Published on November 25, 2014 by Hannah Henderson  
Poverty Simulation

Samford University’s Orlean Bullard Beeson School of Education recently hosted a poverty simulation for education students to help prepare them for working with children and families from all populations upon student teaching and graduation.

The simulation was sponsored by the School of Education’s Diversity Committee. Michele Haralson, director of curriculum materials and technology center and chair of the committee, explained the purpose of the event was to prepare education student to meet the needs of all learners.

“Depending on where they end up teaching, it is very likely our students will work with families in poverty,” Haralson said. “Therefore, it is important they understand the experience of those in poverty as most of our students do not come from this background.”

The simulation included junior and senior leadership teams serving as community workers, while the remaining students played the roles of members of families living in poverty. The activity included several different family makeups living through a month of poverty, which consisted of four 15-minute weeks in the simulation. During the week, the students experienced what it is like for those in poverty to put their children in school and daycare, pay bills, feed their families and get from one place to the other without personal transportation.

Haralson said the participating students completed pre- and post-surveys in order to gather information on the effectiveness of the event.

Senior elementary education major Tabitha Whitacre played a grocery store owner who was charged with collecting food stamps in the simulation but said she learned what it is like for those who live in poverty. “This simulation will always stick with me as it provided a little insight into the lives of families and students I may one day teach.”



About Samford University – Samford University is a premier nationally ranked private university deeply rooted in its Christian mission. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th oldest institution of higher education in the United States. U.S. News & World Report ranks Samford 4th among regional universities in the South. Samford enrolls 5,619 students from 44 states, the District of Columbia and 29 other countries in its 10 academic units: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy, and public health. Samford also fields 17 NCAA Division I teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference.