Pasco Teachers Learn About Poverty in the Classroom - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Pasco Teachers Learn About Poverty in the Classroom

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PASCO, Wash. - Hundreds of Pasco teachers are getting a jump start on the school year with some learning of their own. A workshop at the TRAC this week is offering an inside look at poverty in the classroom.

At several schools in the Pasco School District, 90% of students fall below the poverty level. At some schools that number is even higher. 

According to the experts, for kids in poverty, it's a flip of a coin chance they will graduate high school: 50/50.

"We have to change that. My job is to help provide the teachers with the schools, the tools, the attitudes, that they need to help every kid graduate either job ready or college ready," said school consultant Eric Jensen.

Jensen teaches teachers from his own experiences as a child. He had a rocky childhood himself and dealt with a lot of the stress that's commonplace for Pasco students.

"What that means is, children come with some challenges and ask a lot of our teachers as well, so we do need to be equipped with the best strategies to really meet their social, emotional and academic challenges," said Mark Twain Elementary Principal Valerie Aragon.

Hunger, lack of proper care and discipline are some things Pasco teachers see every day.

"The idea behind this is to provide skills they don't have. Provide them the mindset they don't have, help build the attitudes they don't have and give them lots of encouragement and develop support systems," said Jensen.

Jensen believes in teaching kids how to do things rather than just telling them. He said he wants to help teachers build their students' memory skills and show them how to build hope, too.


"We're going to go in and tackle it differently. We're going to use all the little tools that we have in our toolbox and just take this, the brain research, everything we're learning about stress, the strategies," said Bilingual Facilitator Raquel Martinez.

"I'm hopeful. I'm hopeful that we can really start to make some significant changes to increase our performance of our children," Aragon said.