A mother's sacrifice

Stephanie Ortiz, 32, was born and raised in Philadelphia. As Stephanie got older, she realized that Philadelphia was not the place where she wanted to raise her children. She is a single mother of three young boys. Her oldest Lavar, 14, her middle child Jayden, 11 and her youngest Channing, 7.

She did not attend college after graduating from high school. Stephanie immediately began looking for jobs to provide for herself.  Now, in order to provide for her family, Stephanie has to work long shifts at the post office. Stephanie says it is hard to be a single mother with three boys, who have doctors appointments to attend and who love to do extracurricular activities.

She finds it difficult to support the boys in all that they do but she tries to manage her time wisely. Her job at the post office makes it difficult to leave work early if one of her children is sick, has an emergency or any other major situation. She hopes that she will find a job that both pays her more and also understands that her children depend on her. Stephanie believes that although being a single mother has its challenges financially, there is a way to make it happen.

Photography and Written by: Alliyah Maduro

Life at home affects children at school

According to Education State University, since 1998 there have been 13 million children in the United States that live on the poverty line. Living in poverty can affect a child’s performance in school.  Students might not have the supplies needed for school or may be more focused on the meal they will eat at school because there is no food at home. Food insecurity and being unprepared are just a few of the disparities a student can face when schools don’t recognize the individual backgrounds or home-life connected to their student body. 

There are many factors connected to home-life affecting a child’s behavior and academic success in school. Some factors are a parent’s attitude about the importance of school, traumatic situations and socioeconomic status. 

Some children also come from food-insecure homes. Coming from a food-insecure home means the child may not know when they will eat their next meal. This has a major impact on children's learning abilities in school. The child may not be able to focus in class because they are in pain from hunger or do not have the energy to participate in classroom activities. This can result in the child not being able to pay attention or perform to the best of their ability.  Children whose families fall below the poverty line are more likely to repeat a grade.  Food insecurity affects millions of children across the United States. Food programs like Feeding America, partner with school districts to give food to the students who are food insecure. 

Children who experience or witness violence may experience a long-term impact on their performance in school. In most cases, students who experience or witness violence at home are more likely to exhibit behavioral problems in school. Violence at home can lead the child into an unstable home-life, perhaps even leading to the foster care system.  Child Mind Institute states that as an educator, it can be difficult to address children who have been through trauma because they express their feelings through aggression in the classroom. As an education professional, it is essential to know the symptoms of trauma to give the proper support to the student. 

According to Childmind, a few symptoms of a student with trauma experiences are: 

  • Trouble forming relationships with teachers
  • Poor self-regulation
  • Negative thinking
  • Hypervigilance
  • Executive function challenges

If you are an education professional and know of students who are experiencing food insecurity reach out to FeedingAmerica.

If you know students or if you are an educator, here are some education professional tips to help those students who are going through trauma reference EduTopia.

Written by: Alliyah Maduro

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