AKRON, Ohio (WJW) – A Northeast Ohio boy with a passion for learning was able to reach a goal he set in the classroom, and his teacher says the achievement was the result of a helping hand the young student received from his classmates.
When 10-year-old John Kayembe and his family moved to Akron from Africa, John could only speak and read in his native Swahili.
But John has quickly picked up English as a second language at Glover Community Learning Center in Akron.
His fourth grade teacher says earlier this year, John learned about a program that honored students who were able to read 100 books with a parade through the hallways at Glover CLC.
“Came upstairs and said ‘how do I do that? I want to do that,’ so the kids jumped on board, started reading him books, he would repeat what they said and then he would take a test on the computer and he has wonderful comprehension,” said Julie Paulus.
John was upset when he learned last week that his family was moving out of state and that he was well short of his goal to read 100 books.
However, the sad news inspired his classmates.
Glover CLC Principal Philomena Vincente told FOX 8, “They said ‘Well, if John makes a hundred books before he leaves, can we make sure that we have a walk just for John?’ and I said we can go for that, absolutely.”
Each day since then, John’s fellow students have been reading books to him and prepping him for tests while keeping a countdown to 100 on the board in the classroom.
On April 1, he reached his goal of reading 100 books.
Paulus wept as she told us, “I have never in 25 years of teaching had a group of students reach out and do something like this, the kindness they have shown to John and each other to support him.”
Last Friday, John was honored for achieving his goal of reading 100 books, as he walks the halls of Glover CLC to the cheers of his teachers and classmates.
John’s mother, Naomi Maboko, told FOX 8, “I cried that day. I said ‘Oh Lord, this is a miracle in my life, what’s happening to my son.’ I’m really glad about that.”
John’s mother says on that day, she decided that the school in Akron was the best place for John and his sister and that they were not moving.
“He came flying up the stairs, screaming ‘I get to stay, I get to stay’ and they all just rejoiced,” said Paulus.
Teachers say what happened next speaks volumes about the young man that John is becoming.
When he learned earlier this week that one of his classmates was short on the number of books that he needed to read, John immediately volunteered to help his classmate reach his goal of reading 100 books.
Longtime educators at Glover CLC say it is John and his classmates who are teaching all of us all a lesson about the importance of having a passion for learning and the reward for lifting someone up to new heights.
“That’s what teaching is about, that’s what it means to be a teacher, to see that growth in a student,” said Paulus.