“Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try!” Tara Meinke frequently quotes the famous words of Master Yoda, who provides the wisdom in her favorite films–The Star Wars saga. To her, this quote means don’t make excuses; make it happen. She lives this creed by exploring new activities like karate, triathlons and mountain biking.
Seventeen years ago Tara moved to Neenah with her family because it was always a goal of hers to teach at Neenah High School and have her family grow up and make memories together here. She enjoys Neenah because of its small town feel while still being able to easily access larger cities like Madison, Milwaukee, and Minneapolis.
Tara also added that she loves Neenah because of the parks, restaurants and programs for the youth. She relishes walking through Rocket Park with her family and their dog, Bentley. Tara and her family enjoy eating at Zacatecas because “the dinner menu is amazing and Ernesto is passionate about all details of food and drink.”
In addition to enjoying all the city has to offer during her personal life, Tara Meinke feels a special sense of pride in that she was able to make Neenah High School a better place as a co-founder of the Arete Academy, “an interdisciplinary project based academy.” As she explains, “the academy allows students not only to learn the curriculum in an integrated fashion, but also to apply the facts they are learning to projects which impact the community.” She believes Arete gives students an opportunity to develop career skills while building a resume and connections within the local business community. Under the direction of Tara, three years ago the Arete students started to write articles for Future Neenah to highlight citizens within the city. She states she is “very proud to have been part of launching it and to see its continued success.” By collaborating with Future Neenah for the Humans of Neenah project, Tara’s vision of building community connections has provided Arete students a way to make assignments more meaningful than they would ordinarily be when they are read only by the teacher.
Tara’s legacy at Neenah High School of teaching calculus, co-founding the Arete PBL Academy, creating the Arete greenhouse and growing the Humans of Neenah and Walking Neenah article series are a testament to her passion and love of students and their learning. Never one to seek out the spotlight, Tara downplays her influence as a founding member of the Arete Academy by saying, “The program is a rewarding one! I will definitely miss being part of Arete as I move on to my next chapter of impacting youth!”
Article By NHS Arete Student Kelly Vang