A hand up

USD 109 to offer discussion on challenges of poverty to the public

Belleville Telescope – www.thebellevilletelescope.com 

Teachers in the Republic County USD 109 school district will experience what it’s like to live in poverty during an in-service on Wednesday, January 2.

“Most of our educators come from middle-class backgrounds,” says school counselor Gina Aurand. “It will help give them a different perspective on where some of our kids come from.”

The poverty simulation exercise leads participants through a one-month simulation of paying bills, child care, housing, and other challenges of everyday life that low-income families face.

The public will have the opportunity to also learn about families who live in diverse situations at a program that evening at 6:30 p.m.at the Republic County Jr./Sr. High School cafeteria.

The presentation for staff and patrons is offered by Rebecca Lewis-Pankratz of the ESSDAC Learning Center in Hutchinson. At age 37, Rebecca says she was living with her three little boys in a trailer house that should have been condemned. Every day was beyond a struggle, she says, but her life taught her two things: hard work and survival.

She grew up poor, dropped out of high school on her 16th birthday. She says that by accident she bumped up against a non-profit that helped people get out of poverty. With their support, she ended up running that profit.

“I want to empower educators to understand that parents in poverty aren’t anti-education, they are just pro-survival,” she says. “I want to help solve poverty by engaging educators, community members, and families into deeper conversations that result in truly lifting students out of poverty,”

Aurand says that as a school district, educators recognize that many children suffer from some form of trauma, which can have an adverse affect on their learning ability. Poverty plays a key role in many of the traumas children experience.

“We think employers in the area and people who work with members of the community on a daily basis, and others also see signs of this trauma,” she said.

For more information contact Aurand at gaurand@usd109.org or PrincipalKatie Struebing kstruebing@usd109.org.