“It’s true happiness,” Pamela Banson says of her work. “It lifts up my spirit and inspires me to do more, to do better.” Banson opened Kumon Math and Reading Center of Hopkinton 19 years ago and has been a Kumon Method instructor since 2001. Kumon is an after-school learning program that provides enrichment and remedial instruction to students ages 3 1/2 and up. Founded in Japan in 1958, Kumon now has students in 55 countries.
After a placement test, students work through the Kumon math or reading curriculum at their own pace. Worksheets designed for independent learning are completed both at the center and at home, and the goal is for students to reach their grade level after 6-12 months. “A lot of my parents continue with the program even after their child reaches the grade level,” Banson says, “because they believe in helping their child continuously develop stronger fundamental skills.”
Banson opened her first Kumon center in Westborough, where she quickly surpassed 100 enrollees in one year. This was “a tremendous success to Kumon” and led to Banson opening a second center. “I really wanted to start a center in Hopkinton, because I live there,” Banson says. Two years later, she did just that.
Banson has a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and a master’s degree in actuarial science. Prior to opening her first center, Banson was working as an actuary. “I realized it wasn’t fulfilling for me, but then I found Kumon, and I love it,” she says. “I’m very passionate about Kumon because I believe in the philosophy of working hard and the value of practice.”
Improved test scores are not the only objective of the program. “One of the goals of Kumon is to make the students believe in themselves and work independently to become a self-learner,” Banson says. She goes on to explain that Kumon instructors want students “to be able to recognize, accept and handle [challenges]. With a lot of students, they procrastinate or break down when the work gets difficult. At Kumon, we accompany the students through the challenges and believe that they can do it.”
As students build up life skills through academic work, Banson adds, they will be better equipped to handle other challenges in their lives. “Because of the confidence inside,” she says, “they can really reach their maximum potential.” Some of Banson’s former students, now high schoolers, have come full circle and are working as assistants at the center.
With the majority of her students now performing above grade level, Banson also stresses humility. “I always remind them they represent Kumon,” she says. “I want Kumon students to be known as humble, hardworking and respectful.”
The Kumon Math and Reading Center of Hopkinton is located at 77 Main St. and currently offers both in-person and virtual classes. Individuals can visit kumon.com/hopkinton or call 508-435-0273 to schedule a free orientation. Banson also continues to operate the Kumon center in Westborough at 18 Lyman St.
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