What are parents and students saying about your Academy?

  • " ...At his school, Alex was the team winner and National Honor Roll. He got his certificates and medals today. Thank you for everything you do for Sara and Alex! Because of you, they enjoy math and have gained so much confidence in their math skills. "   ---Sara and Alex's mom. Dec, 2021

  • " Thank you so much for all your efforts helping me qualify for Mathcounts Nationals this year. I have learned so much in your classes, and they really helped me prepare for Mathcounts and the AMCs. The virtual events for nationals included a lot of fun competitions, and they sent us packages for each of the events. My favorites were a graphing calculator and a buzzer for the unofficial coundown round. It was nice to be with other people who have the same interests. This year's virtual National Competition was truly a unique experience, and I loved interacting and working with other students who also love math. I also enjoyed getting to know everyone else on the Alabama team, and I have learned a lot by working with them. It has inspired me to keep learning and working hard, and I hope to go again next year. "   ---Mina. May, 2021

  • " I wanted to share this with you Mr Kong that Sarrinah gained +44 points in her test in math from last time, ... Big change. Her teacher is proud of her .. thank you so much for everything!"   ---Sarrinah's mom. May, 2021

  • " Thank you for the kind words for Mina. Learning in your class really motivated her throughout this year, and literally helped her so much at the tournaments. I cannot believe how much she has grown this year! She calls herself a proud "mathlete" now. "   ---Mina's mom. May, 2020

  • "... I'm a proud Vestavia Hills Rebel, a proud former Pizitz Pirate, and an immensely proud graduate of the Birmingham Math Academy. I have so much to thank you for. A major component of my appeal as a college applicant was my success in math competitions. I definitely have my math teachers from over the years to thank. They did familiarize me with the tools of mathematics, but it was you who was more than a teacher-you were and are a coach. You develop your students into problem-solvers and make them adept at the art of applying simple concepts in complex ways, a lifelong skill. You care deeply about your students' successes, whether that's in the form of trophies won on the tournament stage or medals earned in fencing competitions. In 6th grade, I didn't place at a single tournament. In 7th grade, when I first enrolled as a student at the Birmingham Math Academy, I placed 5 times. Since the 8th grade, I've placed 25 times. Your care and efforts for your students shaped me into the successful competitor I've become. As a result, I will be a proud Vanderbilt Commodore in Fall 2020.... "   ---Basim. February, 2020

  • "...He was a bit sad when he got home and was talking about missing you next year. I wanted to tell you what he said last night... "I want to be just like Mr. Kong when I grow up." I smiled and asked him what he meant, and he talked about what an incredible teacher you are and how you make learning so fun. Thank you for many wonderful years teaching Luke. You have taught him so much. He made a 36 on the math part of his ACT :) and we attribute that to you, so thank you. "   ---Luke's mom. May, 2019

  • "Roshni took PSAT from her school 1st time this year. Her score is 1480 out of 1520. Math perfect score 760/760 Next year (11th grade) in October she will compete for National Merit Scholarship... I am really very happy, she goes to your academy. It helps a lot to do the school math. "   ---Roshni's dad. Dec, 2018

  • "Dear Mr. Kong - I just wanted to say thank you for offering another amazing semester. It is so funny to see Mayu excited and satisfied at receiving a score any less than 95 -"I didn't die! I got 82!!" This is the only challenging class Yuji and Mayu are taking now, and I'm glad to see them grow while having fun. On the first day of this semester, Yuji came back home and said, "I've forgotten how enjoyable BMA is, even though the class is real hard! Mr.Kong has a witty sense of humor and classmates are hilarious!" "   ---Mayu and Yuki's Mom. Dec, 2018

  • "Thank you for giving me a chance to master a talent that so few people have: the ability to problem-solve. I would be nowhere nearly as talented at math as I am today if it weren't for your putting in hours' worth of labor and dedication in preparing the material for our classes, for keeping a comfortable learning environment and for giving up opportunity to shine in the real world. ... the professionalism and success of your program through the years have been and will be unparalleled and unmatched for many, many years..."   ---Basim. May, 2018

  • "I am very grateful for the time and thought you put into BMA. It is clear to me that you put your heart into the school and not just your teaching expertise, and that our kids are influenced by both."   ---Teddy and Annie's Dad. May, 2018

  • "Thank you for the wonderful math instruction and guidance throughout this year! ... both Mayu and Yuji are invited to the Duke TIP's grand recognition ceremony next Monday, May 21, because of their math scores of SAT. We think this was possible because of your instructions at BMA. We sincerely and greatly appreciate your time and effort."   ---Mayu and Yuki's Mom. May, 2018

  • "I was apprehensive starting our daughter Anvitha at academy last year. She really loves math classes there. In fact, both Akshat and Anvitha comes home really excited and happy after every class. We love the fact that we have such a great Academy in a small city like Birmingham that is nurturing kids problem solving skills in a great environment."   ---Akshat and Anvitha's Mom. May, 2018

  • "Thanks for helping our kids. Amith is so excited that he got selected to participate in State MathCounts. First thing he mentioned to me when he came out was, 'Amma Mr. Kong class definitely helped me a lot'. Congrats to all of your students who did very well."   ---Amith's Mom. Feb. 2018

  • "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. Feb. 2015

  • "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. June. 2012

  • "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. March. 2012

  • "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. Feb. 2012

  • "Kelvin told us that he enjoyed and liked your class very much. Thanks for providing this nice class!"   ---Kelvin's Dad. Feb. 2012

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 that all kids could follow his or her steps in class, and fast learning students will not benefit as much as the other students in the same 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 passion. 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 11th grade, but there is not really a minimum age limit. Younger kids could join us if they pass the entrance exam.

How much do you charge?

I charge $30 for a 90 min class. This is low compared to the other math schools in the area, and I have kept the same low rate for over 10 years. Please 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 math education 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 at UAB. 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, and put them into groups with similar background. 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 in-person classes were hosted at Suite 102, 2170 Clearbrook Road, Hoover, AL, 35226. We hold all classes online via zoom meeting since 2020. Please see the calendar for class schedules.

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/verbal 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.

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. When a class is missed, class materials and lecture recording will be provided for students to study at home (with fees paid). Please do not distribute the class material outside the math academy. 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.

How could I pay for the tuition?

Students joining my program are required to pay by semester, as this will save both your time and mine. 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 $100/hour for private lessons. I also offer private lessons taught by experienced teaching assistants. The fee is $50/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 $20, which could be redeemed on books and tuition. There is no limit to how much referral credit 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.