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WISD Training A Step In Fight Against Poverty

July 20, 2011

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Waco ISD superintendent Bonny Cain has big plans to utilize the services of many sectors of the community to reach out to those in poverty. An extensive list by Dr. Cain is only the tip of the iceberg. And it may seem like a strange place to start a report on summer training for teachers. But the Ruby Payne training taking place this summer isn't your average career development seminar. It's nothing short of an attempt to provide teachers with, as Dr. Ruby Payne's book is titled, "A Framework For Understanding Poverty." And more specifically, the mindset of impoverished students in the community who fill these teachers classrooms. Tammy Huggins, a teacher and director of the work program at Waco High School, attended one of the mid-July sessions. She recognizes that students live in a world at home very different from the school they attend.

So to help teachers like Huggins better meet this challenges, the school board approved Dr. Cain's recommendation to undergo the district-wide Ruby Payne training that she utilized in her prior stint as the head of Pearland schools. Teachers spent an intensive 14 hours in 2 days in various locations throughout Waco ISD, as instructors like Donna McKethan talked about the mindset of children and adults dealing with the realities of poverty. In a sense, there's a language gap to be overcome.

Unwritten rules, language differences, formality vs. informality, lack of resources vs. mere lack of money: all topics teachers discussed and were then given strategies to tackle during the training. In the next two days, we'll hear more of this training and see how it fits into a broader vision to tackle systemic poverty in Waco. Prior education stories are available online at www.kwbu.org/news. For KWBU News, I'm Derek Smith.

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