ABERDEEN, S.D. - About 1,250 people heard Dr. Ruby Payne at Northern State University’s sixth annual back-to-school workshop, “A Framework for Understanding Poverty,” Aug. 16 at the Johnson Fine Arts Center Theater.
And about 300 people have registered for a related online course at Northern, said Ronald Brownie, director of Northern's Office of Online and Continuing Education.
"We broke our attendance records for the back-to-school workshop," said NSU Dean of Education Connie Geier. "I've heard rave reviews from participants - that the workshop was very thought-provoking and made them reevaluate how they view poverty."
Payne, who has a Ph.D. in educational leadership and policy studies, is the founder of aha! Process Inc. The company’s mission is to improve the lives and education of individuals throughout the world. That is Payne’s mission as well, and she has trained hundreds of thousands of professionals since 1996.
The workshop illustrated ways teachers can be aware of differences between children from various economic backgrounds and ways they can benefit each other, Geier said.
Payne presented a paradox, that non-financial resources are critical to escaping poverty: emotional, mental, spiritual and physical resources; support systems; relationships and role models.
Educators can influence these non-financial resources that can make a huge difference in students' lives, Geier said.
Payne's presentation highlighted two ways for children to escape poverty: education, and interacting with people from middle-class or wealthy backgrounds. School allows both of those things to happen, Geier said.
"School can show kids that poverty isn't the norm, and it isn't inevitable," Geier said.
Former Northern exchange student Anqi Wang attended the workshop and plans to take the online course.
"I think the principles she mentioned make really good sense, not just for the U.S. but for similar
situations in China," said Wang, who is a graduate assistant in the Office for Online and Continuing
Northern's 1-credit online course will investigate Payne’s strategies of solutions, shared
responsibilities, new insights and interdependence to positively impact the education and lives of
individuals in poverty. The course will include research on the causes of poverty and insights into
economic diversity. It will also address economic stability and the development of resources for
individuals, families and communities.
The course begins Aug. 27; the latest possible registration deadline is Sept. 5.