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Inspiring Conversations with Duane Joseph of MaranathaEd

Today we’d like to introduce you to Duane Joseph.

Hi Duane, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstories.
I’m an educator by profession. After college, I enlisted into the United States Navy and served almost four years before injuring my left knee playing basketball, and getting out on a Medical Honorably Discharged. Went to work for a Christian School in Jacksonville, FL teaching Kindergarten for three years and High school Mathematics for another 11 years in the classroom. Moved to Thibodaux, LA, and taught 9th Grade Math at H. L. Bourgeois High School for Terrebonne Parish School District.

While at HLB, I created an ACT Prep program that saw students’ scores jump 2 to 7 points. I was hired as a Director for a program in the Kansas City Public Schools but once I moved to Kansas City, I found out that the Superintendent had resigned. So, job off the table and took a Math teaching position at Northeast High School. Finished out my one year there and was hired by a major nonprofit in Kansas City. Program. I was there for four years and unfortunately, there was a reorganization and I found myself outside looking in. I did not ever want to feel like that again, so decided to start Maranatha Educational Services, LLC (MaranathaEd) on September 3, 2012.

Focusing on Math tutoring, we worked with students around the metropolitan area getting them to grade level. With the knowledge and understanding of the ACT that I acquired while in Louisiana, I piloted the ACT Prep program six months after starting MaranathaEd and added it to our educational services. Over the 9 years, we’ve worked with 913 students and have averaged a 29 Composite ACT Score Post Covid: English 32, Mathematics 28, Reading 28, and Science 28. Students average between 2 to 10 point gains in Scale and Composite scores.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
It has not been a smooth road as many entrepreneurs would agree. Although I started with a budget that would allow me to start my business and not have to make a profit for 18 months, we were profitable almost immediately but there’s only one of me and if I was to scale then I would have to hire more people like me.

Eventually, we would have financial issues because being a small business trying to scale with no credit would be stressful. I realized that bootstrapping would be the most effective and efficient way to grow. Just when we were getting to the point where we could be major profitable as a company, Covid. Since our business deals with schools, students, and interaction, we went from averaging 20 to 30 students per ACT Testing Dates, which is seven, to 3 to 8 students per test.

Colleges and Universities decided to waive the ACT/SAT requirements to get into schools because of Covid and not being able to sit for the test. Numbers are still below average but are getting up because of having to be creative with marketing and word of mouth.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know?
MaranathaEd, LLC is one of the top Test Prep companies in the Kansas City Metropolitan area. We specialize in preparing students for the ACT/SAT/PSAT/HSPT test. We are known for helping students jump their ACT scores from 2 to 10+ on the ACT Scale and Composite Scores. What sets us apart from our competition is our S-K-P Model (Strategies-Knowledge-Practice) approach to the ACT and SAT. Our approach is personable and we get the students to understand how to break the tests down into small manageable pieces.

We are most proud of our book, Rule the Kingdom of ACT. This book breaks down the different sections of the ACT and allows our students to see how to attack the test with the most visible Strategies. We would like to let your readers know that “We are the Absolutely Best Test Prep” company in the Kansas City Metropolitan area and although there are many changes to the ACT and SAT, these two tests are still used for scholarship dollars.

We have different sites across the country: Online, Seattle, Omaha, Lincoln (next year), and Houston (next year), we call Kansas City home because the people here are responsible for the success that has allowed us to place sites in different cities. Our services are available online via Zoom for One on One sessions and beginning in January we will have a full video series course available for parents and students to purchase via our teaching platform.

Let’s talk about our city – what do you love? What do you not love?
Kansas City is one of my favorite cities in America. It was a great place to raise my son as a single father. I have the most amazing group of friends here. It’s about 10 of us and we all met at some point at the Starbucks on the Plaza. Our text group chat can get a little crazy. Those guys are one of the reasons that MaranathaEd is a success in Kansas City.

When I first started my business, my guys and I would meet at Starbucks on the Plaza and they would introduce me to parents who had high schoolers that would need my services. I would go on the record to say that 90% of those parents signed up just because they knew my friends. Once the word of mouth marketing of our scores got around then we were able to grow. That’s so Amazing for someone that is not from Kansas City. I’m so appreciative of that.

Kansas City is also an amazing city to live in. I love Waldo, Brookside, the Plaza, Westport, Midtown, Downtown, and River Market. I live two blocks from the Nelson Atkins Museum and when I tell my family and friends from Seattle and other cities that it’s free, they are totally amazed. The restaurants, events, museums, shopping, culture just to name a few are some of the things that keep me here.

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