be_ixf;ym_202404 d_17; ct_50 YES! I want to make a difference TODAY!

Kainat’s journey to make math make sense

One of my first days in my reading class, a sixth-grade student, Annalise*, stood out to me as an intelligent, kindhearted leader. She followed all the rules and expectations but also had fun and made friends easily. She was organized, all her folders were separated by color and subject, and she had all of her pencils and pens separated in different cute pencil bags. She was dedicated to learning, and that was apparent by the effort she put into her work. 

However, Annalise didn’t catch on to math as easy as writing and reading. Math was her least favorite subject. She hated that there was always a right or wrong answer. She was a reflective student, and she liked to put thoughts into writing, so math was understandably frustrating. I had to find a way to teach Annalise math in a way that made sense to her. I wanted to create a way that involved steps, to make it feel like a puzzle and more analytical.

When Annalise started the school year, her STAR score was well below target. Together, we made small goals to get her to the next level. For example, one of the goals we set was to target the categories she had the lowest percent on. Something we worked on and she picked up really quick was solving for variables. Annalise is very goal oriented, so making small goals drove her to try harder in math, and she learned to push past the frustration. Through this new method, I saw Annalise’s STAR Score jump up to the 20 Percentile Rank. Percentile Rank scores range from one to 99 and express student ability relative to the scores of other students in the same grade nationwide.

Annalise is very humble and doesn’t really like to talk about her achievements. Although she tends to hide her excitement when it comes to improvement, when I told her about the new scores, she jumped up with excitement as she could now see the real results of her hard work. She has so many big aspirations and has made a huge impact on me through her hard work. We’ve talked about how this world is hard to navigate as a Black person, and being a Black female only increases the challenges. I know there are days where I frustrate her with my ever-increasing workload, but deep down she knows that this is what it takes to succeed. I hope that because of what I have taught her, she can continue to apply this work ethic throughout her entire education.

Annalise is an exceptional young leader who will empower anyone she speaks with. I know that with whatever career path she will take, she will continue to make an impact on people’s lives.

*Name changed to protect the privacy of the student

Click here to learn more about how AmeriCorps members support students.

Kainat HeadshotAbout the author: Kainat Lungani serves as a City Year Milwaukee AmeriCorps member. Kainat is a proud alum of the University of Cincinnati and has a bachelor’s in neuroscience, with a focus in neurobiology. When asked why she serves, Kainat said, “I serve to build strong leaders and have the impact that my counselors and teachers had on me when I moved to the U.S. 11 years ago. I serve to be a positive outlet for students. I serve to fight the inequities that exist within the school system, so our future leaders can have the opportunities and resources they deserve. I serve in the hopes of one day fighting for the education rights of girls in Pakistan.”

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