PCHAS Staff Profile – Gayle Jordan

PCHAS Staff Profile – Gayle Jordan, Advanced Education Coordinator

by Jared Scott Tesler and Margaret Barry

When Gayle Jordan was 14 years old, her mother, who was single and working two jobs, made a very difficult call to Presbyterian Children’s Homes and Services (PCHAS) in Itasca.  She had decided that though she tried her best to provide for Gayle and Gayle’s younger sister, her daughters would be better off living in a PCHAS Group Home. “I’ve always admired my mother for being such a hard worker. She worked as a secretary from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at one company, then from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. at another,” said Gayle. “I also admired her for calling PCHAS—for realizing ‘My daughters deserve more than I can offer them at this time,’” said Gayle.

When she arrived at the Group Home, Gayle was a shy and self-doubting teenager. But with support from her Group Home parents and other PCHAS staff, she earned good grades in school, became a varsity cheerleader and was crowned homecoming queen. Gayle knew early on that a college education would open the door to opportunities her mother did not have. After college, she worked as an elementary school teacher and served as Director of Development for Ovilla Christian School. In 2006, she was recruited by PCHAS and served as a Development Officer.

Gayle was a successful fundraiser but she missed the education field. Now a certified school counselor with a master’s degree in education, she serves as PCHAS’ Advanced Education Coordinator and helps the next generation of Group Home residents graduate from high school and go to college. “I try to give the children in PCHAS’ care the language, vision and hope of going to college. My job is to help them realize their strengths and recognize their potential,” she says.

According to a New York Times article, “Out of Foster Care, Into College,” published November 3, 2013, two-thirds of children in foster care never go to college and very few graduate. Gayle is hopeful that children in PCHAS’ care will defy this trend. Every four to six weeks, she hosts workshops for high school juniors and seniors on PCHAS’ Group Home campuses to help them understand the benefits of receiving a college education. She helps them apply for financial aid, takes them on campus visits, helps move them into their dorm rooms, attends their graduation ceremonies—basically everything a parent would do for a child in college. She’s their life coach and mentor.

“What drives me in the work I do is seeing students’ potential and helping them achieve their goals. They don’t all graduate from college, but if it’s one out of ten, that means somebody’s life has been changed,” Gayle said. “Part of providing Christ-centered services to children in need involves showing those in our care that they are beloved children of God. I see these students not for who they are today but for who they can become according to God’s plan.”

Photo: Gayle Jordan with Shannon, one of this year’s high school graduates.