Member Spotlight: Kris Ferguson
Each month, we invite DBC members with a connection to our theme to share their personal experiences with us. Interested in sharing your story with the DBC community? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please introduce yourself to the DBC members.
Hi, my name is Kris Ferguson from @readingtinytype I am a 7th grade ELA/SS teacher in Oakland CA.
Why is this month’s topic, poverty, near and dear to your heart?
This months topic is an especially important one to me as I am faced with the realities of poverty on a daily basis in my classroom. I have scholars who’s only meals are the ones given to them at school. They offer arrive in my classroom hungry. I try to always have a variety of granola bars and snacks on hand. I additionally often have to provide school supplies to students who can not afford them. I think dealing with the hunger is the hardest aspect as my scholars become like family and I just want them to be cared for and not going to bed hungry.
Have you read our April selections, Salvage the Bones and Crenshaw? What did you think?
I read both books. I was on a Jesmyn Ward kick at the beginning of the year before this book was announced as a DBC read. It’s definetly a heartbreaking but realistic view of poverty.
I read Crenshaw a while ago before adding it to my classroom library. Jackson’s character reminds me of a few of my students. I love Crenshaw and think it's a convincing look at the social classes and the working poor.
How has poverty played a role in your job as an educator?
I think poverty is ever present in inner city schools and rural schools. But to be honest I’ve dealt with it at every school I’ve taught at, even in suburban upper middle class schools. There will always be a family in need. As an educator I just try to make sure to level the playing field in my classroom and at least make sure my students don’t have grumbling tummies.
In addition, as in the media, teachers really struggle with making our salary stretch. I feel like I make decent money, but since the cost of living is so high in the Bay Area it is a challenge to make my dollars stretch, especially as a single mom of two very active teens.
Do you find there is a stigma around those living with less in our culture? How has this impacted your experience?
I definitely feel there is a stigma around those who are living with less. I feel as though they are seen as less important if they are seen at all.
Is there anything else you’d like our members to know?
I think it’s just important to remember that we are all human. You never know when you yourself may need a hand. I hope that these books will help open the eyes of readers. We all bleed the same, so we all need to take care of one another. Pass out socks or care packages. Make sandwiches, donate your time to a soup kitchen, every little bit helps. It’s not always easy to step outside your box but it matters.