MathWiz Academy CEO determined to make learning maths a breeze

MathWiz Academy CEO determined to make learning maths a breeze

Observer writer

Monday, February 01, 2021

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Mikiela Gonzales-Campbell always had an inkling that her passion was teaching but what she did not expect was that this passion would lead to the opening of an academy in the midst of a pandemic.

Gonzales-Campbell, 26 years of age, stepped into her purpose during a time when the future of education seemed bleak. She started MathWiz Tutors in May 2020 as something she would do in her spare time, because she was already employed at another educational entity. But by September of that year, Mikiela became a full-time entrepreneur and the brand was renamed MathWiz Academy.

According to Gonzales-Campbell, maths was always the one subject she did not have to practise much to do well. “It almost came natural, then when I went to sixth form, I realised not only was I good at maths, but I had something special in regards to teaching maths,” she said.

However, the low esteem in which some people held teaching discouraged her away from the profession for some time. But, she considers teaching to be one of the best careers, and is pressing on.

Mikiela credits her passion for wanting others to be better at maths as the main factor behind MathWiz. “Right throughout school I could not understand why it is that the majority of my class was really bad at maths, and then when I started to help my peers, I realised that they got it when I explained, and that was the first light bulb for me,” said Gonzales-Campbell.

This experience, along with others, such as being an assistant lecturer at Pre-University School, led her to pursue her dream full-time, and opened the door for her to give back, something she enjoys doing. This was done through hosting free online marathons, and acknowledging the challenges being faced by teachers and students due to the novel coronavirus pandemic and the need for help.

“The first day I had those marathons there were only three persons on the call, and by the time it [marathon] was finished, I had over 300 students on the call. Word started to spread about how I was able to teach all of them,” she said. This led to her being called MathWiz, which is how she got the name of her company.

The marathon, driven by her philanthropic nature, allowed for parents and students to experience her talent of imparting knowledge, and in no time, they quickly became her students under the MathWiz brand.

Armed with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Actuarial Science and a master's in economics, both from The University of the West Indies (UWI), Gonzales-Campbell now tutors over 600 students over four days. At the end of the three-hour duration, at least 500 would still be on the calls, which are interactive.

She believes that maths can be one of the more frustrating subjects for many students. Hence, her methods include colour-coding, something she now affectionately calls the MathWiz method, and is hoping to trademark and translate into a workbook that will aid other educators in imparting tricky maths concepts to their students.

“I try to present a picture to them even before I start teaching, I walk them through the story of what we are about to do. I interact with them as if they were with me in a physical space, it translates to students that I actually enjoy teaching,” said Gonzales-Campbell.

With her belief that students are not naturally bad at maths, but have just had bad maths experiences, Gonzales-Campbell works even harder to make the experience better for her students. “It is your [teacher's] job to be patient; it is your job to understand that every child does not learn the same way, no matter how quickly you want them to get the concept,” she suggested.

She goes the extra mile to know her students, understand their learning styles and exercises compassion and patience when needed, in order to change their experience with maths. “...It forces me to actually challenge myself to be more creative. When they are in class and they are getting it, I feel motivated. It was a blessing to see the joy of a fourth-form student, who recently got an 83 per cent grade in maths, proudly saying that was her first time seeing grades like that in maths since grade 7.”

“MathWiz Academy becoming an academy, for me, means that it is an alternative to traditional schooling, so I am hoping that by the end of this year, with the help of current potential investors, it will become an e-learning platform that will be fully science, technology, engineering and mathematics [STEM]-focused,” Gonzales-Campbell dislcosed.

Gonzales-Campbell hopes to one day partner with the Ministry of Education to help other teachers across the island in how they teach maths. She is adamant that one day MathWiz will become an officially recognised educational institution.

“My vision is that, in three years' time, MathWiz is going to be the number one STEM online academy in the Caribbean,” Gonzales-Campbell said, her voice laced with confidence and excitement.

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