City Heights

Edison Elementary Closing the Achievement Gap, One Child at a Time

The school district and the community consider the children and their educators a big success story, and it goes well beyond the classroom

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Students at an inner city elementary school are beating the odds and doing what many said was nearly impossible -- working hard and connecting with students to close the achievement gap.

Most of the students attending Edison Elementary School in City Heights come from families living at or below the poverty line.

The school’s standardized test scores not only exceed many other inner city schools, they meet and exceed scores of schools with more resources, according to an analysis by the Voice of San Diego.

The school district and the community consider the children and their educators a big success story, and it goes well beyond the classroom.

The attention to detail by Edison Elementary’s Principal Eileen Moreno and her dedicated staff is unmatched. It all starts with Moreno’s way of getting to know each student.

“I call it being respectfully nosy and trying to learn as much as I can about the children,” Moreno told NBC 7. “It is amazing the things I will learn from these interviews, from things such as mom having cancer, or a family member being in jail.”

Moreno talks to the young students and their families about their home life, their needs and wants.

“We need to know everything we possibly can about our students from the minute we set foot on this campus,” Moreno said. 

And the school is definitely seeing a difference from this approach in the classroom and in test scores.

Principal Moreno said it’s important that if a child makes a mistake, that they expect responsibility for it and learn from it. Then their teachers move on from the incident as fast as possible. 

“We want to nurture them and at the same time we want to push them and we try to create that balance as much as possible,” teacher Christina Mortel-Davis said.

Mortel-Davis teaches a mixed class of first and second graders at Edison Elementary and she’s been teaching at the school for nearly 20 years. She treks from Temecula every day -- a long ride that she said is worth it because she believes in the students and their community.

“We want nothing more than to serve the students in partnership with each other and their families, not just for academic success, so the kids are good citizens,” Mortel-Davis said.

Fifth grader Daniella Guadarrama said she now aspires to be a teacher since she wants to teach students to have good goals and achieve them.

When asked about her teachers, she said, “sometimes they are strict but they want to tell their students to do a good job.”

“We have very high academic expectations, but similarly we have very high behavioral expectations as well, because a school in chaos can't perform well,” Principal Moreno stressed.

Take a look the school's profile on the California School Dashboard as well.

NBC 7's Catherine Garcia is joined by Voice of San Diego's Will Huntsberry to break down the new California School Dashboard. Learn more at
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