June 29, 2021
Category: ChampsVolunteers

Kids Count on Dr. Qiji (Jim) Zhu

Dr. Qiji (Jim) Zhu accepting his 2021 Champ award

At the 14th Annual Champs Celebration, presented by Kalsec, Dr. Qiji (Jim) Zhu was honored with a 2021 Champ Award which was sponsored by Miller Davis Company and Schupan. Executive Director James Devers presented the award.

A child’s success in school and life often hinges on the opportunity to have a one-on-one relationship with a caring adult. It’s one of the five CIS basics, something every child needs and deserves. This relationship can make the difference between a student staying in school or becoming one of the 7,000 students dropping out of school each day nationwide. For the past four years, Dr. Jim Zhu has been that caring adult for a number of students at Milwood Magnet Middle School.

As Professor of Mathematics at Western Michigan University, Dr. Zhu noticed that some of his incoming students didn’t have the basic math skills they needed to be successful in college. He decided to be part of the solution and reach out to students before they arrived in his classroom.

So for the past four years, this CIS volunteer has faithfully been supporting students in their math efforts. The students have looked forward to Dr. Zhu’s weekly visits to the Lunchtime Homework Lab. CIS Site Coordinator Missy Best initiated this “drop-in” for academic support based on feedback from teachers, parents, and students. One student who dropped in to get help from Dr. Jim said, “He makes it easy to understand stuff. I’m coming back.” And he did. Again and again.

Once schools went online, Dr. Zhu continued working with CIS staff to provide seamless support to students. In the beginning, he provided math support in a virtual group setting. He’s now providing one-on-on tutoring and students are responding positively. Seeing his familiar face buoys their spirits. They work on math together, and sometimes students steer the conversation away from numbers and just want to talk.

CIS After School Coordinator Shannon Jones says that Dr. Zhu’s presence is as helpful as his math knowledge. “He demonstrates patience and compassion and exemplifies the growth mind-set we want to promote in our students.”

Students he has helped along the way will tell you that his mantra is: practice, practice, practice and don’t ever give up. Good lessons to impart for both math and life.

Dr. Zhu, thank you for empowering kids to realize their full potential in school and beyond.

We popped a quiz on Dr. Zhu so come back here Thursday to learn how he did!

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