Supercharged Learning That's Actually Fun

Published : Tuesday, August 21, 2012 | 4:47 PM

Mike and Jung Park Kyle have created a unusual oasis of learning and skill-building in central Pasadena at their Nova 42 academy, which combines a Speech and Debate program with holistic College Counseling and SAT preparation.

That combination is as unique and powerful as the two founders themselves.

Mike says the Speech and Debate program builds clarity of thought, fast-thinking skills and the ability to articulate forcefully – “supercharging” skills which the Kyles say result in students improving their SAT scores more quickly.

Mike and Jung Park Kyle

“What we have found is by offering both (forensics and SAT preparation) and by having students who participate in both, we’re actually improving their abilities in both,” Mike says. “Jung’s students who do speech and debate improve their scores faster than those who don’t. We encourage students to investigate both – they do help each other.”

He points to one clear demonstration of how forensics helps students perform better.

“When we teach students ‘impromptu,’ they have 10 seconds to prepare a five minute speech,” Mike says. “This is the real world! Welcome to a job interview. Welcome to any kind of pressure situation which is going to prove your worth or provide you an option or choice in your life. It’s the ability to think quickly and articulate what it is you want to achieve.”

Parents may be thrilled about this opportunity to help their children get ahead, but students may worry that Nova 42 is an educational pressure cooker. It’s not, says Mike. It’s actually fun.

“Academic – but we’re also cool! We have fun here. It’s not so formal and stiff that you’re not going to have fun. In fact, you’ll have a lot of fun!” he says with a smile.

The reason Nova 42 is so different goes beyond the unusual pairing of complementary speech and debate with SAT preparation; it goes to the founders, who are passionate, energetic and dedicated.

Jung Park Kyle is the Director of Language Arts and College Prep at Nova 42. Jung graduated in 1992 from Harvard and Radcliffe Colleges cum laude, B.A. General Studies, with a concentration in English and American Literature and Language.

During her time at Harvard, she was one of only a few undergraduates personally accepted into a graduate English course taught by the head of the Harvard English department. She was also among the select few consistently accepted into Harvard’s competitive creative writing courses.

A view of the Nova42 facility.

Jung also received her J.D. from UC Davis School of Law in 1996 and opened her own law office in 1998 in San Francisco. She won her first major trial, getting a six-figure judgment for her client.

Because Jung has always had a love of teaching and helping high school students, Jung has also been tutoring students in SAT prep since her days in college (first as a Princeton Review tutor and later as a tutor at after school academies for Asian students). In recent years, Jung has also been helping students prepare for the college application process in her unique and powerful manner.

Jung’s husband Mike is Nova 42′s Director of Forensics / Debate Coach.

An accomplished public speaker for many years, “Coach Mike” began his competitive speaking career at the age of 12 when he was invited to attend a high school speaking competition on behalf of South Salem High School (even though he was still in junior high). Mike won first place in both the Novice division of Humorous Interpretation and junior division of Lincoln Douglas Debate.

From then on and throughout high school, Mike went on to win 78 times, taking home 117 trophies along the way. Among his early accomplishments, Mike became the youngest recipient of the National Forensics League’s (NFL) coveted double ruby, receiving it in his freshman year of high school. Throughout high school, Mike took home the most awards in the Policy Cross Examination Debate format, in addition to winning many awards for Lincoln Douglas and Student Congress.

Mike was awarded a debate scholarship to Arizona State University and continued winning speech and debate tournaments in college, in both NDT and CEDA formats.

Graduating Magna Cum Laude from ASU with a B.S. in Engineering, Mike also became a notable and sought-after public speaker in the Printing and Marketing industry, speaking at industry events such as VUE Point and PODi. Now a consultant for the printing industry, Mike says he finds his speech and debate skills key to his success in dealing with CEO’s and other top-level executives.

Mike began realizing his dream of mentoring students in speech and debate in 2011. In a relatively short time, Mike and his students became forces to be reckoned with in the speech and debate world.

Students under his coaching have earned such notable recognition such as one of his 7th graders placing second in a High School varsity level competition in Public Forum Debate, his high school students taking first place in several of the tournaments in 2012, and his students overall winning over 15 trophies in the short months during which he has been coaching.

Mike’s training has also helped his students represent their own high schools and win top awards by using his unique method of research, critical thinking, character development and argumentation style. His caring and personalized mentoring has caused many of his students to tell him that he is not only the best speech and debate coach they have ever had, he is also the best teacher they have ever had.

Perhaps the most vivid example of his unique coaching style is that at tournaments, Mike does not abandon his students by remaining in the coaches’ lounge. Rather, he is right in the trenches with his students, sitting with them in the student cafeteria or group area, going over strategies, and leading them in a group cheer. He is there for them.

For both Jung and Mike, Nova 42 is a dream come true. The Academy’s effective pairing of speech and debate with college counseling and SAT/ACT preparation, all done in a caring atmosphere, makes Nova 42 a parent’s and student’s dream, too.

Call (626) 765-6609 or check out www.Nova42.com for a free consultation and tour. You’ll get a sense of Nova 42’s uniqueness and, the Kyles point out, you’ll also enjoy free snacks!

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