By Giana Quinterno, AmeriCorps member serving on the National Grid Team with Blackstone Innovation School

Today, as four City Year alumni race in the Boston Marathon, we bring you a story of one student racing time and doing his best at making it to school.

One morning, at approximately 9:00 a.m., CJ* walked into class, placed his green tardy slip on his 4th grade teacher’s desk and greeted, “Good morning Ms. Giana.” I turned and greeted CJ with a warm smile. Though I did not yet know it, this was the start of a beautiful conversation.

CJ and I began talking, and I brought up his tardiness. We talked briefly about my role as an AmeriCorps member in his class and how I am there to help support him with his attendance. I told him that his attendance since the start of school was initially pretty good. We talked about some patterns we saw in his attendance and arrival time to school. CJ and I then noticed that recently, he found himself having tardy days and thus, missed out on learning time. As a result, we decided this would be our focus—getting to school on time.

“CJ, what is your morning routine like?” I asked him.

“Well I wake up and get ready. Then I take my dog outside, eat breakfast and play some video games. Then, when it is time to leave I get my stuff and my steed dad drives me” CJ responded. He continued to explain to me how his sister has to also get ready to join him for the ride because she is an infant. As he continued to give me more insight into his morning, we discussed ways to help him save time in the morning. We agreed that he would leave his house 5 minutes sooner than his usual time because that was making him rush to get to school on time. Together, we set out goal: CJ would be on time 4 out of 5 days for the upcoming week. If that goal is accomplished, we would get to play one-on-one basketball at the end of recess. 

With his eyes wide open and a smile from ear to ear, CJ listened intently and then turned to me asking, “Can I go grab my address book since, you know, my step dad takes me to school? This way you can call him and not my mom if I am not here.” 

“Yes, of course!” I replied as CJ scurried out of the classroom and in a flash was back with his notebook, where he carries important phone numbers and notes. As we reviewed our goal and incentive for the week, I noticed CJ writing in his address book. While concluding our conversation, I glanced up at CJ saw that he had written “DON’T BE LATE!!!” across his page.

I could not help but grin from ear to ear as CJ was indeed on time 4 out of 5 days in the week. Oh, and it was a double victory for him as he beat me in basketball.


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