In July 2010, Larry Clarke, Instructor of the Stourbridge Kumon Study Centre, passed away after suffering for some months with a brain tumour. For three years, Larry had developed the Stourbridge Centre into a popular part of the community where children were nurtured to become confident, independent individuals. Following Larry’s untimely death, Lisa Sheldon took over the Stourbridge Study Centre with the aim of continuing Larry’s great work.
At the Stourbridge Advanced Student Roll awards ceremony, held to celebrate students studying at a level above that expected for their age, an additional Larry Clarke memorial award was presented.
Caroline Clarke, Larry’s wife, attended the ceremony. She gave a touching speech to the children and parents, stating how pleased Larry would have been to see the success of the centre and the way Lisa had taken it forward with his ethos in mind.
Caroline presented the Larry Clarke Memorial Trophy to the student who had made the most progress, not just academically but personally, over the last year. The special award was presented to 15 year old Taylor Jones.
Taylor started studying the Kumon maths programme in October 2009. Though he was officially in year 11 at school, Taylor was studying in a year nine class. At his enrolment, Taylor told Larry that he wanted to succeed and do as well as he possibly could. He hoped Kumon would help him to achieve this.
Taylor struggled at school and was extrememly shy and retiring when he first came to Kumon and would only communicate with Larry. His academic skills were also weak for his age and he found not knowing any multiplication held him back a lot in lessons. Taylor found the Kumon maths programme very beneficial. The short repetitions helped him to learn at his own pace and helped him to truly master the basic skills he was lacking. He is now confident in saying his times tables both forwards and backwards and he finds this helps him a lot with his long division and fractions.
Reflecting on the awards ceremony, Taylor said:
“My face lit-up when I heard my name. I was so shocked I couldn’t move. When I finally managed to get out of my seat, I steadily made my way up to the front. I couldn’t speak; all I could do was smile and think about how lucky I was to have something that would remind me of Larry.”
Over the years, Taylor has developed into a polite and helpful student. He now helps to set up the classroom, assists younger and new students with the class procedure and confidently speaks to all members of staff, offering his assistance with any task.
Lisa Sheldon, Taylor’s Instructor explains:
“I am really pleased that the memorial shield was awarded to Taylor. He is a very popular student who has not only developed academically through the programme but personally too. Kumon has really helped Taylor to start realising his true potential, helping him to gain confidence and become a responsible adult who can make a real contribution to society. It has been very satisfying and rewarding to see this young man grow in self esteem.”