A Conundrum

The following is a message from Summit Education Initiative Executive Director Derran Wimer. It appears in the April 2017 “Align & Engage” enewsletter.
Education helps solve the effects of poverty, yet poverty is the biggest challenge for education.
I am convinced education is the most important key to escaping poverty. Without a great education, your chances of escaping poverty or even moving up in socioeconomic class are slim. 
Akron Public Schools student in classroom

Photo: Akron Public Schools

I am equally convinced poverty remains the biggest obstacle to education. Talk to any teacher and they will tell you that the effects of poverty challenge them every day. They will also tell you that deep down they believe that THIS IS WHY THEY TEACH… to help students aspire, achieve and ascend. Teachers know that a great education gives a child the best chance for a more prosperous future.

Teachers will also tell you that if there are a few children in each classroom who come from poor families, they can really make a difference. However, when the numbers of poor children grow in the classroom, the weight of effects of poverty multiply, and the task before the teacher becomes even more challenging.

Helping a few children get a snack or meal, warm clothes or shoes that fit, and giving them support because their home life was unsettled or felt unsafe last night, is all part of being a teacher. It is not a big deal to give a few children a free book or two to keep at home to read each night. It becomes a much bigger challenge when you have many more children who do not have enough food, safety, shelter, warmth or academic resources at home. Most often, the parents and caregivers are doing their best, but their lives are harried and sometimes discouraging. It becomes nearly impossible to give the undivided attention children so desperately need, while trying to make ends meet and keeping up with bills and daily life demands when your resources are stretched so thin.

Akron Public Schools classroom

Photo: Akron Public Schools


Schools cannot do it alone. Schools need our involvement and support. It does not have to be during school time or in the school. It can be in the neighborhood, church, after school program, summer camp or at your place of business.

The Cavs had a great run last season and one of their themes was “all in.” That seems like a good theme for all of us to rally around our children and their families. Let’s be “ALL IN” by supporting those who need the most support. If we truly aspire to break the cycle of poverty, then we must act now. We must get involved now.

There are dozens of opportunities: Get involved with the United Way of Summit County and their soon-to-be-released Bold Goals; get your business aligned with the efforts of ConxusNEO and their work to support the Akron Public SchoolsCollege and Career Academies; volunteer to read to a child this summer through the City of Akron‘s summer reading program; or simply call your neighborhood school principal and ask how you can help just one child.