Adult Education News

Silver Lake College Graduate Education Instructor Leads Poverty Simulation for Little Chute Elementary and High School Teachers

Posted on January 23 2013

Barney Slowey, graduate education instructor for Silver Lake College of the Holy Family, led a poverty simulation exercise for elementary and high school teachers on Friday, January 18th at Little Chute High School, aided by several community volunteers, many of whom are former educators or administrators themselves. He came at the invitation of Mary Ann Anderson, 5th Grade Teacher for the Little Chute Area Public School District who had recently participated in an evening graduate education workshop session entitled “New Perspectives on Education: Poverty – the Great Discriminator” that addressed the effects of poverty on students’ abilities to learn. The workshop was designed by Slowey and Tamara Sharp, who are both instructor/facilitators for the community-based, accelerated graduate education program at Silver Lake College. Slowey has 17 years of teaching service and 11 years of experience in school administration, and now enjoys his role giving teachers valuable teaching tools to use in their classrooms.

Teachers participating in the exercise were assigned to “families” living in poverty, and were asked to take on the roles of parents and their school age children so they could step through a typical month in that family’s life, one week at a time. “Parents” struggled to meet responsibilities such as paying rent, utilities and loans, buying groceries and securing transportation, while interacting with various businesses and social service agencies “staffed” by the volunteers. They experienced the frustration and stress of struggling to make ends meet, and got a glimpse of the effect this was having on their “kids.” By recognizing and better understanding some of the barriers that families in poverty face, educators can begin to develop instructional strategies that help students who live in poverty become successful learners.

For more information on the graduate education workshops and degree programs offered by Silver Lake College, please visit

Photo: Barney Slowey answers questions from Little Chute elementary school teachers participating in the poverty simulation exercise.

Photo: a teacher participating in the poverty simulation exercise plays the role of a child who is misbehaving while her mother (also played by a participating teacher) is trying to meet with a social worker.