From JP Mom to JP Teacher

Adrianee Powell was one of the first residents of the JP St. Paul campus. Now, she’s the campus’s newest early childhood teacher.

Adrianee Powell, the newest Child Development Center (CDC) teacher at JP St. Paul, believes smiling is therapeutic and a sign of a good time — and she makes it a point to bring big smiles to her early childhood classroom!

She’s also a 2009 JP St. Paul alum.

While an English major and sociology minor at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, she became pregnant and found out about Jeremiah Program. She was part of the first group of moms to live in the newly built St. Paul campus, and now she is excited to come full circle as an active alum and JP staff member.

In this Q&A, Adrianee shares her experience from her time as a JP mom, her career journey, and her plans for her JP classroom.

Adrianee and her daughter at their JP graduation in 2009
What was your experience like as one of the first JP St. Paul moms?

When I was a JP mom, I learned valuable life skills that I had not known before. Before JP, I never even had bills to pay or rent (since I was living on campus prior to moving in). Back then, there were life skills classes that ranged from finance to parenting and even politics. I learned about being a leader as well. Living with all young women can be difficult, but if you are a person on campus who blazes their own trail, it helps other moms as well.

What do you remember about your child’s experience in the St. Paul CDC?

My daughter was in the infant room. It was very peaceful in that room, and the teachers were very caring. They gave me compliments about how I took care of my daughter. That boosted my confidence because, before my daughter, I had never even babysat for an infant. It helped me figure things out on my own instead of calling my mom. My daughter was always happy and clean every time I would pick her up.

How did JP impact your journey as a mom and college student

As a JP mom, education is a big focus. If I was having issues, I could talk to my coach, and she would encourage me to study while my baby was sleeping. I did not have the best studying skills, and creating a schedule to study never crossed my mind. Being in JP made college easier for me. I didn’t have to worry about my daughter while I was in school because I knew she was safe. Back then, there were rules about having company, so it helped me focus on myself.

What was your life’s journey like after you left JP?

After leaving JP, I did work with the alumni group for a short while. I worked at a consulting firm, and then I suddenly had an interest in teaching — something that surprised many people in my life. I started off as a nanny, and then I started working for child care centers and continued to move up within those places.

“I am looking forward to making the toddler room a safe and fun space for the children. They deserve a happy teacher, and I am here to give that to them.”

What led you to the early childhood education profession?

I stayed at home with my daughter when I was not working through a temp service. We would go to different libraries and do puzzles and a lot of learning games. She was reading by age 4! I saw I had a great knack for teaching small children, and I try to make it fun! I’ve worked in early childhood education for the past seven years now.

What led you back to JP?

I was recruited, and those memories of how much JP did for me came flooding back: how happy I was to have my own apartment for the first time, the way I was cared for by the moms, and the connections we made. I tell current JP moms I was a former resident, and they are always shocked. It helps keep them going. The hard work is worth it!

How does your experience with a child in the CDC years ago affect how you work with JP kids and moms in the CDC now?

I remember the nurturing and how kind the teachers were. We don’t have to know everything a family is going through, but we make sure to create a safe space for children in the CDC. You never know how much that can help a family.

What are you most looking forward to in your role as a JP St. Paul CDC teacher?

I am looking forward to making the toddler room a safe and fun space for the children. They deserve a happy teacher, and I am here to give that to them. I love to watch their eyes light up just by singing a simple song or even saying, “Yay!” when they have accomplished something. Secondly, I look forward to continuing to share my story so it can reach more women.

This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.

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