Columbia teachers working to engage students living in poverty

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COLUMBIA - Columbia elementary school teachers are implementing new ways of teaching, geared toward students growing up in poverty. This comes after select teachers attended a conference on student poverty this summer. 

At the conference, teachers learned more about the impact they have on student success. 

"In the study they show that there are 138 factors that impact student success and that the top ten were related to teachers and their instruction and how they made kids feel," said Derby Ridge Elementary School teacher Kristina Neurohr.

Neurohr is one of the teachers who went to the conference. She is now implementing the new techniques she learned there in her own second grade classroom. She said one new idea is engaging the children as much as possible. 

She also said showing them their own strengths will help. 

"Part of it is changing [the students'] narrative. So showing them that you believe in what they can do and that you know that there's something out there for them and getting them to believe in that too," Nuerohr said.

Part of what the initiative includes focusing on "empathy" rather than "sympathy". This includes maintaining high standards for all students, but understanding each student has a different situation. 

Eleven other teachers went to the conference with Nuerohr. They are currently training teachers at their own schools but plan to expand that to include all Columbia elementary schools too.