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Stories / Youth

The Zombie Math-Apocalypse

Jerrod* didn't like math, but he did like zombies...

When I first met Jerrod*, he was six and living with his mother and younger brother. Their father is out of the picture, and mom rarely talks about him. Without a job, Jerrod’s mom has a hard time meeting Jerrod’s basic needs. They are usually low on food, and to say his clothes are gently used would be an understatement. His challenges at home make it difficult for Jerrod to do well in school. We have been together for a year now, and while I have watched Jerrod grow significantly, I know we have a lot of work to do over the next 11 years. I am looking forward to our journey together.

Jerrod is creative and he loves using his imagination. Since he struggles with math, I use those positive qualities to enable him to learn. One time we were driving in the car and he blurted, “Mr. Paul, I’m going to count all the zombies.” Jerrod made up a zombie game; all the people outside of the car were zombies. And the light bulb just clicked for me. He hates math, but loved counting zombies. So I put the two together. Now, we count all the zombies until a red light, and then we add them with the next set of zombies at the next red light. Now, all my boys play the zombie game in the car. It’s genius!

*Name changed to protect the privacy of our youth.