At the beginning of the school year Jonathan started to miss school often. He was a timid fourth grader who lacked motivation in his school work as well as experienced difficulties with learning. He also often complained of stomach aches to his mom, so she took him to several doctors to identify the problem. His frequent absences from classes and New Horizons’ after school tutoring, were compounding and putting him further behind in school. His mom was on the verge of losing her job because she had taken off so much time to address Jonathan’s struggles.
Cry for Help
Super Kids Club Director, Jamail Aikens, was concerned about Jonathan and the issues he was having in the club. He urged Jonathan’s mother to set-up a meeting with the school. Once the meeting was set, Jonathan’s mother requested that Jamail attend as well. The principal, three of Jonathan’s teachers, his mother and Jamail met to review and discuss his various issues and performance. Due to a lack of official diagnosis from any of the doctor visits, it was concluded that the stomach aches were merely an excuse to avoid school.
During the meeting an action plan was put in place by the team to help Jonathan succeed; he now had a safety net to support him. A communication strategy was developed for his school work. Jamail planned to notify Jonathan’s mother if he didn’t complete his homework at Super Kids Club, so he could work on it at home. However, when the translator explained this to the mother in Spanish, she responded through the translator that she could not read. So she wouldn’t be able to understand the text, let alone help Jonathan with his assignments. She remained optimistic though and continued to speak highly of New Horizons and relayed through the interpreter how much she appreciates the support provided to Jonathan. She also mentioned that Jamail was like a second father to him.
Jamail mentioned, “At the conclusion of the meeting, the principal pulled me aside and said he was almost in tears as he read my emails, because in all of his years of administration, he had never seen anyone advocate for students like New Horizons.” Due to the language barrier that the mother had with the school, Jamail had personally assisted the mother in setting up the meeting by reaching out directly to the principal. The dedication to support a student had left an obvious impression on the principal. However, this is the way New Horizons’ staff advocates for all of its students in its programs. Club directors go to great lengths to champion their students such as attending parent-teacher meetings, helping source basic necessities, and providing spiritual support through prayer. A verse that propels Jamail is found in Hebrews 13:16 which says: “And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased” (Heb 13:16, New Living Translation).
“And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased” - Hebrews 13:16 NLT
Caught in the Act
Since then, Jonathan has missed very little school and has found a new best friend who also attends Super Kids Club. Jonathan also participates in Super Boys Club, a program where fourth and fifth graders prepare for their transition into middle school. Jamail leads the Super Boys Club Jonathan attends. They recently completed a unit about self-esteem to help children discover their own unique talents and qualities, and to value their own strengths. But also teach them that feeling special doesn’t mean feeling better than others. “It could be during this time he learned to become more introspective. However, his concern seems to be innate for others,” explained Jamail. Jonathan has worked hard to overcome his struggles, which is reflected in his higher grades. Jamail and the teachers have also witnessed a notable transformation in his attitude and self-esteem.
“We often don’t realize the impact we’re having,” Jamail reflected. When students come to Super Kids Club it’s not just their grades that improve. They grow in their confidence as they receive mentorship and learn character building themes that they can apply and put into practice. There was such a time, when Jonathan was out shopping with his family, that they came across an unhoused person who was sitting next to the store holding a sign that read, “I have two kids, need food and diapers.” Courageously, Jonathan went up to him and asked if he could help. Since the person did not speak Spanish, Jonathan explained to his parents that the person needed assistance and asked his father if they could help. Jonathan’s parents were happy to give the man a donation. “My heart told me to help,” exclaimed Jonathan!
Jonathan at the Super Kids Club computer lab.
Confidence is Key
Now when you meet Jonathan, he is upbeat and motivated to tackle his assignments. His math grade has increased mightily by 36%, improving from 60% to 96%. “I love doing math,” Jonathan mentioned. He has been attending Super Kids Club since 2017 and is on track to complete fourth grade. He is currently looking forward to participating in Super Kids Reading Camp, a four week summer program that enriches students’ reading skills and prepares them for the upcoming year. Jonathan looks towards his future and has big plans now. “My dream is to own a business like a car dealership because I like cars,” Jonathan confidently declared.
About New Horizons
New Horizons provides tutoring, mentoring and character building programs for more than 500 students annually in southwest Florida. If you would like to help students like Jonathan grow in their confidence and improve in their school work consider volunteering and/or supporting New Horizons through a donation.
Donate today: https://bit.ly/3Ixz6IV