Teaching Literacy with Poverty in Mind

. February 18, 2014.

Eric Jensen and Stephanie Roth are putting their hands together to make sure children in Findlay are getting the education they need to succeed, no matter the circumstances.

Eric, president of Jensen Learning, is bringing his program, Teaching Literacy with Poverty in Mind, from the shores of Hawaii to Flag City, and will present it in a two-day staff development training session through the Findlay City School district in November.

Jensen says he’s always loved teaching and still does, the only difference is now he teaches teachers instead of middle school kids, “same job, same love of the job.” He added that students everywhere need the same ingredients to be successful at learning. When working with kids from poverty, he says we must first avoid any judging. Second, be good at figuring out what they need to succeed and, finally, be relentless in the process of ensuring student success to make sure they are either graduate job ready or college ready.

Stephanie Roth, director of Elementary Instruction for Findlay City Schools, says Jensen has identified classroom strategies to improve the learning abilities of economically-disadvantaged children. The poverty level in the public school system is defined by the number of students that receive reduced cost or free lunches based on state and federal income guidelines. Studies have shown that poverty does affect a child’s ability to learn. The old school of thought said you can’t change IQ, you were born with it, Stephanie said. Now science and research says you can change the brain through strategies, and teachers can use those strategies to enhance their teaching methods, she added.

Nearly 40 percent of Findlay Public School students are not learning at the level of other students, said Stephanie, who adds that current programs are not helping to close the gap effectively.

Findlay-Hancock County Community Foundation announced last November that their Board of Trustees awarded $8,000 as a HancockREADS grant, to cover the cost of the “Teaching Literacy with Poverty in Mind” training.

Without a doubt, Eric and Stephanie’s efforts to make sure every student gets the education they deserve will make a difference in the community.