How one Wisconsin school district fought increasing student anxiety… and won!

Illustration of six people arm in arm

"Committed to community. Committed to children. Committed to excellence.”

For Waunakee School District teachers and administrators, this isn’t merely a slogan. It’s a promise, and they intend to keep it.

Waunakee, an affluent, semi-rural town in South-central Wisconsin, is an idyllic place for its 13,000+ residents to call home. Boasting an active social and economic community, higher-than-average median household income, and an excellent, yet challenging, education system — Waunakee clearly takes care of its own.

In 2018, the county performed the Dane County Youth Assessment and a crisis was consequently uncovered. When compared to the 2015 results of the same assessment, it became clear that anxiety and depression rates across the county were increasing, with 63% of its students reporting “pressure to perform in school” as their greatest concern.

Traditionally, behavioral health screening doesn’t typically identify mental health concerns related to academic stress, and their results aren’t available until mid-year, but Waunakee administrators knew that this timeline simply wouldn’t do. School officials knew they needed to work quickly to find and implement a solution.

How did administrators in Waunakee support their students?

They call it “the sizzle”. Read the case study to find out what it is!