Pitt-Bradford Professor Presents Workshop on Poverty in Schools

BRADFORD, Pa. – Dr. Donna Dombek, assistant professor of education at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford, presented a workshop on “Poverty: The ‘Quiet Diversity’” at Georgia Southern University.

Dombek made her presentation to increase teacher awareness to subtle prejudices they might have against students of lower socio-economic status.

Most teachers, Dombek said, come from middle-class backgrounds and may not realize that there is a “culture of poverty” as pervasive and distinctive as those of race, language and religion.

“There’s no doubt that lower socio-economic status can affect children,” Dombek said. Those effects can begin even before they are born when women with less income are unable to seek medical attention as early or as often as recommended. In addition, children growing up in poverty are often not afforded experiences such as vacations to other areas or educational toys or software that can enhance their educational opportunities.

“You have to reach that child on his turf,” Dombek said.

Once teachers recognize that students of low socio-economic status and their families may be looking at the world through a different lens, they are better able to address their educational needs.

Dombeck first became interested in the topic as a grant administrator in West Virginia, where she was born, raised, went to college and served as an elementary school teacher and administrator. She has taught at Pitt-Bradford since 2004.

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