Meredith Jones From providing parents and students with the best customer experience possible to being the encouraging and inspiring leader your Instructors deserve, there’s a lot you can do as a local business owner to establish Mathnasium as a positive presence in the area you serve. With 140 smiling students currently enrolled at Mathnasium of Southlake, TX and a demonstrated record of high customer satisfaction and employee morale, it’s clear that Center Director Meredith Jones knows a thing or two about building a successful center through hard work, integrity, honesty… and fun! In this series, we’ll share Meredith’s insights on building strong professional relationships that leave parents, students, employees and others feeling great about being a part of the Mathnasium family.

Student Satisfaction

As Meredith and her staff work with students, they try to create an environment with the perfect balance of fun and productivity. “We’re not a super strict learning center, and I let both parents and kids know this when they sign up. The kids are going to work, get things done and make progress, but they’re also going to have fun while doing so,” Meredith says. The center is peppered with engaging math-related activities for students: Problems of the Week, estimation jars, and a “Nerd Award” for students who earn A’s on math tests in school, to name a few.

Southlake Problems of the Week, Estimation Jar, Nerd Award

To help their students stay on track, each session begins with creating a game plan for the day. “It’s part of their routine and I think they like it because it gives them structure. Basically, we sit with them and write down what we think they can reasonably accomplish that day. Every student is different—some kids do 20 pages every time they come in, so we’ll write longer game plans for them,” she explains. “We do try to not put too many things on the game plan, because I don’t want to create one they can’t accomplish. They feel really good when they finish everything on the list!”

While students are held accountable for items on their game plan, Meredith is lenient when need be. “If kids get legitimately stuck on something and it’s taking longer than we thought for them to finish it, that’s fine. I do tell parents that they didn’t finish the game plan that day because they were focused [on mastering a concept]. Of course, if the student’s lagging, then the parents are going to know about it too. If I tell them that their child’s performance was a little iffy today, the parent will talk to the student and set him straight.”

To motivate her students and reinforce a positive center culture, Meredith likes to acknowledge kids’ successes both in and out of Mathnasium. “I know when they have big games or major tests going on… things like that. We have a brag board that’s a lot of fun. Kids grab whatever color of chalk they like and they write something good they accomplished on the brag board.” She also keeps the rewards cabinet well stocked with enticing items. “I try to get different stuff, like novelty candy, gift cards (Game Stop and iTunes work best), and just random weird toys. We have these giant paper clips that they love. And, I have a ‘sale shelf’ for the things I’m trying to get rid of.

Southlake Brag Board

Southlake Rewards Cabinet
“Another great motivator is theme day,” Meredith continues. “Our Instructors have great ideas for theme days, and now every day has a different theme. Kids are really excited to come in and see what the day’s theme is, because they can get extra stamps on their cards for random things. For example, we have color days… we pick a color and students get a stamp if they’re wearing that color. Perfect page day is one of my favorites—students get two stamps per page if they do it perfectly the first time around. It helps a lot of the kids who tend to make careless mistakes.”

To encourage students’ love and appreciation of math, Meredith likes to plan fun events for them… and her Instructors are always eager to join in. Check out these pictures from Pi Day 2013:

Southlake Pie Instructor

Southlake Instructor Pie Face

Southlake Pi

With their kind demeanors and up-for-anything attitudes, “the Instructors do a great job of motivating the kids!” Instructors at Mathnasium of Southlake take a team approach as they help students stay on track and keep them engaged with the material. They pay careful attention to the noise and activity levels at the center and are quick to act if the space gets overly loud or boisterous. While there are over 100 students enrolled, Meredith and her staff make a strong effort to know each student and his or her work habits. “We’ll definitely adapt our approach to the students present that day. We know that when certain students are here, we’re going to have to be more of the disciplinarian type. But really, most of our kids are so good at being focused,” Meredith tells us. “They really want to do well! Sometimes the Instructors show the kids an alternate way to solve problems… they’ll ask, ‘Do you want to see another way to do this? A faster way?’ A lot of times the students love it, because well, if that’s the way we’re doing it, then it must be better than what they’ve been doing! I find that if you tell them consistently that they’re doing well and keep praising them, most of the time, that really does help keep them focused.”

Students at Mathnasium of Southlake respond well to the environment Meredith and her staff have created, and “they’re a community in and of themselves,” Meredith is happy to report. “Some of our students were friends before Mathnasium, and they’ve made new friends at the center as well. They like that they can call the Instructors by their first names and that Instructors joke around with them when they first come in or while grading their work.” Creating a welcoming and inspiring learning environment for students has also paid off in terms of retention and referrals—“students invite their friends to come, and a lot of the kids are on 12-month contracts but keep on coming once their contracts are over.”

Clearly, Meredith’s passion for her work and Mathnasium’s objectives are the driving forces behind her caring-yet-firm approach to teaching and student relationships. “The coolest thing about working here is that you can meet students on their level and help them—plus you can actually see results! You just can’t do that in a classroom. There’s always going to be somebody left behind, or someone who’s ahead and bored. That’s clearly not the case here. Even when the kids complain a little when [the work] gets challenging or difficult, by and large, they really like coming here! They’ll ask their parents to take them to Mathnasium, too. And I think it’s because we can always meet students’ needs [regardless of ability level]. And that’s just the best feeling.”