NEWS

A mile in their shoes: Mount exercise highlights difficulties of living in poverty

November 07, 2017
NEWBURGH, N.Y. -

Students fill out forms at the Poverty Simulation’s social services office. The exercise at Mount Saint Mary College was meant to equip future teachers with a better understanding of at-risk pupils.

Students fill out forms at the Poverty Simulation’s social services office. The exercise at Mount Saint Mary College was meant to equip future teachers with a better understanding of at-risk pupils.

 

A few weeks before Thanksgiving, about 100 teacher-candidates from Mount Saint Mary College and beyond left their normal lives at the door of the Hudson Auditorium and learned what life is like for those in poverty.

Sponsored by the Mount’s Division of Education, the college’s Center for Adolescent Research and Development (CARD), the college’s Sigma Tau Chapter of Kappa Delta Pi, and the Newburgh Teacher Center, the event was facilitated by Sonya Abbye-Taylor, assistant professor of education at the Mount; Beverly Browne Fazio ’94 MSE ‘97, coordinator, Newburgh Teacher Center; and Robyn Jowell, consultant, Newburgh Teacher Center. 

The Poverty Simulation Experience placed students in three to six person “families,” taking on roles including children, adults, individuals with disabilities, and more. Over the course of four “weeks,” the students were tasked with getting to work without a car, stretching their budgets, and more. 

Students bargained to feed their families, to keep the electricity running, and to keep a roof over their heads. During the course of the simulation, they dealt with banks, mortgage brokers, social service providers, school personnel, pawnbrokers, and employers – all who had the power to help or hinder their progress. 

The purpose of the simulation was to “sensitize us to the day-to-day realities of life faced by families with low incomes, and to motivate us to incorporate research-based strategies to create an atmosphere of trust and safety for our at-risk students,” explained Browne. 

Mount Saint Mary College’s nationally-accredited education programs enjoy an outstanding reputation in preparing well-qualified teachers and administrators. Students begin fieldwork in their sophomore year in the Mount’s vast network of student teaching sites.