Michelle Poole (MA, University of Toledo) is a new faculty member in the Sociology department. She has significant experience working with the disadvantaged in communities, from housing assistance for the homeless to rehabilitation programs from young offenders. She has a variety of interests that she cares passionately about, and she looks forward to incorporating those into the classroom.
Describe your experiences prior to coming to BSU.
Through the years I have worked for three different agencies. First, I worked at an agency serving the homeless, running a program for young offenders who had got out of jail and didn’t have housing. I worked with clients in the program, helping them find a job, providing them with drug and alcohol treatment, and acclimating them to the community. We could only take between 16-20 people in the program, but I would be responsible for helping them get their life back together and stay sober.
Four years later I became the director of housing programs for Catholic Charities. They had a family shelter that served ten homeless families. They also served between 15-20 families in a permanent supportive housing program for families with disabilities. As the director, I would meet with landlords, fill out HUD grants, and keep track of stats.
My next job was running a really big permanent supportive housing program for homeless with disabilities, both for single people and families. For the family part of the program we had about seven families that I would find housing for in the community. For the individuals I was responsible for 40 apartments in a large building. Each person who lived there had their own lease and their own apartment. In the building we had classrooms and spaces for speakers and job trainers come in, as well as services available on an on-going basis. Unfortunately, it turned out that the building itself had not been built well, and a water leak lead to a mold issue. Despite my best efforts, the owners of the building were uncooperative and refused to take care of it. This resulted in our program losing its funding and I spent a lot of time before that job ended making sure all the people in the program were able to get rehoused. In the end, that nobody ended up without housing was my greatest goal, and I was successful.
What are your research interests?
I am interested in researching Visual Sociology, studying things through images. The two things I love most in life are photography and sociology, so visual sociology fits me very well. One of the ways I’m thinking about it is I want to design a class to teach it.
One thing I want to do research on is the homeless as the medium of photography. I was thinking about going into different communities and studying the issues and resources available for the homeless in that community. Then bringing that research together with pictures of some of the homeless individuals in the community. Through my life and career, I have come across some moments that were such a strong social statement that I wished I could have captured it. The possible long-term goal for this project would be to research several cities in this manner, creating a large-scale study of the causes of homelessness and what’s available to assist them.
What are some of your hobbies/non-academic interests?
I’m very much into fitness: strength training, weightlifting, rollerblading, and biking. I’ve actually been rollerblading for 20 years.
I’m also way into gardening and cooking. I love everything about recipes, I watch shows on cooking. I spend whatever time I’m not doing those other activities on cooking.
I make very elaborate, different recipes. I love finding recipes that are very complicated, and I have tried hundreds and hundreds, so it is hard to say what my favorite is because I make so many different things. My kids still are obsessed with my pumpkin recipes. Anything you can think of pumpkin, I make it.
You can read about Sociology’s other newest faculty member, Dr. Ellen Whitehead.