Jumpstart is Chamber’s Business of the Year

Published 4:00 pm Wednesday, May 25, 2022

By BRETT CAMPBELL

BRETT.CAMPBELL@dailyleader.com

The business may only be 5 years old, but Jumpstart is living up to its name. The ACT test prep company was recently named Business of the Year by the Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce.

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It all started when local businessman Sha Walker was trying to help his daughter find a way to score higher on the college prep test. It seemed everyone recommended veteran teacher Dot McClendon.

Walker contacted McClendon, who was teaching at Mississippi School of the Arts at the time, and they worked out an agreement to get the teenager plugged in to McClendon’s practice class. Her overall score improved by 3 points — a significant jump for the test.

So Walker went back to McClendon and made a proposal — to take her years of knowledge and skill and make it available to everyone who needs it.

McClendon has a master’s degree in biology and chemistry, and taught in three high schools, as well as at the college and community college level. She taught for 55 years prior to her retirement, and tutored for more than 45 years, helping thousands of students. She is in the Star Teacher Hall of Fame, having received the award by students’ recommendations 19 times.

“Basically what we do is sell the expertise of a legendary Mississippi educator,” Walker said.

Jumpstart Test Prep offers instruction to individual students and in classrooms. The company was founded in 2017, and now offers guided assistance in math, English, reading and science to more than 100 schools in seven states. All students follow a consumable workbook and have access to numerous streaming videos.

The videos are professionally recorded in-house in the company’s West Monticello Street facility, and utilize MSA students and faculty, primarily.

The module-based videos, flash cards and quizzes are simple to follow and can be demonstrably replicated by the student on the actual test.

“It’s making a huge difference in test scores,” Walker said. “It’s the most improvement in the least amount of review time.”

Jumpstart guarantees any student who completes the program will get a higher ACT score — or their money back.

“As a teacher at The Mississippi School of the Arts and several other schools during my career, I was able to help guide the preparation of students in person,” said McClendon, who received the Chamber award on her 81st birthday. “Now, through our online, on-demand video review, students in classrooms around the country, around the breakfast table or on the couch at home, are able to benefit from our approach.”

Eighteen states mandate high school juniors or seniors take the ACT.

“Every junior in Mississippi must take it. This is about preparing them to succeed with (McClendon’s) guided review right before they go in to take the test,” Walker said. “It gives the student guidance and plans to maximize the impact you get with the minimal time investment in review.”

Soon, Mississippi’s high school seniors will be required to take the WorkKeys assessment if they do not plan to attend college. The program helps students understand applied math, graphic literature and workplace documents. Jumpstart has added prep tutoring for WorkKeys and will be able to address those needs, as well.

Walker thinks the company was chosen as the Chamber’s Business of the Year because of its measurable impact in the area.

“It impacts a lot of scores in our area. A lot of people are connected to kids who are taking the ACT (and) are familiar with what it is,” Walker said. “Brookhaven High, the Lincoln County schools and MSA implement our program in the classroom. We have been positively affecting our graduates in Lincoln County for three to four years. You probably know somebody this program has benefitted.”