Morgan County teachers get lesson in abject poverty

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PRICEVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - Getting ready for the start of another school year, Morgan County teachers got a lesson in abject poverty today. It was an exercise designed to show teachers the burden some students will carry with them to class.

Each teacher and administrator was assigned a new identity for the exercise. They would either be a parent or a child living in an impoverished home.

"So they can have a better appreciation of the challenges that their students and their families face every single day," according to Kristina Scott, Executive Director of Alabama Possible, the organization providing the exercise.

The participants were faced with meeting basic everyday needs including housing, food, and transportation with little or no income.

"What we see is that people are really shocked. They have no idea how exhausting and stressful it is to be in a low income situation," Scott said.

Each pretend family is actually modeled after a real experience. In one family, the father has run off, leaving his wife and two children with $10 to their name.

Each family must figure out how to make their way, and deal with the consequences of someone's bad decisions. In the end, several families find themselves with no place to live.

"We try to tell our kids you've gotta think while you're in school, you've gotta do your job when you're at school, but they have all these other things on their mind like is momma gonna have food, am i gonna have a ride home from school, where do i go after school? so those are things we kinda lose sight of," says teacher Johnna Ladner.

And that's the purpose of the exercise, awareness, the first step in solving any problem.

23% of Morgan County school children live below the poverty level. 56% qualify for free or reduced lunch.

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