Since September, these seven 4th and 5th graders have spent an hour each Monday and Wednesday evening getting ahead in, and excited about, Math. The extra time on topic is paying off. You can see their excitement about math and their sheer joy when they “get it.”

The girls meet at the Build & Rebuild Math Academy, the educational ministry of William “Buggs” Polite. Polite, who has degrees in Mathematics and education, has a knack for presenting math in a way students can grasp. Plus for this group, he keeps it fun.

At the Academy, he tutors students at an affordable rate, but working with the Katherine Johnson Scholars is part of his give back.

“I want to start a math revolution in Wichita. It can happen,” Polite adds, for extra measure.

Polite is the knowledge for the scholars, but Janice Hardeman is the energy. She approached Polite about working with the girls and personally sought out the group participants. Her daughter Jaxson, a 4th grader, is one of the excited young Scholars.

Together, the duo load the girls with self-confidence. For example, during class, the girls are addressed with the prefix “Dr.”

“We’re speaking it into existence,” says Polite.

In addition, they’re teaching the girls about careers in STEM fields — Science Technology, Engineering and Math. They have the girls excited about Hidden Figures, the movie about the Black female mathematicians in the NASA program. Katherine Johnson, who the program is named after, is the NASA mathematician played by Taraji P. Henson in the movie.

The goals of the Scholars program are to empower the girls to enter a Middle School program with a focus on STEM and to track them through high school math and on to college.

“We hope participation in this program will lead some of them to major in a STEM field and pursue and STEM career,” says Hardeman. However, Hardeman says she’ll be pleased if all the girls graduate from college.

At minimum, they expect the girls to be on the good side of the District’s horrible math scores. In the 4th grade, just 19% of USD 259’s African American students are proficient in math. By 8th grade, that number has slipped to just 13%.

The girls have received their membership in the National Society of Black Engineers and will attend the 43rd Annual NSBE Conference in Kansas City this spring. In the summer, they’ll participate in NSBE’s 3-week female-only Summer Engineering Experience for Kids Camp in Atlanta.

To raise money for these trips, the club organizers have set up a Go Fund Me page, https://www.gofundme. com/scholar-sisters-atlanta- ga-seek . In addition, they’re planning a fundraiser on Feb. 10, 2017. Retiring University of Kansas Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little will be their guest for the event.

Want to learn more about the Katherine Johnson Scholar Sisters or the Build and Rebuild Academy call (312) 497-2970 or check them out of Facebook.

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