20 Grads: Exponential Growth at Jumoke

20 Grads in 20 Days: June marks a huge anniversary in Connecticut. Twenty years ago this month, Governor John Rowland signed the law allowing public charter schools to exist in the state of Connecticut! To celebrate, we’re profiling 20 public charter school graduates every day for the first 20 days of June. Enjoy reading about our charter schools and the stellar kids they're educating.

For Jordan Bernard, an 8th grader at Jumoke Academy Honors SMaRT, a middle school academy that promotes classroom and enrichment activities that facilitate scientific exploration, graduating this year is the culmination of four years of hard work catching up and rising to the top.

His biggest challenge was in 5th grade when he switched to Jumoke from another school. “I came into the school in October, and I remember on my first day I had to write three full books of notes to catch up. That night I stayed up until 11-12 o’clock doing homework… I wasn’t used to that.”

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He credits the support of the Jumoke staff for helping him get settled and become successful. “As the years went on, the teachers kept encouraging me to do better and better… this will my first year I’m going to be getting high honors all year round.”

In particular, Jordan had a lot of help from Ms. Simpson, an academic assistant. “She really motivates me. She always gives me speeches and just tells me what’s the right thing to do.”

Jordan’s parents also played a huge role, pushing him to always do his best. “At first I wasn’t as good in my education, I was slacking off in piano, but they told me, you shouldn’t waste your talents, it’s a God-given gift. I really thank them for telling me that.”

That hard work paid off when Jordan won a scholarship to attend Avon Old Farms, a nearby preparatory school. According to Jordan, making it happen wasn’t easy, but it was completely worth the time and effort.

“When my dad first told me I had to write five essays, my mind was blown,” he said. “I remember back in January, February, I was stressed out doing the SSAT, writing all the essays, going to all the interviews, and then still coming back to school after that - I think that was really stressful. The fact that after that I was able to get the scholarship and all the hard work paid off. I think that’s my proudest moment as a student.”

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8th grade year wasn’t just about getting into a good high school though. Jordan also placed second in Jumoke’s annual spelling bee.

“All three years at Jumoke I never really cared about the spelling bee, but I was like, this is my last year, I really want to win,” he said.

The school started out with the classroom spelling bee, and after winning that he went to the all-school spelling bee and won again. Finally, he made it to the district spelling bee with all three Jumoke campuses. He lost on phoenix, coming in second.

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Outside of the classroom, Jordan stayed competitive by playing basketball, just like his hero, the great Michael Jordan. MJ’s work ethic is something Jordan tries to emulate every day: “When he was in high school, he didn’t even make the varsity or JV team and he had to work really hard. It showed me that if I really work hard I can get to what I want to do in life.”

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Long term, Jordan wants to be either a civil or chemical engineer. “I love the fact that you’re able to build roads, bridges, and everyday things that people need to travel everywhere.” The profession will allow him to make use of his favorite subject, Math. “I find numbers come easier to me than words,” Jordan said. “Math is straightforward, you’re either right or you’re wrong.”

As he heads off to high school, Jordan has some advice to incoming students: Be comfortable, make a lot of friends, and develop time management skills. “The students around this school will give you a lot of help and so will the teachers.”

That sense of community is what helped Jordan be successful, and what he believes will help future students as well. “This school really encourages you to do your best at all times – to be responsible, respectful, and ready to learn.”

As he takes those values and his positive attitude to Avon Old Farms, the sky’s the limit for his potential success.

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Mike is the former Deputy Communications Director for Connecticut for the Northeast Charter Schools Network.
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20 Grads: Exponential Growth at Jumoke
20 Grads: Exponential Growth at Jumoke
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