WEAC Region 6 member Nick Meinel says Whitewater school closed the achievement gap by believing in its students

Thanks to the efforts of educators like WEAC Region 6 member Nick Meinel, Washington Elementary School in Whitewater has made huge strides in closing the achievement gap between advantaged and disadvantaged students, one of the ongoing goals of public education.

“Getting a student with no electricity at home to engage in learning has more to do with intangible factors,” says Meinel, a fourth-grade teacher who is quoted extensively in a Janesville Gazette article.

Meinel said the school motivates students “by making this their positive place … by letting them know that no matter what happens here, we still believe in them. We still care. We will still do everything we can to make this a safe and happy and enjoyable place.”

Meinel acknowledges that there is no magic formula to closing achievement gaps in schools, but Washington Elementary has had such success that state Superintendent Tony Evers recognized it for excelling at just that. The Gazette notes:

Washington is one of eight Wisconsin schools nominated for the National Blue Ribbon Schools award. The U.S. Department of Education recognizes overall academic excellence or progress in improving student achievement at the schools.

About 46 percent of Washington’s students qualified for free or reduced-price meals, which was about 4 percentage points higher than the statewide average, according to fiscal year 2016 data from the state Department of Public Instruction.

For the 2015-16 school year, the state Department of Public Instruction gave Washington a perfect 100/100 score for closing gaps (compared to 62.1/100 statewide). That contributed to its 91.6 overall score—one that “significantly exceeds expectations.”

Read the entire Janesville Gazette article:

WATCH: Closing achievement gaps at Whitewater’s blue-ribbon nominated school

WHITEWATER-There is no silver bullet for getting a child whose home has no electricity to care about her math homework. Nick Meinel, a fourth-grade teacher at Washington Elementary School in Whitewater, teaches that student every day, nonetheless.