For decades, Sheila Beaudry suffered from a mysterious ailment with no real cure or remedy. It wasn’t until 2013 that she discovered she had a tick-borne illness. Alpha-gal syndrome — known informally as the “red-meat allergy” — is triggered by mammalian meat and other mammal products. It is believed to be transmitted by the lone star tick, the most common tick to North Carolina. Sheila Beaudry
Beaudry is hardly alone in suffering with this allergy; Chatham County is known as a hotspot for alpha-gal and other tick-borne illnesses.
Our Chatham, the Chatham News + Record and more than 50 community members and leaders gathered Wednesday night at Jordan-Matthews High School in Siler City for a nearly two-hour, and often passionate, conversation about poverty’s impact on education.
Sponsored by Mountaire Farms and moderated by News + Record publisher Bill Horner III, the event featured five panelists who are involved with Chatham County Schools in various ways. The panel’s goal was to raise awareness within the community and brainstorm collaborative solutions to the educational struggles of students who grow up in poverty.
Horner pointed out that more than one in five children in the United States live in poverty. Half of Chatham County’s 18 public schools are classified as Title I schools, meaning that they have a high percentage of low-income students. Title I schools are eligible to receive additional state funding to ensure that all students meet certain standards of achievement.
Graphic artist Wendi Pillars sketches out the discussion during Wednesday’s One Chatham event/Charlotte Ririe
Panelist Chris Poston, executive director of elementary and middle grades for Chatham County Schools, said funds are delegated proportionally to Title I schools based on the number of free-and-reduced lunch students who attend the school. This funding is implemented schoolwide, so any student at a Title I school benefits from the additional investment in education.
The panelists discussed at length the educational challenges for children living in poverty.
Panelist Jazmin Mendoza Sosa, who grew up in poverty in Siler City, works for Chatham Communities in Schools, and she serves as the Student Support Specialist at Virginia Cross Elementary School.