Dr. Ruby Payne

Founder of aha! Process and an Author, Speaker, Publisher, and Career Educator

Ruby K. Payne, Ph.D. is the founder of aha! Process and an author, speaker, publisher, and career educator. Recognized internationally for A Framework for Understanding Poverty, her foundational book and workshop, Dr. Ruby Payne has helped students and adults of all economic backgrounds achieve academic, professional, and personal success. As an expert on the mindsets…

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Ruby K. Payne, Ph.D. is the founder of aha! Process and an author, speaker, publisher, and career educator. Recognized internationally for A Framework for Understanding Poverty, her foundational book and workshop, Dr. Ruby Payne has helped students and adults of all economic backgrounds achieve academic, professional, and personal success.

As an expert on the mindsets of economic classes and overcoming the hurdles of poverty, she has trained hundreds of thousands of professionals, from educators and school administrators to community, church, and business leaders.

Dr. Ruby Payne is available for keynote presentations at conferences and trainings at schools, communities, businesses, etc., for half- and full-day events. She has presented to groups in more than 10 countries and every state in the U.S.

Payne founded aha! Process in 1996 to offer a broad range of training solutions–workshops, consulting, books, and trainings for K–12, higher education, and communities—with a focus on creating sustainable success for everyone.

In the field of education, her career-long goal of offering strategies for successfully raising student achievement and overcoming economic class barriers has become the cornerstone of aha! Process’ K-12 work, used with school districts across the country. Dr. Payne’s work stems from more than 30 years of experience in public schools as a high school department head, principal, and central office administrator of staff development. Sequels to her original Framework book include Research-Based Strategies (2009) and School Improvement: 9 Systemic Processes to Raise Achievement (2010), coauthored with Donna Magee, Ed.D. View K-12 results.

In 2000 she coauthored Bridges Out of Poverty with Philip E. DeVol and Terie Dreussi-Smith as the organization branched out into working toward healthy, sustainable communities. Hear from Bridges Communities in their own words.

Dr. Payne has written and coauthored more than a dozen books besides the bestselling A Framework for Understanding Poverty and Bridges Out of Poverty. Two recent publications are How Much of Yourself Do You Own? A process for building your emotional resources, coauthored with Emilia O’Neill Baker,PhD,, and Bridges to Health and Healthcare: New solutions for improving access and services, coauthored with Terie Dreussi-Smith, Lucy Y. Shaw, and Jan Young, DNSc.

The 5th edition of A Framework for Understanding Poverty: A Cognitive Approach (2013) was given top honors for professional development with the REVERE Golden Lamp Award from Association of American Publishers in 2014. Also, two of her publications were honored in 2011: Removing the Mask: Giftedness in Poverty received a Gold Medal from Independent Publishers in the Education category, and Boys in Poverty: A Framework for Understanding Dropout (Solution Tree Press) received the Distinguished Achievement Award from the Association of Educational Publishers in the Professional Development category. Both titles were coauthored with the late Dr. Paul Slocumb.

Dr. Ruby Payne received a bachelor’s degree from Goshen College in Goshen, Indiana; a master’s degree in English literature from Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan; and doctorate in educational leadership and policy from Loyola University in Chicago, Illinois.

Every successful organization needs a driver, a leader who keeps it focused, hones its vision and nurtures it as a way of developing and maximizing its potential. For aha! Process, Inc., that person is its founder, Dr. Ruby K. Payne.

Ruby has been involved with education since 1972 as a teacher, principal, consultant, and administrator. The lessons learned during those years are the bedrock on which aha! Process, Inc. has been built. Her first book, A Framework for Understanding Poverty, is a powerful tool for educators to use when dealing with children from poverty.

In her book, Ruby discusses the hidden rules that govern how each of us behaves in our social class. Those rules, because they are hidden and only known to those within the group, prove to be a major stumbling block for individuals trying to move to a new social class. Students from poverty often languish in classrooms run by members of middle class because those are the rules that govern.

Ruby has developed this message for seminars and workshops as well. Speaking to approximately 200 groups a year, Ruby is working to spread the word throughout North America that children of poverty need not suffer through an educational system oblivious to their needs. More than educators are heeding her message. Judges, social workers, ministers, community leaders and health professionals are all learning from Ruby’s work.

A gifted synthesizer, Ruby presents her research and observations in such a way that many people experience “eye-opening learning,” enhancing their own abilities to help children of poverty succeed.

Ruby received her B.A. from Goshen (IN) College. She earned a master’s degree from Western Michigan University and her doctorate from Loyola (IL) University.

Ruby Payne founded aha! Process, Inc. (formerly RFT Publishing Co.) in 1996 and serves as its President. She lives in Baytown, Texas, with her husband, Frank, and son, Tom.

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A Framework for Understanding Poverty
This is the workshop with which Ruby Payne started aha! Process… A Framework for Understanding Poverty—Our foundational workshop provides an understanding of the mindsets of different economic classes and a multitude of strategies for working with children from poverty, middle class, and wealth.

Research-Based Strategies—This workshop builds on the shared understanding and relationships of mutual respect learned in A Framework for Understanding Poverty and teaches the learning strategies that enable students to learn vital content while building their cognitive abilities.

Under-Resourced Learners: 8 Strategies to Boost Student Achievement— By identifying the emotional, mental, physical, language, and other resources your students have and need, this workshop helps you design specific interventions, best practices, and methods to help embed success strategies into curricula and into the minds and lives of your students.

Identifying and Serving Gifted Students from Poverty
Our process, with ready-to-use instruments and procedures, helps you identify gifted students from poverty. You’ll also learn how to keep these students in the program and help them to be successful.

Building Strong Communities
Bridges Out of Poverty—This workshop is a powerful tool for change if your school works with families from poverty. Our Bridges offerings give you a way to work with all the stakeholders involved to make a stronger school and community and create opportunities for success.

Collaboration for Kids: Early Intervention Tools for Schools and Communities
This workshop and book describe a simple, straightforward, interactive process for addressing, early in a child’s life, problems that negatively impact education— a process that utilizes the inner strengths of the child and family members.
Meeting AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) with 5 Simple Processes

Learn systemic processes to identify which students need to improve and in what areas, align instruction with standards, and assign time to meet them. Also develop assessments to monitor student growth and identify interventions for students needing additional assistance.

Engage and Graduate Your Secondary Students: Preventing Dropouts
Raise your graduation rate! Begin with assessing the costs of dropping out, then review the underlying causes and characteristics affecting decreased student achievement and retention. Learn strategies to engage students and graduate them.
RtI: Response to Intervention

This session will cover student intervention teams, the rationale behind the RtI mandate, and the intervention process for student achievement.

The R Rules: A Guide for Teens to Identify and Build Resources
The R Rules is a goal-setting curriculum that high school students use to identify individual interests and then move through career exploration and life skill building.
Math or Algebra Strategies

Learn to employ an array of math or algebra mental models to help students grasp abstract concepts quickly and retain more information longer.

Behavior and Classroom Management
Focusing on the under-resourced learner, this session will provide practical strategies for successful classroom management. Option: Use our interactive simulation software.
Parents Workshops

Working with Parents:
Participants will leave this session with dozens of easy-to-implement tips and resources that will build stronger relationships between the school and its families. Also available using our interactive simulation software.

Creating Well-Adjusted Boys at Home and at School:
Based on his book Hear Our Cry: Boys in Crisis, Dr. Paul D. Slocumb assists parents who want to raise boys to become healthy, well-adjusted men who are successful at school, at home, and in personal relationships.

Getting Ahead In a Just-Gettin’-By World for Parents:
This workshop provides a 20-session curriculum that can be used to assist parents in building resources and creating their own plans for stabilizing their lives— all of which can positively impact the lives of their children. This workshop is also available in Spanish.

Understanding Students of Hispanic/Latino Descent and their Parents:
Learn strategies that enable students and parents to foster improved academics and socialization.


Habitat 2014 : Dr. Ruby K Payne


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