As a morning math lesson wound down at Gildo Rey Elementary, a class of fifth-graders prepared to take a unit test.
“Say ‘I can do it,’ ” teacher Michael Fitzgerald called out.
“I can do it,” the students chanted back.
“Take two deep breaths,” he said.
The students inhaled in chorus, then blew the air out.
A decade ago, few would have predicted that Gildo Rey, a collection of brick buildings tucked between apartment complexes and aging trailer parks in the South King County city of Auburn, would become one of the top-scoring public elementary schools in Washington state.