An Inspirational Approach to the Achievement Gap

Bartlet High Webster Mass

Closing the education achievement gap is tough.

New results from the nation’s most widely used college admission test highlight in detailed fashion the persistent achievement gaps between students who face disadvantages and those who don’t.

Scores from the ACT show that just 9 percent of students in the class of 2017 who came from low-income families, whose parents did not go to college, and who identify as black, Hispanic, American Indian or Pacific Islander are strongly ready for college.

But the readiness rate for students with none of those demographic characteristics was six times as high, 54 percent, according to The Washington Post Thursday September 8th 2017.

There are a lot of great people working very hard to narrow this huge gap from the policy, administrative, and teacher side of the spectrum.

But Wayne Winsley, a middle school history teacher who also happens to be a multiple award-winning motivational speaker is taking a different approach. He is working at the student level, using inspiration and motivation to increase student achievement.

His nonprofit organization Brave Enough To Fail Inc. provides free motivational programs and scholarships to high schools.

Winsley explains why he does it,

“At age 14, I was living in an orphanage in Cleveland Ohio, had failed eighth grade the previous year, and basically given up on school. I was a poor black kid who, the experts would say,  had given up on my future and was too set in my ways to be motivated to change. I was destined for one of two places, behind bars or dead.

One day, a friend of mine’s dad was disappointed with his report card and began to lecture him. Without intending to, without even realizing that I was in the room, his dad said the words that changed my life forever.

Always strive for excellence no matter what you do. Excellence will overcome, poverty, prejudice, and adversity every time. Just be excellent at whatever you choose to do.”

That simple message motivated me to make the choice that saved my life.

I chose to go back to school and do the absolute best I could. Because of that choice, I didn’t wind up behind bars or dead. I know first hand that a message can change a child’s life. 

That is why I’ve dedicated the rest of my life to delivering a message of inspiration and motivation to as many young people as possible by providing free motivational programs to high schools.”

Natasha Ushomirsky, a policy development director for the Education Trust, a nonprofit that advocates for disadvantaged students, told the Washington Post,  “There’s a lot of power in communicating the expectation that all students can achieve at high levels,”

Research, by the Dalio Foundation of Connecticut, shows that disengaged students who are re-engaged and motivated during the first two years of high school are nearly twice as likely to graduate than students who remain disengaged. See the report here.

Schools across the nation agree about the power of a positive message and are reaching out to request the program. Currently Brave Enough To Fail has requests for the 2017-2018 school year from schools in thirteen states including Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey,  Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, Arkansas, Indiana, Illinois, Minnesota, Washington, and Alaska.

Contact Wayne Winsley     Twitter @WayneWinsley  Facebook





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