At-risk school success stories Succeeding where many have failed: How administrators turn districts arounds

No matter how cutting-edge the technology or advanced the curriculum, students have a hard time mastering essays and equations if they’re hungry, traumatized or feeling marginalized by a textbook’s inaccurate portrayal of their ethnic group.

“If you came to work and hadn’t eaten for a day or two, you wouldn’t be prepared to work,” says Jennings School District Superintendent Tiffany Anderson, who has received national attention for progress that her St. Louis-area system has made since she took over in 2012. “So why would we expect adolescents to come prepared to function mentally and physically without their basic needs being cared for?”

To boost academic outcomes for “at-risk” students—and turn entire underperforming districts around—school leaders now operate social services like food pantries and homeless shelters. In the classroom, teachers lead mental and physical exercises to help students focus on instruction designed to be more relevant to future career aspirations.

(For the rest of this article go to