Jeanynes Bell has traveled a rocky road to graduation.
Teacher Jane Wright said when Bell came to Five Mile Prairie School last year she was struggling with some hard issues, as her family has grappled with drug addiction and mental illness.
Bell is blunt when talking about her difficulties. At age 6 she went to live with her grandparents. They provided a stable home life for her until Bell turned 12. But her troubled journey into adolescence proved trying for all of them.
“I started going through some bad depression,” she said. Her behavior was too much for her grandparents to handle, so Bell tried living with her mother again.
It didn’t work. After a particularly bad altercation the police were called. Bell spent time in juvenile detention and a crisis residential center. In eighth grade she moved to Hutton Settlement Children’s Home.
“I wasn’t sure what it was,” she said. “I thought my mom and I were moving there together. I didn’t know it was a children’s home.”
The angry teen didn’t adjust well, initially. “I hated everything. I hated school. I wanted to die.”
Thankfully, with the help of caring house-parents, her outlook improved. She laughed. “I started brightening up my wardrobe, instead of wearing all black.”
She moved back to her grandparents at the start of junior year, but once more Bell found the transition troublesome. She tried living with her mom again and even returned to Hutton for a short time. “It didn’t work out,” she said.
Bell spent last summer couch-surfing between friends’ homes and her mother’s place, never staying anywhere long. Finally in September, she asked her grandparents if she could move back in with them. They agreed, and Bell enrolled at Five Mile Prairie.
“She’s a very bright girl,” Wright said. “She’s a strong person with strong beliefs.”
Bell loves children and works as a nanny. She’s been awarded a College Bound Scholarship and already knows the career she plans to pursue. “I want to be a drug and alcohol counselor and help kids with family members who’ve abused drugs and alcohol,” she said.
Looking back at her arduous journey and seeing how far she’s come, she said, “I think it will all be worth it in the end.”
Wright has no doubt her student will succeed: “She’s enriched me with her ability to bounce back from the adversity in her life.”