Centre News

Getting to know...the CTL’s Jami Powell

December 9, 2010
Jami Powell Jami Powell, interimdirector of the Center for Teaching and

Powell Powell (pictured here at the Grand Canyon), enjoys “nature and
any kind of outdoor activity.”
1. Position at Centre?
I'm currently the interim director of the CTL (Center for Teaching and Learning).

2. Where did you grow up (and describe the place in one phrase or sentence)?
Born and raised right here in Danville, I’m a true “townie.” (I had to leave it for a good while before I could love it though.)

3. What are your hobbies?
Nature and any kind of outdoor activity; fitness and sport (running, biking, tennis, soccer); all things music; reading and writing; most things technology; foreign films and kooky documentaries (thank you, Netflix!)

4. What is your dream vacation?
Start in Scotland and slowly pub-crawl my way south through Wales and England. Catch a ferry to France and backpack meanderingly across Europe toward Russia. Dilly-dally a bit in Moscow and eat my weight in blini (Russian pancakes.) Hop the Trans-Siberian railway and get off somewhere in Mongolia to live in a yurt for a few months. Come back at some point, I guess.

5. Favorite artist and/or work of art?
Goya because he scares me and makes me feel beautifully small. Eduardo Kingman for the way he did hands.

6. Favorite book or poem?
I always have books around me and I’m usually reading a couple of things at once. A few favorites: Philip Roth’s The Plot Against America, Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild, H.G. Well’s The War of the Worlds, Erik Larson’s The Devil in the White City, Philip Pullman’s trilogy His Dark Materials, Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma

7. Favorite sport (to watch or play)?
I love The Beautiful Game—soccer, especially European football (English Premier League and Spanish La Liga.) I love playing it as well but as much as my soul enjoys participating in this artistic sport, it’s very hard on my body.

8. Favorite TV show?
My favorite old TV shows are The Andy Griffith Show and Little House on the Prairie. (I wanted to be Laura Ingalls so badly!) Current TV shows I like: American Pickers and Modern Family.

9. Favorite album?
This is a hard question for a music lover, so I will answer chronologically; favorite album as a child: Kiss, Destroyer. (Yes, I was a six-year-old with my face painted like Peter Criss. So what?) Junior high: Duran Duran, Rio. High school: Led Zeppelin, Houses of the Holy. College: Jane’s Addiction, Nothing’s Shocking. Post-college: Weezer’s blue album (debut). My 30s: White Stripes, Elephant. Current: the Tor/Sufjan Stevens mashup masterpiece, Illinoize. (It’s free – go download it!)

10. Favorite holiday?
Thanksgiving—for the food, the sentiment and the glorious lack of consumerism.

11. Favorite food?
Simple, natural, unprocessed foods and dishes made from them. I don’t require fancy—just quality. And if I had to pick a favorite food, it would be good bread. (Oh, and good chocolate!)

12. Most prized possession?
Probably my Matchbox and Hot Wheels. I have an extensive collection of cars from the 70s and 80s (when they were still made out of real metal.) Some girls played with dolls—I played with my cars and created elaborate communities using each car as a character with a name and a reputation. (I am indeed an only child…)

13. Three people, living or deceased, who you’d invite to the same dinner party?
Boudicca (to confirm her awesomeness in person), C.S. Lewis (to talk for a few hours), and my grandfather (because I miss him like crazy)

14. Favorite aspect of your job?
I sincerely enjoy taking individual components of technology and arranging and configuring them to create accessible, intuitive and functioning technical environments. The “design-build-use” process of technology implementation is exciting! (But I often equate it to creating a kind of monster—a sweet, loving, well-intentioned, perhaps even handsome monster who walks around steadily enough and does my bidding for a while but who eventually blows a circuit and lets loose on the innocent townspeople all while I’m fumbling to find the master power switch or pop out the battery before someone gets hurt.)

15. Most memorable experience of your youth?
Spending every Saturday morning with my grandfather—he would pick me up and we’d head out on short, local road trips. We’d ride around in his old white pickup truck, watching for animals and birds, and visiting some of his farmer friends out in the country. At lunchtime, we would stop at a café called the Bun Boy for steaming cups of black coffee (for him) and a small Coke and cheeseburger (for me.)

16. What would you be doing if you weren't working at Centre?
Making a documentary film about yard sales or writing a book examining the competitive, clique-like environments of small town denominational churches. Yes, really.

17. Educational experience that's been most helpful to you?
I struggled terribly with math until my life was almost literally saved by a wonderful high school math instructor, Ms. Roberts. I will never forget her patience and creativity in getting my brain to finally kick in to some sort of functioning math “gear.” She didn’t feel sorry for me or barely pass me in her classes out of pity—she just spent a lot of time working with me until I got it. And for that, I am eternally thankful. The day I passed the last math class I would ever have to take (a college calculus class with a B, I might add), I called her with the good news. I was like the Rocky Balboa of math and Ms. Roberts was my Mickey!

18. Fictional character in whose shoes you’d love to spend a day?
I’m deviating from the question a bit by answering that I’d love to be a bird for a day, specifically either a peregrine falcon (for the speed and agility) or a hummingbird (for the sassy factor and stamina.) I’d love to experience what it’s like to fly using my own bodily power.

19. Favorite place on campus (and why)?
My favorite place on campus is the restroom on the fifth floor of Grant Hall. Just between you and me, time stands still there.

20. Advice you'd give to a first-year college student to make success more likely?
Two things that will improve 95 percent of life’s situations: Always show up on time (if not a bit earlier) and always read the directions carefully.

Have comments, suggestions, or story ideas? E-mail Leigh Cocanougher with your feedback.

Founded in 1819, Centre College is ranked among the U.S. News top 50 national liberal arts colleges. Forbes magazine ranks Centre 24th among all the nation's colleges and universities and No. 1 among all institutions of higher education in the South. Consumers Digest ranks Centre No. 1 in educational value among all U.S. liberal arts colleges. Centre alumni, known for their nation-leading loyalty in annual financial support, include two U.S. vice presidents and two Supreme Court justices.
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