Instructor Spotlight: Laisa Mathissen
Laisa Mathissen, Instructor of Kumon Math and Reading Center of Fairfield – Downtown
4,826 miles. That’s the distance between Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Westport, Conn. It’s also the distance travelled in Laisa Mathissen’s journey with Kumon. Laisa was 9-years-old, living in Rio de Janeiro, when her parents enrolled her in Kumon. She remained enrolled for six years and credits the discipline, time management, and organization skills she possesses today to those years spent as a Kumon Student.
Laisa’s academic studies eventually led her to London where she studied economics. After briefly working in the finance industry, Laisa and her husband moved to Connecticut in 2010. Around the same time, Kumon had a unique way of re-entering her life.
“My stepchildren needed a little extra help with math,” said Laisa. “I recalled the success that I had with Kumon as a child and told my husband that we should enroll them. Shortly after enrolling, I realized that it could be a good job opportunity for me as well and asked the Instructor if she needed help.”
Laisa worked at the Kumon Center for about a year-and-a-half as a center assistant. Because of her background in finance, she primarily worked with the higher-level math students. She eventually started working with newly enrolled students and was exposed to many of the business aspects of running a Kumon Franchise.
“After about a year or so, I realized that Kumon didn’t just have to be a job for me. I could turn Kumon into a career,” said Laisa. “After experiencing Kumon as a student and as a parent, I knew that the method worked, but then seeing how the center was run as an employee, I was immediately drawn to the idea of becoming a small business owner.”
Laisa saw the potential with Kumon and wanted to give other children the same opportunities she had. For the past eight years, she has had two unique advantages that have helped her daily. Firstly, she was a Kumon Student, so she knows what they are going through every step of the way. She has experienced their joys, successes, failures and fears. Second, she is a Kumon Parent herself.
“My two older children were enrolled in Kumon, but now my youngest, six and four years old, are also enrolled,” said Laisa. “Parents see that I’m not just passionate about what I do, but that I also believe in the product enough to have my own children enrolled in the program. That helps me build a relationship with my parents because I can give him tips not just as an Instructor, but also as a parent.”
What is it about being an Instructor you enjoy the most?
As an Instructor, I like that I am in my student’s academic career for the long-run. I want my students to know that we are on this journey for a long time, that way they can trust me. Seeing them go from below grade level, to grade level or beyond is so satisfying. I enjoy being able to offer this growth opportunity for my students.
What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned as a Kumon Instructor?
No two children are alike. I already knew this in theory, having four children of my own. When you are working with an early learner, you must be flexible. The key to success is being flexible to adapt to a child’s learning condition. Once I truly grasped this, I could see each of my students in a different light, and their strengths were more evident.
Can you describe an instruction moment where you made an impact on a student?
Luckily, there are many moments I can recall. Most recently, we had a second grade math student who came to us because he was really struggling in school. His parents weren’t confident when I gave him a low starting point, but they luckily took a leap of faith with me. I was so elated when I heard he recently won a math competition in his class. This was a very special moment in this child’s life. It was the moment he realized he can do anything if he sets his mind to it. Moving forward, he can apply this method to virtually anything in his life, whether it’s cooking, learning a musical instrument, or learning a trade.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
In my spare time, I really try to invest in my health. Exercise is a priority and it makes it even better when I can do it with my friends or family. I also really enjoy playing with my daughters and love to spend as much time with them as possible.
What is a fun fact about you that people may not know?
Every Friday, I play in a soccer league and take Bikram yoga (hot yoga) classes. When I’m not lost in the next good read from my book club, I love binge-watching shows on Netflix with my husband, especially political dramas. I recently started painting, which I find to be very relaxing!
Learn more about the Kumon Franchise opportunity and discover additional franchisee success stories.