Laura is a second-grade teacher at North Aurelius School in Mason. When it comes to understanding the challenges that poverty and hunger present in her classroom, Laura has a unique and personal perspective.
“Growing up you could say my family survived the ravages of poverty. When I see kids in my classroom who never bring a snack or clearly have come to school without having breakfast, it brings back some pretty powerful memories. My dad was raised in a Boy’s Home and while he was able to pull himself out of poverty, that family history has colored many of my adult choices.
In fact, my master’s thesis was about building community in the classroom. Every year the goal in my classroom is to build a community of inclusiveness. While the North Aurelius school is a relatively calm environment, there are still challenges to overcome which often are rooted in poverty and hunger.
I make it a point to help all my students learn to be compassionate with their fellow students. Oddly enough I use carrots to help them learn this lesson. At the beginning of every school year, I bring in a big bunch of carrots with the greens on them. We examine the carrots carefully and observe how each carrot is unique yet still needs the soil, the sun, and water to grow. I direct their attention to how different each carrot may appear. It is this story that helps me set a tone of inclusion and respect in the classroom as we become aware of how every child is unique.
There is nothing so heartbreaking as to see a child in your classroom that can’t focus because of outside challenges. I will never forget getting a note from a teacher when I was substituting. She let me know that a particular child was often prone to falling asleep at his desk because he and his family were sleeping in their car.
Covid Has Had an Impact on Her Classroom and Her Students
This school year I find myself noting that many more children in my second-grade classroom are presenting with learning deficits because of how their learning years began at the peak of the Covid crisis. So many of them are still struggling to proficiently learn their letters and to read and write. These circumstances present additional challenges to those children who are not getting enough to eat at home.
In addition to my service in the classroom, I am proud to be part of a group known as Sisters of Service (SOS). Besides doing what we can to help those less fortunate, we are so very grateful for the food resource that comes from the Weekend Survival Kits program. I will never forget a little guy whose face just lit up when he saw what was in the first kit he took home from school – there is so much food he exclaimed! I wish the Weekend Survival Kits donors could see what that food kit meant to that little guy!
These kids who receive the food kits from Weekend Survival Kits may not be able to thank the donors personally, but to have the opportunity to get the fixings for decent hot meals over the weekend does so much more than just address their hunger. It is a gift that they didn’t ask for but really needed. It shows them that someone cares about them.”
In closing, when Laura was asked if there is anything else Weekend Survival Kits could do to help, she shared that at the beginning of the school year it can be difficult to identify and quantify the needs of the individual children who may need food supports beyond what the school lunch program may offer. Sometimes, this leads to students still coming to school hungry those first few months of school. If there are other teachers or school administrators who may have ideas to share about how to get the program established sooner in the school year, please feel free to reach out to Weekend Survival Kits, email@example.com.
And Laura, thank you so much for all that you do to support your students!