Students across the state of Texas participate in the State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness, or STAAR assessment. As Meridell’s students work on their emotional, behavioral, social and academic readiness, the school also teaches them about having a well-rounded mindset to help them prepare for the STAAR assessment. Principal, Mrs. Wendy Rollins has found that helping students manage test anxiety can lead to more academic success for assessments in the classroom as well as state testing. Another test preparation strategy Meridell incorporates into the curriculum is the services of the school’s therapy dog, Paley. Paley brings many joys to the classroom and it has been proven that therapy dogs help decrease learner anxiety behaviors resulting in improved learning outcomes such as increases in reading and writing levels, increase in school attendance, positive changes towards learning, improved motivation, teaching empathy, appropriate interpersonal skills, social skills, and improving a student’s skills to pick up social cues imperative to human relationships. Several of Meridell’s students passed the STAAR test for the first time, scored the highest rating of “Masters Grade Level” and/or made significant progress. Meridell takes pride in their success being focused on the student becoming a well-rounded individual by using their hands-on Nine Step Investigation Model and emphasis on their Journey to Greatness Program.