NEWBURGH – As students prepare to return to their families for Thanksgiving, the Mount Saint Mary College Education Department hosted a “poverty simulation” experience for the college community and local educators on Wednesday, November 7, which highlighted the difficulties of those in need.
Sponsored by the Mount’s Division of Education, the college’s Sigma Tau Chapter of Kappa Delta Pi, the Mount’s Catholic Relief Services Student Ambassadors, and the Newburgh Teacher Center, the purpose of the event was to drive home the harsh realities of life faced by families with low incomes.
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.
For teachers and teacher-candidates, the experience provided motivation to incorporate research-based strategies in the classroom, and to help create a positive, safe atmosphere for at-risk students.
The event was facilitated by Ludmila Smirnova, Mount professor of Education; Sonya Abbye-Taylor, Mount assistant professor of Education; and Beverly Browne Fazio ’94 MSE ‘97, consultant with the Newburgh Enlarged City School District.