What are parents and students saying about you and your classes?

  • "You got the best students and they got the best teacher in town!!! Congratulations on these wins and many other past wins!!"   ---Tanya and Ashna's Dad
  • "Annie told us she liked your class, and she thought the way you solved the problems was the best she ever knew. So we will definitely take her to your class every weekend from now on!"   ---Annie's Mom
  • "Kelvin told us that he enjoyed and liked your class very much. Thanks for providing this nice class!"   ---Kelvin's Dad
  • "Thanks, Kong Wei! What a great job you've done! Her dad and I, and I believe; all the other parents, appreciate your effort on the teaching…Besides the math, as a parent, I have learned a lot from your teaching attitude, enthusiasm, well-prepared teaching materials, and timely teacher-parent response. All together, I would say thank you again and expect more success in your future teaching."   ---Debbie's Mom
  • "Math class was fun, and I learned a lot of things. You're a nice, strict, funny, and awesome teacher. In Atlanta, I doubt I will find a math class as good as this one or a teacher as good as you…You know, at first, I was reluctant to go to math class, but after hearing about how good it was from my friends, I tried it out and I loved it! Thank you, Mr. Kong, for motivating me and encouraging me."   ---FeiFei
Believe it or not, the following is what I heard in class:
  • "Can I have more homework please?"   --- Fencing Eric
  • "Can we do another one (practice)?"   ---David
  • "Oh no, it is break time already?!"   ---Jack, Eric

Is math really an important subject for kids?

Reading and math are the most important tools for kids not only in their school age (elementary to graduate school) but also later in their lives. No matter what the kids do in the future, whether it is economy, science, engineering, or business, these two subjects are the foundation for success in anything. But US education system may not prepare our kids well for their future. In 2005, the National Academies released a report with the following information:
  • Percentage of undergraduates receive their degrees in natural science or engineering in several countries: 38% (South Korea); 47% (France);50% (China); 67% (Singapore). In the United States, the corresponding figure is 15%.
  • 34% of PhD degree in natural sciences and 56% of engineering PhDs in the United States are awarded to foreign-born students.
The Third International Mathematics and Science Study identified the challenge: Many American elementary and middle school students are not learning the math that will help them succeed in the 21st century. The Birmingham Math Academy is founded to help close the gap between where we are and where we need to be in our neighborhood.

Is it too early to start math class at 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades?

Absolutely not. The kids are very actively involved in learning in the primary grades. An early head start will gain tremendous advantage. As they lead their peers, they gain confidence and pride, which will in turn promote their learning interest. This forms a good cycle. I could help your kids to gain an edge in their future.

What is your teaching philosophy?

  • Math can be fun to learn.
  • Interest is the best teacher.
  • Practice makes perfect.

What do you do differently from the school teacher?

In schools, teachers have to make sure the average kids could follow his or her steps in class, and fast learning students will not benefit as much as the average student in the classroom. My classes offer systematic teaching and training for gifted students. The pace in class is faster than normal classes. My goal is to foster their interest in math, to solidify their fundamental math knowledge, to polish and sharpen their math approaches and skills, and to expose them to creative problem solving.
Having been through both Chinese education and US graduate school, I used to think that US education was way better than Chinese education. With that in mind, we did not bother to teach our kids anything at home, until my older son joined the math team in the 5th grade (9 kids in total). I was quite excited. As I love math, and I do want my son to continue my interest. I looked at his homework closely, talked to him, and got to know his math level. I was absolutely shocked. I talked to my wife a couple of times, in private, of course, "If a kid in math team knows such little math, what about the rest of the students? How could they handle future challenges?" No doubt US education has its advantage, but it may not be better than Chinese education in everything. US school system promotes creativity, research ability and hand on experience, while it may be lacking in terms of laying solid foundations and promote comprehensive understanding. I will blend in some good Chinese learning experience in our kids while they benefit from the US school system on the other aspects.

How do you teach?

My plan is to systematically expose the kids to all important aspects of creative problem solving, but this can only be achieved step by step. You cannot expect the kid take a class once and remember everything forever. I will teach a topic first at an easy, entry level, covering basic concept and skills, and then come back to it in the near future for a few more times, add on something new on the same topic, one at a time. The knowledge and skills are fortified through repetition and practice. I will help them to discover the most efficient, creative path (the short-cut) to solve a problem in addition to standard methods.

Is it boring to learn math? I want my kids to have fun while they are young.

Not at all! In fact, math can be fun to learn. I hate to hear stories about parents forcing their kids to learn (like Tiger Mom). I always try to promote their interest in math by using fun math puzzles, games, incentive, and plenty of praise. As I said earlier, interest is the best teacher. What I do here is to lead them to enjoy math while laying a solid foundation for them to build on later.

What grade do you teach?

I am currently teaching math targeting kids from 3th to 10th grade.

How much do you charge?

I charge $25 for a 90 min class. This is low compared to the other math schools in the area. Keep in mind that my class size is small, by doing so kids get more individual attentions and in class interaction. Please also consider the fact that for each lesson, I spend hours carefully planning and preparing the material. I hold math class at first because I need to teach my own kids. Now I do it mainly out of interest and to promote youth math in our community.

What is your credential in teaching math?

I actively took part in math and physics tournaments throughout my school years. I hold several degrees, including BA in English, BE, MS, and PhD degree in Engineering. Math was an important tool in my daily research. More importantly, I love math and have gained considerable experience teaching kids. And lastly, the achievements of my students are my best credentials.

The kids from the same grade may be at different levels. How do you address this issue?

All kids entering my elementary math programs are required to pass an entrance exam. Middle school students from math team automatically qualify. This ensures I recruit the most talented math kids into my classes. In addition, the material I prepared mainly focus on the fundamental, basic concepts and skills required for math competition at appropriate level. I always have more challenging material in the same topics for those students who are willing and capable to handle more. My teaching is modified according to feedback through in class interaction and homework. Kids consistently outperforming his peers may be promoted to higher level classes.

Where and when will the class take place?

The classes are hosted at Suite 102, 2170 Clearbrook Road, Hoover, AL, 35226. Please see the calendar for class schedules.

What is the Class size?

I try to keep the class size small, to allow for more individual attentions and effective learning experience. I could hold up to 18 students in the class room, but the actually class size is usually smaller. If more students want to join, I will either put them on a waiting list or split one class into two classes. I feel the teaching is effective and I could handle them well for this size.

Is there any requirement in classroom behavior?

I want to provide a comfortable learning environment for the students. And I do understand that kids are kids, and they are all special. I am easy on them when their behaviors are not disturbing other students, and will remind them to concentrate on lectures if I see their minds drifted somewhere else. To make it safe for all students, no physical attack of any kind is tolerated in class or during break. I have stressed this in class and please also talk to your kids about it. For first violation of class rules, I will give oral warning and reminder. Frequent violations will be brought to the attention of parents. I do reserve the right to dismiss any kids from my math program if his or her behavior is disturbing the class order and affecting the other kids. In such cases, fees for remaining paid classes will be refunded.

What if I could not send or pick up my kids on time? Can I wait for the kids during class time?

Please be on time for class, and pick up your kids promptly after designated class time. For safety of our kids, I cannot leave them along in the classroom. In the meanwhile, I often have to clean up the classroom, prepare printout for the next class. So please be on time to pick the students up. On the other hand, I understand there is emergency situations where parents may be held by unexpected happening. In such cases, please inform me about the situation as soon as possible so I could arrange things accordingly. Kids are required to be picked up within 15 min after the class is dismissed. After that, there will be $15 + $1/min late fee charges. Parents are welcome to wait for class in the waiting room.

In case my kid miss a class, could it be made up?

Due to my busy schedule, I cannot make up lessons for individual kid if he or she has to miss one class for your own reason. If there are two classes of the same level, the students are welcome to make it up in the other classes if space permit. When a class is missed, class materials will be provided for students to study at home (with fees paid). No refund for missed classes. In case the kids have any questions in the material, we have question and answers section at the beginning of each class. The material for missed class will be emailed to parents upon request. Please do not distribute the class material outside the math academy.

How could I pay for the tuition?

Students joining my program from the beginning of each semester are required to pay by semester, as this will save both your time and mine. For those who joined the class in the middle of the semester, they should pay for the number of remaining classes all together. There is a $10 late fee/week for payment received after the payment deadline at the beginning of each semester. I have a 5% discount for household with two or more children attending my math classes (5% off for all children's tuition from the same family). If for any reason your kids need to quit during any time of the semester, I will refund the fees for the remaining classes without any questions. Returned checks will incur $25 additional charge on top of the amount due.

Do you offer private tutoring?

I do offer private lessons. Private lessons provide unique one on one learning environment. This is effective to target at a particular weak spot of a child, or to further promote a child's talent on a particular subject. The private lesson is tailored to each individual child's need. I charge $60/hour for private lessons. I also offer private lessons taught by experienced teaching assistants. The fee is $40/hour.

Is there any credit for referring new students?

Yes there is. My math program grows rapidly as many families referred new students to my class. I appreciate the trust and regard this as the best recognition of my hard work. To say thank you to those who referred students to me, I set up a referral program. Each referral will earn your child $10 Math Bucks, which could be redeemed on toys, books and tuition. There is no limit to how much Math Bucks you could earn.

Could you please write a recommendation letter for my kids?

It will be my great pleasure to write such letters for my students. Please follow the following guidelines to make this process go smoothly.
1. I could only write a recommendation letter for students who are currently enrolled in the math academy, and have been here for more than a year. This will ensure I have known your kids well enough to present the best aspects of your children.
2. Please give me at least one week advanced notice before the deadline so I have time to perfect the letter.
3. All recommendation letters will be send directly to schools/institutes that requested the letter. I can not send the letter to parents or third parties.

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