WSUV program provides needed stability for local youths

first_imgErik Smith, who recently earned his master’s degree in teaching from Washington State University Vancouver, serves as program coordinator for At Home At School. http://athomeatschool.orghttp://www.clark.wa.gov/farmA few years back, during a summer school demonstration of a working solar oven constructed from cardboard and aluminum foil, Susan Finley noticed one little girl taking remarkably detailed notes.Finley asked the girl why she was copying everything so carefully. The answer was, a solar oven could cook food for her family, which was all but homeless and living in a local campground. They couldn’t even afford firewood, Finley learned.“You can’t make assumptions about the kids who are in At Home At School,” said Finley, an associate professor of education at Washington State University Vancouver who launched the program just over a decade ago. “You can’t even assume they all have working stoves and ovens.”At Home At School got started in 2002 when Finley, whose scholarship centers on the education of underserved, impoverished students, heard from a local homeless shelter that the place was seeing a spike in families with school-aged children. Children who are homeless or impoverished — whose families are always on the move, dealing with want, coping with unpredictable circumstances — can have a tough time staying in school, she said, and even when they manage it, they don’t feel “at home at school.”Their peers don’t really understand them. Harried educators may not bother with them. Finley recalled one homeless boy who was assigned to a new classroom and was immediately seated in the very back by his teacher, who figured — accurately — that the boy wouldn’t be there longer than two weeks.last_img

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