Editor’s note: It was nine years ago when my first story on Jordan Lovett was published on School News Network. My colleagues and I were launching a series on the impact of poverty on our schools when I met Jordan, an outspoken and hardworking senior in Godfrey-Lee Public Schools. She told me about facing homelessness, switching schools several times and the uncertainty of not knowing where basic things, like clothes, would come from. I followed up with her over the years when she was adjusting to and graduating from college. Now, as SNN celebrates its 10th anniversary, I had to check in on her again.
Grand Rapids — It’s 2 p.m. on a Thursday and Jordan Poisson says hello to students she passes in the hallway at Westwood Middle School. She knows them well.
She is on the way to her office as a school counselor, finishing up her workday before heading home to see her husband, Cameron, and their 9-month-old daughter, Maitlynn.
Jordan spends her days working on students’ schedules, leading small groups focused on mental health, friendship and other topics, and talking about college and careers. She plans to bring in guest speakers from different occupations and arrange college visits.
“I’m really trying to get them career-focused,” said Jordan, who started at Westwood last year. “I want them to know that even though they are coming from this rough background, they have options.”
‘My past was hard, but it helped shape me for who I am now. I think it helped make me more successful than I would have been if it was different.’— Jordan Poisson
When Jordan says “this rough background,” she’s referring to her own. In high school, she talked about her goals of going to college and becoming an elementary teacher. She ran track, sang in the choir and performed in the school musical while taking a heavy course load that included dual enrollment Grand Rapids Community College English course and pre-calculus.
But she faced challenges due to housing instability and the constant struggle to make ends meet. Focusing on schoolwork was hard.
She said at the time: “I have to focus on everything, because I’m worried about school and my family and trying to make sure everything is going OK.”
In celebration of our 10th Anniversary, your School News Network team will bring you a wide variety of stories that tie to the decade – like the one here. We’ll re-publish each school district’s first stories and update engaging profiles of students and educators. Additional stories will highlight a decade of change in schools and public education. And we welcome your ideas!
Just email us at SNN@kentisd.org.
Growing Up and Branching Out
Since Jordan graduated from Lee High School in 2015 she has earned her bachelor’s degree in social work from Grand Valley State University and her master’s degree from Spring Arbor University in mental health counseling and school counseling. She also completed an internship at Bowen Elementary School at Kentwood Public Schools, worked at a center that serves children with autism and at summer school at Harrison Park Middle. She hopes to transition to one-on-one counseling.
She and Cameron married two years ago, and Maitlynn was born on Christmas Day. Along with dogs, Ella, an English bull mastiff; Oogie, a pitbull terrier; and Karen the cat, it’s a busy household.
“Adulting is hard,” she said with a laugh. “We bought a house, got married, had a kid. I wouldn’t say we have too many struggles.”
She uses her past as a source of strength and knowledge.
“I think my past helped me a lot,” Jordan said. “I really focus on saving money. We have a rainy day fund. Growing up not having money, I knew that was something I wanted to have for Maitlynn. We’ve already started saving for her.”
She continued: “Yeah, my past was hard, but it helped shape me for who I am now. I think it helped make me more successful than I would have been if it was different.”
Cameron Poisson, who works in heating and cooling, graduated the year before Jordan from Lee High School, where they were known to flirt with each other. They got together the next year.
“She’s done a lot — a lot more than I’ve done. I didn’t go to (college), so just to see her do all the stuff I kind of wish I did is always a good thing to see,” Cameron said. “She pushed through it all. Every time she didn’t want to do something, she still ended up doing it.”
Jordan said former Godfrey-Lee Superintendent David Britten was a big source of support over the years.
“Jordan has certainly demonstrated remarkable resilience and determination in the face of many challenges associated with poverty,” said Britten, who retired in 2017. “I’m sure that having had strong supports and mentors, ranging from school staff to a few members of the community, have helped guide her through some of the doors usually closed to those in poverty, but her strengths seem to have been key in avoiding the trap of low expectations. I couldn’t be more proud of her and I’m certain her teachers, as well as her family are, too.”
Encouraging Others to Explore Pathways
Westwood Principal Erin Anderson said Jordan fills her counseling role in a very positive way.
“Jordan is just that added layer of support in many different realms, not just academic but also… if you’re having a bad day. Everybody knows she is a person you can go to that is consistent.”
Jordan shares her personal story often with Westwood students. She can relate to many of the issues they face.
‘I want them to know that even though they are coming from this rough background, they have options.’– Jordan Poisson
She shows them pathways to becoming doctors, nurses, business people, astronauts —- whatever they are interested in. She tells them about dual enrollment opportunities in high school and scholarships, and engages them in online career exploration.
“Start planning now, even though it seems like it’s far away. Think about how your actions now are going to reflect how people see you in the future. Just because stuff is hard right now doesn’t mean that’s how it’s going to be in the future. This is just a stepping stone to get you to where you need to be …
Keep pushing forward.”