Student Poverty/Trauma Initiative gets $1,000 for resources to run St. Lawrence County-based program
Tuesday, July 11, 2017 - 2:49 pm

From left, attorney Edward A. Betz, institute director Don Mesibov, attorney Preston C. Carlisle,  author April Charleson attorney William W. Carlisle, and attorney Lloyd G. Grandy II.

The Student Poverty/Trauma Initiative will use a $1,000 donation to provide resources to staff teams from each of the group’s districts.

Among that will be copies of a book by April Charleson, a Massena middle school teacher who was raised in poverty and has written poems detailing her experiences in classrooms and at home. The cash came from Carlisle Law Firm.

On July 20 and 21, 59 educators representing 14 schools in seven school districts will launch the Poverty/Trauma Initiative at the Constructivist Conference at St. Lawrence University. School districts represented will include Chateaugay, Gouverneur, Lake Placid, Malone, Massena, Norwood-Norfolk, and Ogdensburg. Teams of staff from Colton-Pierrepont, Copenhagen and Tupper Lake have been participating in the initiative for almost a year, according to institute director Don Mesibov. Saranac Lake and Watertown may join the Initiative in the fall as well as a team of special education teachers from St. Lawrence-Lewis BOCES.

A legislative grant provided by Assemblywoman Addie Jenne, D-Theresa, helped launch the initiative last fall.

“While there are many wonderful programs to support people in poverty, most focus on housing, nutrition and other important aspects of poverty, but there are few programs with our focus which is solely on the role of the teacher and building administrator in addressing the unique needs of these students,” Mesibov said in a news release. “Yet, who is the adult that most of these students spend more time with than any other person, sometimes even including their parents?”

“We work through teams of three or more staff members in a school to reach an entire faculty,” said Jim Waterson, who along with Mesibov co-facilitates the initiative. “The Carlisle donation will go a long way toward supporting our efforts because we are functioning on a tight budget.”