Poverty and Education in America

Simpson Colloquium 101

This class will actively examine social class and poverty in the U.S. society, focusing on education and schools as well as race, gender, and citizenship. We will learn how socio-political structures influence poverty, particularly through educational curricula, practices, funding and policies. We will consider questions about living in poverty, the causes of poverty, how poverty affects children in schools and society, and what actions schools, communities, and the government could take to alleviate poverty. We will learn what educators and citizens can do in local communities to support families in poverty. Finally, we will explore what it means to take this knowledge of injustice and use it to teach for social justice and to contribute to social justice through teaching pedagogy, activism, or community service.

Meet Your Professor
Kate Lerseth, M.A.
Instructor of EducationKate Lerseth

I grew up in the very small town of Massena, Iowa. Following high school, I attended NIACC, a small community college to play volleyball. I finished my BA in elementary education at ISU and went on to teach kindergarten in Red Oak, Iowa. During my time at Red Oak, I lead a cohort of fellow teachers to achieve our master’s degrees from Viterbo University in General Education. After the birth of our second daughter, my husband and I reevaluated our life goals and decided to go back to graduate school at ISU. Shortly after starting my doctoral work, Simpson College had a position open in their education department. For the last five years, I have been teaching in this department and completing my doctoral work. I will graduate with a doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction this May!

My time teaching kindergarten really pushed me to look at the experiences of all my students and how we can create schools that are, dare I say, FUN for all students. Creating a safe, interesting, challenging, and fun classroom starts with teacher training. One goal at Simpson is to help my students critically analyze their own teaching to determine who might not fit into the ‘mold’ of public school and what might we educators can do to be an advocate for those students. In every class I teach my passion for education and student learning comes through. One of the most important points that I stress in each class is that teachers make the difference! We can make a topic come alive, create activities that are fun and engaging, and help generate life-long learners.

I live in Indianola with my husband Josh (a Simpson graduate!!) and my two daughters Mia and Maci. I enjoy teaching religious education, leading Camp Fire USA, reading, taking my daughters to soccer, gymnastic, dance, etc…etc…etc..and sitting outside enjoying the weather with friends and family. Since we live so close to campus, we get to attend athletic games, concerts, as well as the many other events that Simpson has to offer!


Meet Your Simpson Colloquium Leader
Kaitlyn Mathiesen12Kaitlyn.Mathiesen

Hello everyone! My name is Kaitlyn Mathiesen and I will be the Simpson Colloquium Leader for “Poverty and Education in America” for the fall of 2013. I am from Waukee, Iowa, which is about 35 minutes away from good ol’ Simpson College! That being said, I get to see my family a lot, which I absolutely love. I am very close to my family, especially my 16-year-old younger brother. I will be a junior this fall and absolutely love it here! I couldn’t imagine going to school anywhere else. I am pursuing a double major in Criminal Justice and Psychology with a minor in  Spanish. On campus I am involved in SARA (sexual assault response advocates), the Simpson College Student Alumni Association, and I will be a CA (community advisor) in the Clinton apartments this coming school year! I absolutely love meeting new people and hearing different stories about why people chose Simpson. I know how crazy the college transition is, so don’t hesitate to ask me any questions! You can reach me by Facebook, Twitter, and of course email. I look forward to meeting you in June!

Meet Your Writing Fellow
Valerie Marlow11Valerie

Hello I am Valerie Marlow but often go as Val. I will be a sophomore this fall. I am going to be a writing fellow and work with the Simpson Colloquium leader Kaitlyn Mathiesen for the SC class Poverty and Education in America. I think this will be an interesting SC class to have great discussions on how poverty and education relate to one another. My job will be to help you transition from your high school writing to your college writing.

I am from Winterset, Iowa about 30 minutes from Indianola. I was involved in soccer, cross country, NHS, student council, yearbook, and FBLA in high school while also working at a grocery store, refereeing soccer, and babysitting. I can definitely say that I like to keep busy.

This year at Simpson, I have focused more on school and allowing myself to have more free time. I had a work study for the Intramural Leagues here and have been working at the grocery in Winterset. Just these few things on top of school work have me busy while still allowing time to hang out with my friends.

If you have any questions feel free to ask me whenever!

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