Poverty simulation builds empathy for struggling Alabama public school students


VALLEY, Ala. — A group of Alabama educators in our area want to be sure they understand their students’ lives outside of school in order to provide them the best experiences inside the classroom. That’s why Chambers County, Lanett City, and Roanoke City School Systems recently joined together for a poverty simulation.

Alabama Possible, the advocacy group that sponsored the simulation, says that more than 900,000 Alabama residents live in poverty.  That makes taking care of basic needs such as food, clothing, and shelter a struggle.  The need for survival often affects a child’s performance in school.

In order to help kids who are facing untold struggles at home, Alabama Possible partnered with Chambers County Area School Systems to teach educators valuable lessons. In the simulation, participants were given tasks to perform, such as paying bills on extremely limited budgets, and forced to make hard choices.

“It can be really hard to put yourself in your neighbor’s shoes and  to understand why a child might not come to school with the money for the field trip or the parent is late or doesn’t come or call about a parent/teacher conference,” says Kristina Scott, Executive Director of Alabama Possible.

“The whole point of this was to help people gain a different perspective than maybe what they are going through right now and just help them to be able to understand the different types of children and adults that we serve in our school system,” adds Dr. Kelli Hodge, Chambers County Schools Superintendent.

To complete the simulation exercise last week, the school system closed many of its office operations so that 12-month contract employees could participate. Superintendent Hodge says she hopes some of the principals in her school system take the program back to their schools and consider conducting similar workshops with their teachers and employees.

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