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The Burden of Poverty

A series on poverty in the schools and how it affects students’ learning. We examine the problems poverty creates for students and their families and the schools and strategies that are helping disadvantaged students succeed.

Vision, Hearing Problems Add More Stress to Families

Eryka Ehling felt lucky. Her 4-year-old daughter didn't need a hearing aid after all. The news followed several weeks of anxiety after 4-year-old Alexis failed a hearing screening at her Head Start center last fall. Ehling, a single mom who...

State Poverty Numbers Grim, but Local Student Advocates See Signs of Hope

Lynn Heemstra has been working to improve the lives of Grand Rapids children since 1998. As executive director of Our Community’s Children, a nonprofit advocacy agency, Heemstra has seen some success in getting youths into after-school programs and other...

How Hunger Hurts Learning: Schools Seek to Feed Students’ Tummies and Minds

The list of ways hunger can affect a child's health is a long one. Chronic health issues like asthma, behavioral issues like anxiety and social issues like bullying are just a part of that list. Nan Evans has seen children...

Turning Around a Low-Performing School

Arelis Diaz realized at a young age that it’s possible for a teacher to impact the life of a vulnerable student forever. In third grade, the daughter of Dominican immigrants struggled to learn her multiplication tables. Her teacher tracked students’...

The Road to Success in a High-Poverty School: It’s All About Collaboration, Expectations

 In Holly Vostad’s North Godwin Elementary School classroom, kindergarteners sat in circles on the rug, discussing what they planned to write about: A weekend at their father’s. Christmas. Snow. Their favorite things. They soon headed to their desks, pulling...

Offering Help Where It’s Needed, School and Home

When Rosalba Cruz was facing eviction from her mobile home because she was behind on rent, her daughter Anahi noticed she was stressing out. The fifth-grader at Alpine Elementary School suggested someone who might help. “There’s a person that speaks Spanish...

Nonprofit Helps Students Boost Test Scores, Confidence Through Free Private Tutoring

Townline Elementary School fourth-grader Kadyn Toris has made huge gains in reading since he began receiving private tutoring at Streams of Hope. Since second grade, Kadyn has attended a total of six 12-week sessions inside the food pantry at the...

‘I’ll be Forever Grateful,’ Single Mom Says of Community’s Help

Flossie Bliss has a strong faith in God, but her faith in people has been renewed. The Cedar Springs single mother of four was astonished by the generosity of community members who came to her aid after they read of...

Migrant Students a Part of County’s Poverty Picture

In Kent City Community Schools, where some 53 percent of students qualify for free or reduced-price lunches, the usual problems of poverty persist. But the issues are heightened because of the district’s significant migrant worker population working in northern...

Poverty Persists Out in the Country, Out of Sight

Nine-year-old Marisol is doing handstands and 16-year-old Rocio makes a peanut butter sandwich as their mother describes her dreams for them. “I want them to be self-sufficient,” Flossie Bliss says of her daughters, who also include Gloria, 13, and Stephanie,...

Beyond Reading and Writing: School Nurses Serve Main Point of Contact for Many Low-Income...

Editor's Note: The Burden of Poverty: A Backpack of Heartache is a continuing series examining the problems poverty creates for students and their families, plus the schools and strategies that are helping disadvantaged students succeed A student stays home sick because of problems with...

Dental Team Saving Teeth, School Days, in Districts with High Need

Editor's Note: The Burden of Poverty: A Backpack of Heartache is a continuing series examining the problems poverty creates for students and their families, plus the schools and strategies that are helping disadvantaged students succeed Fluoride flavor was a concern for Analashia Reid, a...

The Price of Poverty: Students Struggle to Overcome Families’ Financial Hardships

Editor’s note: This month, School News Network launches a continuing series on poverty in the schools and how it affects students’ learning. We will examine not only the problems poverty creates for students and their families, but the schools...

For Most Students, Achievement Reflects Income

The higher the poverty, the lower the test scores. That’s the general story of academic achievement in Kent County public schools. Further, students’ economic hardships unfairly penalize poorer school districts when it comes to statewide rankings of their performance, experts...

Student Describes Experiences, Obstacles of Living in Poverty

Lee High School senior Jordan Lovett headed to cross-country practice after her final class of the day. Along the way, she stopped to listen to a middle school student play his instrument. She then took a moment to chat with...

Principal Stresses ‘Education Is the Road Out of Poverty’

As a child growing up in inner-city Chicago, Kathryn Curry had friends who were at school one day and gone the next, after their families were evicted from their homes. She attended a funeral of a friend killed by a...
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