Meeting Street Academy students learning 2 to 5 grade levels above their peers

Local News

SPARTANBURG, SC (WSPA) – South Carolina is ranked 43rd in the nation when it comes to education. And some schools in underprivileged areas fall well below state standards.

But an innovative public school in Spartanburg is looking to prove that children can succeed despite their zip code.

In the heart of Spartanburg’s inner city, students at Meeting Street Academy are testing 2 to 5 grade levels above their peers.

Teachers aren’t just focused on math and reading, but what the school calls the eight “Pathways to Success,” which are integrated into daily instruction.

  • Self Control
  • Curiosity
  • Citizenship
  • Gratitude
  • Optimism
  • Empathy
  • Integrity
  • Grit

The school’s president Jordyn Johnson showed us how students and staff track their progress.

An average sixth-grader is testing above a ninth-grade level in reading and 11th in math.

“I am very grateful to come here because it’s so interesting to learn,” Johnson said.

Meeting Street is part of District 7 and free for students, but roughly half of its budget comes from private funds.

“It allows us to veer a little bit from a typical public school and try some new things that we think are having some great success,” MSA’s Community Liaison Kathey Dunleavy said.

Instruction starts at age 3 and every class has two certified teachers.

It’s a model standard public schools may not have the funding to replicate, but some key innovations cost nothing like a new type of principal.

Raine Hackler is almost always in the classroom supporting students and staff.

“When I was a kid, it was get sent to the principals office, right?” Hackler said. “But instead the principal is in the classroom, celebrating the rock star teachers doing what they do best. But then knowing every child, right, ever child, where they’re at, what they need next and what you need to do to keep successful. So it definitely fills my bucket.”

Speaking of filling buckets students are set up with credit union accounts to learn financial literacy.

“I feel happy because I saved all my money up my Christmas money and my birthday money,” Jamarion Anderson, a MSA third-grader, said.

And many have well educated mentors from the community to guide them from second-grade until graduation.

“I think if we want to change the game in education we have to try a few things differently,” Hackler said. And there’s a little bit of a secret sauce at Meeting Street but nothing everybody else couldn’t do.”

Above all, he said, it all goes back to a method of teaching that emphasizes not just academics, but the virtues that research shows lead to success in the classroom and in the real world.

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