The Jobe Middle School staff took part in a poverty simulation experience based on a program by the Missouri Association for Community Action where "participants role-play the lives of low-income families, from single parents trying to care for their children to senior citizens trying to maintain their self sufficiency on Social Security."
The task of each family is to provide food, shelter and other basic necessities during the course of four 15-minute "weeks" while interacting with various community resources.
The community resource volunteers in this simulation included Mansfield ISD administrators and support staff. Resource volunteer roles included a police officer, utility collector, pawnbroker, grocer, mortgage/rent collector, Quick Cash manager, social service caseworker, Community Action worker, employer, child care worker, schoolteacher (played by school namesake, Linda Jobe), faith-based agency staffer, and a bank/loan officer.
After the simulation, the staff "families" held a debriefing period during which participants shared amongst themselves and the larger group their thoughts about what they learned and specific impressions on the exercise.
A few of the insights shared by the staff included:
- Most of us were doing what we could just to make it.
- Many people are victims of circumstance.
- I was scared to death of losing my job.
- It was a rough experience.
- We didn't know what to do, but we wanted to do the right thing.
- Thinking about the children in class and their families, it became apparent how challenging it must be.
- This was such a learning experience.
- Children with no food will have a difficult time just sitting quietly at home or learning in school.
- Unexpected circumstances can have a directly negative impact on the classroom experience.
- Feelings of helplessness are a reality for many.
Linda Jobe Middle School staff members are invited to provide any additional feedback from the poverty simulation via comments.