Poverty In Our Schools


Did you know that 60% of our children in our school district are considered to be in poverty?  That’s out of about a 1,600 students in our district, 1,001 students meet the qualifications of poverty in our school.  Let’s get a grip on the reality – that is over half of the population.  Here we work to try and get our students to do homework, and they may be going home and their parents are not home, working two maybe three jobs to try and get food on the table.  Or, they are in the welfare system and getting by.  Some may be generational, other families trying their best, but it is a reality in our area.  St. Lawrence County ranks 55 out 62 in overall health in all counties of NY State.

We may speculate why this is, but it is here and it is present in our schools in Gouverneur.  We need to realize that some of our students come to school, and this is a safe place for them.  Some of our students see school as their safe haven, getting a hot breakfast and lunch, not having and then going home to deal whatever they need to deal with at home.

To be honest with you, I was one of those kids.  My family was depended on SSI believe it our not!  We were a blue collared family in the suburbs, and when my father was placed on disability, to make ends meet, I collected SSI to help with payments because my dad became ill and was put on disability.  My mom worked two jobs, one during the day, one during the weekend.  It wasn’t easy, and thanks to such a strong family support system, we three girls all went to college because as my mother and father said, “You have NO CHOICE!”  In reflection, when my I get together with my sisters, we are grateful for our upbringing and nurturing of a strong work ethic.  But what about kids today?

In a few weeks, a cadre of us will be venturing to Union College to go to the Poverty Symposium that NYSASCD will be hosting.  NYSASCD brings great workshops to the state and this one resonated strongly with me because we have been targeted as LAP school, both East and West Side due to our scores with Economically Disadvantage Students.  NYSASCD has guest bloggers that write about the subject of poverty in our schools.  One of the articles written about poverty and  brain research can be found here.

We know the “have not’s” in our school when we try online web access with our students and ask if there is internet access at home.  We know the “have not’s” in our school when we try online web access and learning at home.  Check out this article here about inequity in the digital divide.

I have also cited in a blog last year about poverty in the US and how we are being compared with Finland.  How our students are trying to grasp the CCSS and the focus has been on testing rather than focusing on fixing poverty in the US.  Also, how Maria Shriver did her research on how poverty effects single mothers and that 22% of our children are in poverty in the US.  Check my post here.

So, we have some work to do and understanding about how to work with our students and families.  Through the efforts of our parent group as well with our staff, we need to work as partners to help our students be successful, no matter what.  Let’s fight this for our children and our community!  Have a great week!


Other News

  • Bus Duty for Oct 20- Oct 217 Team 4:  Steph Plaisted, Brooke Crump, Kim Johnson.  Upcoming bus duty: Nov 3 – Nov 14:  Team 5:  Mindy Backus, Pam Mahay, Barb Gauthier, Jennifer Nichols
  • Please do your best to answer the questions posed in the survey from our LAP Review committee.  We are trying to put a plan in place and tried to make it as easy as possible for you.  I know it is confusing, but please do your best, and add any comments so we can proceed.  This is due Monday, October 20th!
  • I am still working on walk through evaluations.  It’s been busy so please be patient with me.  We will be sending something out to all to clear up what will happen for this process as well as for SLO’s.
  • Please continue to check emails for communication and check the announcement page for the calendar of events.  Mrs. Sheen keeps this updated for you as noted below.  Make it a habit to check!
  • What are the five things you are grateful for?  Make a list daily.  It does wonders!
  • Be the change agent for kids!  Be a champion for kids.  Every kid deserves a champion!

Other Items of Interest (Read at your leisure!)

  • This collection of classroom anecdotes from Alfie Kohn can help us to dig deeper into our classrooms and lessons in order to improve them. Sometimes classrooms that seem engaging, active, and collaborative aren’t. Good food for thought, here.
  • Teachers can search for Common Core-Aligned ELA lessons at this lesson bank.
  • It’s not any surprise, but this recent report explains the impact that being absent from school has on learning.
  • It might not seem like it makes a big difference, but when a teacher calls a classroom “my classroom” it sends a big message.Make it “our classroom.”
  • The Tripod Project is now offering teachers a free survey to use with their students.
  • Read about a multi-age interdisciplinary team that has been using standards-based PBL for years.
  • This video demonstrates the impact that project based learning can have on AP courses, resulting in higher achievement than traditionally taught AP courses.
  • This article summarizes some of the findings from a review of the research about teaching for understanding and project based learning. The book is Powerful Learning: What We Know about Teaching for Understanding.
  • This collection of maps displays the population of the United States in different ways – dividing the populations in different ways provides different perspectives.
  • You can’t motivate someone; motivation comes from within. Here’s an article that describes this and offers some research to prove it. This means we shouldn’t talk about motivating and engaging students. Rather, we create conditions in which the motivation and meaning can be found.
  • There is a lot of good advice about time management and managing distractions in this column. The importance of having a plan is illustrated, too.
  • The SAT is changing – in March of 2016. This memo from SED explains it a little bit, as does this page.
  • Here are some ideas for making the necessary time for necessary teacher collaboration.
  • Read about this teacher who followed her own students’ schedule. She was exhausted, lethargic, passive, quiet, and treated as a nuisance! There are many lessons to learn about how we structure school.
  • Here is a video that explains blogs in simple terms.
  • The New York Times is holding another 15-second vocabulary video contest. Whether or not your students enter, it’s a great way to teach academic vocabulary.
  • Whether you co-teach inclusion classes or integrated PBL, the relationship and mechanics between the teachers makes all the difference. Here’s some good advice.

A Touch of Humor


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