Jamaal, 16: Instructor Maritza Gonzalez
Jamaal is an avid swimmer who likes to roller blade, spend time with his friends and challenge his kid brother at video games. In school, English is one of his favorite subjects. His mom Christene, who is dedicated to nurturing his strengths, enrolled him in the reading program at their local Kumon Math and Reading Center in New Jersey. Within two and a half years, Jamaal completed the program, notably becoming the first reading program completer since the Newark, NJ center’s opening four years ago.
“Jamaal did very well in the reading program and completing the worksheets was not a challenge for him until he reached the higher reading levels (covering critical reading and figurative language),” said his Kumon Instructor Maritza. “He slowed down, but never gave up. I reminded him of the end goal and how close he was in achieving it.”
Determined to complete the reading program, Jamaal often repeated to himself “don’t give up, you’re almost at the finish line,” he shared. “My Kumon Instructor always motivated me to do better and not to slack off.” To get through the reading program, which concludes with literary critique, Jamaal focused on the success he experienced when completing the previous levels of the program.
“Thanks to his determination and willpower, he made it to the end,” says his mom Christene. “I will say to all the other young children who want to quit, hard work and dedication has its reward at the end.”
The sky is the limit for Jamaal, who is considering a career as a computer or technical engineer, computer scientist, or web programmer. After mastering the Kumon Reading Program, he now works part-time at the same Kumon Center that gave him the encouragement needed to excel in the program. While managing school and his part-time job, he volunteers during his spare time to tutor his peers in math. With a desire to help his friends in school persevere the way he has in the Kumon Program, Jamal states, “I just want others to have the same ability to solve a problem rather than struggle.”