Over the past decade, Chatham CSD has seen a dramatic rise in the percentage of our students living in poverty. During our November 6 District conference day, our District hosted a Poverty Simulation for all staff, facilitated by representatives of the Capital Area School Development Association (CASDA). This exercise was undertaken at the request of faculty members to build greater awareness and understanding of the complicated issues people in poverty face, with an ultimate goal of better serving the needs of all students.
During the simulation, staff members assumed the roles of family members who, living on a limited budget, were expected to feed their family, keep the utilities on, pay all of their bills, secure their homes, and deal with unexpected situations. There often wasn’t enough money to go around and as the participants interacted with other staff playing the roles of service providers – like banks and lenders, health care providers, public schools, employers, shelters, police, utility companies, pawn shops and more – they experienced some of the difficult choices many people must make on a daily basis.
”I thought it was a very eye-opening experience,” said CHS special education teacher Rodney Stickles. “It really makes you think about the hardships that families, not just kids, face outside of these walls.”
“It showed that you don’t know what someone else’s reality is,” added 2nd grade teacher Janet Ewers.
After the simulation, staff shared their experiences as a group and discussed misconceptions about poverty and positive ways to help reduce its impact.