Childhood poverty is an epidemic. Schools such as Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk are serving more and more students who are experiencing many of the adverse childhood experiences for which poverty is a serious risk factor. These adverse experiences put students at an educational disadvantage.
Understanding the community we serve is one of the most important aspects of connecting with our students and providing the best possible education to ensure future success. On Thursday, Nov. 30, RCS High School faculty and staff participated in a poverty simulation, an experience designed to help participants understand what it is like to live in poverty and try to make ends meet from month to month.
“The first week was good and then it just deteriorated,” one participant reflected.
The primary objective is to sensitize participants to the realities faced by low-income individuals and families and to educate the participants about the challenges that people living in poverty must address every day.
“The needs of the individual were quickly overlooked for the needs of the family group,” another participant said.
The simulation allowed RCS staff to experience how these challenges can affect the behaviors, beliefs, and health of these individuals, to provide our educators with a better understanding of the social and academics effects of poverty on the students they serve.
“Boy, I felt stressed the whole entire time,” High School Principal, Lisa Patierne said. “This is what some of our kids are going through every day.”
The district also invited community members to assist in the simulation and offer first-hand experience to the participants. These included representatives from the Albany County Sherriff’s Patrol, local fire departments, clergy, bank representatives and the owner of the local Shop ‘n Save.
“Poverty is not a just a school district problem,” Patierne continued. “It is a community issue and we need to work together to fix this problem and to help every one of our students succeed.”
The simulation was put on by the Greater Capital Region Teacher Center.