Poverty and its effect on education

GLASGOW/EDMONTON Ky.-The poverty rate in Kentucky sits at 18.3 percent, meaning one out of every 5.5 residents of Kentucky lives in poverty, according to studies from Welfareinfo.org.

With families living in poverty comes children living in poverty, and it overall equals an effect of poverty in local schools, especially in rural towns like Glasgow.

“Because of our demographics and because our demographics have changed so much in the past 10 to 15 years, we really think about what we can do for our kids to get them out of poverty,” said Glasgow High School Principal Dr. Amy Allen.

Poverty can affect a student’s ability to come to school with the proper supplies. Glasgow high school has taken note of this issue and provides supplies for the students who may not have them otherwise. Math teacher Kellie Lee is a prime example of school staff who offers this service.

“I find that some students, we’re just happy that they get to school every day. They might not have their backpack or their materials or they might be hungry. We try to provide those things, so they don’t have to worry about them,” Lee said.

Moving over to the rural area of Metcalfe County, it’s another Kentucky city where students may not have access to the tools vital for learning. School staff like Metcalfe County High School Principal Clint Graham know of this and are always looking for ways to assist.

“We provide 3 meals a day here in the Metcalfe County Schools for all students for our 21st century program. We understand that there may be some students that are hungry. We don’t want that to be a reason that they’re not focusing in,” Graham said.

A goal of the schools is to catch the emotional effects of poverty from the start.

“Along with poverty comes emotional problems. We provide counseling for our students and we just want to be that vessel of success for our students,” Graham said.

Where these problems live, so does the Metcalfe County High School Youth Service Center. Snacks are provided for students during class changes, to ensure no one is learning on an empty stomach. The center also provides clothes for students who need them. Youth Service center coordinator for the Metcalfe County Schools Judy Thompson said it brings her joy to serve the students who need the extra resources.

“It’s the best job I’ve ever had. I love seeing how thrilled they are to get the stuff, and simple stuff makes them happy. It’s just a good feeling to know that you’re helping them,” Thompson said.

Barren County in Glasgow is another school district that sees the effects of poverty on its students.

Programs like Reads and Feeds seek to provide food to those families who aren’t getting enough. Beyond that, the Barren County district also has access to a youth service center, providing clothes, supplies, love, and smiles. Youth service coordinator Shelly Thomas has the youth service center decorated with smiles, so students know they’re in a safe space.

“When you approach a person as a person, it’s easy to establish a bond of trust so that person will reach out in times when they have a need,” Thomas said.

Poverty affects a student’s ability to learn, grow, and even live. One thing all schools agree on is that it takes everyone to make a difference.

“It takes everybody, and we are so blessed and fortunate that we have so many caring individuals here,” Thomas said.