I clearly remember my first Abacus class 20 years ago. It was in the living room of my old house. I had just two students, one Japanese and one American/Japanese, who are now 27 years old.

Now, two decades later, I am looking back on my past as we prepare to celebrate our 20th year of math excellence in Portland.

Here Is How It Began

Back in November 2000, I was in a new country on the other side of the world, in a different culture, raising three little kids. I was working in the OHSU cafeteria, but I was dreaming about building a new life for my family and doing something new that could make me happy and have an impact on other people’s lives.

My ex-husband read an article in The New York Times that reminded him of my past success with the Abacus. “You are a champion,” he said to me. “You should teach.” It took some time for me to consider this idea because I didn’t want to show off.

But I knew that teaching would give me so much pleasure and more financial security, so I contacted my Abacus teacher in Japan and got the materials and guidance I needed.

That First Class

On Jan. 3, 2001, I started teaching Abacus at my old house. From Monday to Friday, I was working in the cafeteria and teaching Abacus at the same time, with three little ones at home.

A few months later, The Oregonian published an article about me. After that, the phone rang and rang. I soon realized I could help support my family just by teaching the Abacus.

In no time, I was able to move JAMS from my living room to a dedicated commercial space. I’m pleased to say we had to move several times to accommodate our growing enrollment.

This Is What I’ve Learned

I have now taught more than 1,000 students, and I have learned as much from them and their parents as I have taught them in Abacus class.

When I started, my children were 5 years, 2 years and 5 months old. I did not know much knowledge to guide them, but I did know that a few things are important in life:

  • Honesty
  • Respect
  • Integrity
  • Humility

When I started in 2001, I applied these principles to my teaching. I continue to believe that they are important.

If you know how to talk politely and with high respect toward anybody, be honest with yourself and others, and be humble, you will be successful in your life … no matter in which field you work or in which country you live.

What Abacus Teaches

I am pleased to be celebrating my 20th year teaching Abacus in Portland.

I was able to touch many lives. It’s fulfilling and satisfying to see my kids transforming into little “math geniuses.”

However, this was never going to be possible without the support I received from my family (including my ex-husband), teachers like Mika Sensei, and, of course, the parents of my students. Who are so committed to their education and growth.

My eyes filled up with tears when my marketing team sent me Jyothy’s video.

I would like to share it with you because I know many of you will relate to Raaga’s and Jyothy’s journey as Abacus students.

Please watch it here:

As you know, at JAMS, we go beyond math, instilling lifelong skills of concentration, discipline, problem-solving, time management, and confidence:

  • Concentration: JAMS students, as young as 6 years old, are trained to focus without interruption. Being present is key to doing it right.
  • Discipline: The direction of the bids, hand positioning, and placement of the Abacus are details that matter! Kids learn the importance of focus and consistency.
  • Problem-Solving: JAMS students are trained to look at a problem and work it out mentally, before diving in and trying to resolve it. They will deal with problem-solving easily for life!
  • Time Management: Students learn to calculate quickly. A timer is used and they are motivated to do problems faster than last time.
  • Confidence: Studies show our students are at least two math levels ahead of their peers. This boosts their confidence and self-esteem.

For children, it’s like a game. For parents, it’s a guarantee for success.

Thank you for another successful year!

My deepest bow to you all!

Miwako Sensei

Nothing fuels the fire for math than discovering you can be a math genius! If you’re not sure Abacus will help your child, sign up for a free preview of our online Abacus Classes – there’s no obligation to register! Come meet with us, watch some kids in action, calculating at the speed of light! We guarantee you will have fun watching these little geniuses.




JAMS is proud to be the only Abacus math school in Portland and in the State of Oregon certified by the League of Soroban of Americas. Since 2001, we have dedicated to Abacus & Anzan instruction and to building a strong foundation of Mental Mathematics along with lifelong skills. JAMS empowers children to achieve academic success, so they will grow in areas that go well beyond the classroom. JAMS parents can expect their child to improve in 5 different areas: concentration, discipline, problem-solving, time management, and confidence. This is the teaching approach at JAMS since opening its doors.