Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department or School

Teacher Education

Committee Member

Valerie Polakow, PhD, Chair

Committee Member

Rebecca Martusewicz, EdD

Committee Member

Patricia Pokay, PhD


This qualitative study examines the challenges of poverty through the stories of students and their families in one Michigan elementary school. The goal was to explore the needs, challenges, and obstacles confronting children in poverty in a small Michigan town by focusing on the perspectives and experiences of low-income students and their parents/guardians. Two families and one teacher were interviewed in depth, using open-ended, semi-structured interview techniques. Two case studies were constructed from the content of the interviews, and key thematic findings that emerged revealed ongoing stress, fear, sadness, and frustration with which the children lived, as well as strong resilience and determination. These key themes are analyzed in relation to the effects of poverty on school children and their caregivers. The study concludes with recommendations for educators that could help low-income children succeed in school.

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