Finishing First 

While grown-ups worry about standardized tests and school funding, two first-graders show education's not that simple

Page 5 of 5

While Callie's summer includes a trip to the beach, Godofredo has a different kind of summer planned -- one that will help him start playing catch-up to Callie's head start.

Godofredo's parents are pleased with the education he's getting at Cary Reynolds. But they're aware of the gap between their son and students like Callie. Despite the complexities of federal policy, Godofredo's mother knows what she wants for her 6-year-old: "We're going to give him the best opportunity that we can for him to study."

It seems to be working. A month after the regular school year ended, Godofredo was gushing about summer school. "It's great," he says, his command of English notably improved from two months earlier -- during the school year. He says he's read his favorite book, The Three Little Pigs, at least three times.

More importantly, he's passing his enthusiasm to his little brother. Esteban Jr. can't yet say much in English or Spanish. But thanks to Godofredo, the toddler already has his own favorite books.

Neither boy, however, has gone so far as to choose a college.

Callie -- surely through her parents' influence -- has a very clear picture of her future.

"I'm going to Penn State," she says, naming the school where her parents met as undergraduates. "Because it's a good school and they have a good football team."

Godofredo's parents don't have an alma mater to hype. But they believe their family's values will motivate him to be successful.

Esteban and Jenny want Godofredo to go to college if that's what he wants, but what they really want for him doesn't require a degree. His mother has simple hopes for what her will grow up to be: "Just a good person," she says, "a peaceful person."

-- Rochelle Renford



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