Doull Elementary School in Denver, Colorado has an unusually high population of students from low-income families. 92% of the children are part of a subsidized lunch program at school because their parents cannot afford to send them with packaged lunches.
Kyle Schwarz, a third grade teacher at the school, wondered what else her students went without at home. She knew this would be a difficult question to pose, and if asked directly, the children might not be able to answer it, so she came up with a creative way to make her query.
In her class, she asked the kids to answer the question “What do you wish your teacher knew?” and set up bulletin board, where the children could anonymously post their answers when no one was looking.
Kyle expected to get some sad, heart-wrenching answers, but even she, was not prepared for the plethora of problems that her students turned out to be facing every day at home. Some of the most heartbreaking responses included children admitting that their parents were hardly ever around, that they did not have food at home, or pencils to do their homework, or that they were being bullied in class when Kyle was not looking. Reading through many of the notes made Kyle’s heart break, and it will break your heart too.
Sadly, getting the answers to her little survey was only the first step. Now Kyle is left with the much bigger task of communicating the children’s needs to school board officials and together, they will have to endeavor to find even more creative solutions to the children’s bigger problems. Knowing the trials her kids face at home and at school will certainly help Kyle revise her teaching methods in the meantime though.
Some of the issues are readily fixable, such as sending the children home with pencils, being more attentive to the subtle signs of bullying in her class, or being more lenient with missing parent signatures on homework assignments, but many of the problems the children listed will take much longer and more intense methods to try to fix. Even still, getting these answers was an important first step, and we applaud Kyle for caring enough to find them out.