By Chinonso Aladi, AmeriCorps Member at Mifflin High School

It’s the third quarter of the school year, and I’m well-settled into my service. It has been an amazing experience thus far, and I am still making progress with my students and building relationships with them.

My starfish story is one of my students on my behavior list. He’s a really smart kid with tons of energy that is often misdirected. He’s had a couple of suspensions and tons of lunch detentions. 

During one of our pull-out sessions, we had an honest conversation, setting a goal to turn in all of his homework every week. I would like to say we succeeded the first week but that didn’t happen. He often missed his first two classes due to his lateness and the work kept piling up, which discouraged him a great deal.

In math class over the next few weeks I kept sitting by him, making sure he tried to complete his work. He made progress—he started turning in his work a couple days late, compared to previously not turning it in at all. He even started staying after school to do work from classes he had missed.

Flash forward to this quarter. He got his math grade sheet, and ran toward me and flashed it in my face. “Ms. Aladi, look I got a C!” He then folded it in his pocket and walked away. The old student I knew would have crumbled that grade sheet and tried to slam-dunk it in the trash.

His grade in math previously was an F, and it was amazing to see the confidence he had showing off his new grade to his classmates. We successfully attained the goal of turning in work sheet in math class. It was never easy sitting by him and telling him to turn off the music and work. Before, he would often get frustrated, and get up and walk away, saying “Ms. Aladi this is too much work.”

Now, he is so focused when getting his work done that I can’t help but feel super proud of him. It is amazing to see him want to succeed, just as I’ve wanted him to from the start of the school year.


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