Jeannie Foster will represent unique experience on the Board of Education as a 25-year veteran educator, as a single mother of two grown children, and as a community leader. She will combine her deep knowledge of the community, her professional work and her own story to bring a new level of experience to the Board. “I am a reflection of the children and families I serve,” says Jeannie.
Jeannie started her professional career as an early childhood educator. As a teacher, she’s experienced first-hand the challenges that immigrant students and their teachers each experience in a multilingual, multicultural classroom. “I understand the challenges teachers face with a classroom of diverse learners who come from various backgrounds – and the pressure to meet all their needs.”
Building on her experience in the classroom, Jeannie moved to the Wilder Child Development Center, where over 18 years she became a leader in the hands-on work of helping children from birth through school-age and their families find success in a system that may or may not be designed for them. During her tenure at Wilder, Jeannie gathered important experience facilitating diversity training, parent education, negotiating contracts, and using data to shape and correct programs.
In 2015, Jeannie was recruited by Community Action of Ramsey & Washington County to manage Family Services, where she is focused on producing outcomes in core Head Start priorities including family support, child development, education and parent involvement.
Jeanelle Foster is a lifelong resident of St. Paul. She grew up in Frogtown, living in Liberty Plaza with her mom, sister and brother. Jeannie is a Saint Paul Public Schools graduate, attending Hancock Elementary, Highland Park Junior and Highland Park High School.
Raised by a single mother, Jeannie also became a single mom at an early age. She was 16 years old when she had her first child, daughter Jaylana. “I grew up with family abuse and alcoholism and I wanted to remove my daughter from that environment. I knew I had to,” says Jeannie. “Education was the way to do that.”
While Jeannie figured out motherhood and finished high school, she also took the initiative to go to the Boys & Girls Club where she found mentors and role models for herself and her daughter and later, her son Jaylan. “It was there that I found people who said they believed in me and saw my potential for the future. And it made all the difference.”
Jeannie has always maintained a fierce belief in the power of education. After graduating from high school, she attended Bethel College for a year and a half. “I left Bethel College after attending full-time, working full-time and raising my daughter. I didn’t feel confident or capable in that setting because my life was so different than most of the students. I transferred to Saint Paul College to earn my Associates degree” says Jeannie. At Saint Paul College, Jeannie found that she fit in and that she felt that the students’ strengths were acknowledged and encouraged.
Of her degree, she says “I earned my AAS in Early Childhood because of my daughter. I wanted my daughter to have a better life and more opportunities than I had, and I wanted to help other families thrive in the educational system.”
While raising two kids as a single mother and working full-time, she went on to earn her Bachelor’s degree from Metro State University and her Master’s in Education from Concordia University in Saint Paul.
Today, in addition to her leadership role advocating for kids and families at Community Action of Ramsey & Washington County, Jeannie is extremely active in and connected to the community. She’s the Vice Chair of Dayton’s Bluff District Council, where she’s worked hard to address incidents of gun violence in the neighborhood, introduce neighbors to the district council process, and create a Youth Engagement Committee. She’s also active in her church community.
Jeannie has lived a life of commitment to serve kids and their families and to help them succeed in a system that may or may not recognize their strengths. So we often we hear that our District is failing our kids—or a certain portion of them anyways.
Jeannie Foster stands here today as a child of the Saint Paul School District and as a true success story. She had nearly every card imaginable stacked against her growing up, and she overcame every one. Jeannie is proud to stand here today to ask for your support and to show all of Saint Paul that we can serve students like her--and we can serve them well.