Sha’Meeka Boykin and her son, Christopher Cosey (Photo credit: Sha’Meeka Boykin)

Sha’Meeka Boykin knew her son, Christopher Cosey, was having a hard time in school, and because she considers him a gift, giving up on him was never an option.

“He was slipping further behind because he was cutting class, and he was cutting class because he fell behind,” she said. “There were so many bad influences at school that I looked at getting him into private school, and when that fell through, I thought about moving out of Racine County so he could be in another school.”

Instead, Cosey, 17, ended up at Racine Alternative Education, a program that primarily aims at helping students recover lost credits at their home schools. Boykin said RAE has made a huge difference in Cosey’s academics, but she also made some changes at home she believes has contributed to his turn-around.

“I learned that Christopher needed to feel involved so I started giving him two choices – and I was okay with both – and that way, he got to choose, but I was still mom,” she said. “At RAE, they use a number of tools to reach each student, and he has started excelling.”

Like most teenagers, Cosey really wanted to drive, but Boykin said his grades never warranted her granting that privilege to him. RAE helped Cosey develop a goal timeline that has helped him stay on track, and he’s shown his mom that his commitment to school means he’s ready to drive.

“I wanted him to make me feel like I should do that for him because he is doing what he needs to do,” she said.

Christopher Cosey poses with his mother, Sha’Meeka Boykin, at her college graduation ceremony. (Photo credit: Sha’Meeka Boykin)

Boykin uses her own life as a cautionary tale for her kids; Cosey and his older sister are exactly 23 months apart. As a teen mom who earned her HSED and recently graduated from college, she knows all too well how hard it is to reach your goals when you grow up too fast.

“I had family who supported me, but it was still hard, and I want my kids to not have to face those choices,” Boykin added. “I encouraged Christopher to graduate on time and walk the stage with the kids he’s known since elementary school.”

That encouragement is what sticks with Cosey when he goes to school every day. He told Racine County Eye that his mom expects him to be great, and he wants that, too. You can watch his video interview here.

“My mom wants me to do good things in life, and I want to succeed,” he said. “Success means being great at what you want to be.”

We asked Boykin what she thinks the greater Racine community can do for students who might not have the support at home that she provides for her kids.

“All students have strengths, and we need to acknowledge those,” she continued. “We need to recognize their good acts and let them know their presence in this world is needed. I don’t think most kids hear enough positive remarks. If we only talk about the bad, they will only see that.”

She also cautions against expecting too much too soon.

“We can’t expect a quick turn-around,” Boykin stated. “We have to recognize the good things as they happen.”

Clearly Cosey is an example of how Boykin puts her advice to work in her family’s life. He works at both the Racine Family YMCA and caddies at Racine County Club; he’s also on track to graduate with his class next year.