, to dealing with the constant mounting pressure to “fit in”, paving your own path may seem scarier than ever during this time. However, that’s not the case for 10-year-old Jessica. As the only female player in her travel baseball league, she doesn’t mind enduring the laughs and looks from the opposing team, because she knows once she strikes them all out on the pitching mound, the sneering will stop. Jessica is an exceptional athlete who has stepped out of her comfort zone to pursue her passion for baseball. Practicing seven days a week for several hours a day takes more perseverance and dedication than many possess, yet Jessica keeps up with it no matter what challenges are thrown her way. Off the pitching mound, Jessica plays competitive basketball and enjoys participating in her Girl Scout troop. Unbelievably, Jessica finds time to study high school math and reading, years beyond grade level, through the Kumon Math and Reading Program.
“Kumon has always taught me to persevere even when things get difficult,” said Jessica. “I will never forget a specific game where I wasn’t pitching my best, but I worked hard and fought through it with my teammates and won the game. I believe Kumon helped me be tough in that situation.”
Jessica’s parents enrolled her in Kumon at age five, where she started out learning how to count and sound out words. In just a few short years, she has advanced to mastering linear equations and writing summary analyses on complex passages. Since she can complete her school homework in a snap, Jessica has ample time to focus on her ultimate goal: to become the first female major league player. If that doesn’t work out though, Jessica has the perfect back up plan – to become a teacher, and maybe even open a Kumon Center of her own!
“One of my favorite things about Kumon is how much it challenges me,” said Jessica. “I’m not going to lie – it can be frustrating, but when I see how far ahead of my peers I am, I know it’s all worth it.”
Jessica’s impressive accomplishments along with her hard work and focus helped get her selected to attend Kumon’s 3rd Annual Student Conference in Chicago, Illinois. There, she was able to connect with 55 other peers from around North America with a similar desire to unlock their full potential. We had a chance to talk with Jessica about her Kumon journey, and her hopes for the future.
How has Kumon helped you academically?
Kumon has made me a better Math and English student which I expected, but it has also helped me learn to use my time wisely.
How has Kumon helped you outside of the classroom?
Kumon is not always easy. That challenge has always taught me to persevere even when things get tough. I will never forget pitching in a very tough game. I wasn’t pitching my best, but I worked hard and fought through it with my teammates helping me win the game. I believe Kumon helped me be tough.
What is the most beneficial thing you’ve learned in Kumon thus far?
I’ve learned to persevere in situations that are tough. I felt so bad when I didn’t pass my last Kumon Math GII test, but it only made me want to work harder. I’m trying again very soon.
What achievements are you most proud of?
I used to be most proud of my achievements as a girl playing baseball. I can’t lie – it’s fun striking out the boys. However, now I think I’m most proud of being selected to attend the Kumon Conference. It was one of the proudest days of my life.
What advice would you give to kids just starting Kumon?
I would tell students that Kumon is hard. I would not lie to them. But I would also tell them how much Kumon has helped me in school, and how much it has helped me face new challenges. I would totally tell them to do it!
How did you feel when you found out you were selected to attend the Student Conference?
I was so excited, but nervous as well. I knew I wouldn’t know anyone at the conference, but I couldn’t wait to meet some new friends. My dad called me at school to let me know that I was selected. I wanted to scream in the principal’s office! I thought that day, “I can do anything in life.”
Who is your biggest inspiration and why?
My biggest inspiration is my daddy. He put me in Kumon even though I didn’t know why I was doing it when I first started. He always tells me, my brother, and sister that we do not have to be the smartest students in class, but we have to work the hardest. I will one day tell my students that when I’m a teacher.