Joanne Spinoza, 14 years old, is the only child of divorced parents. Involved in a variety of activities, including soccer, cheerleading, the school newspaper, and working at Dynamo Video, a video store, Joanne loves to be a part of the action. She is often home by herself after school since her mom, Lena, works full-time as a real estate agent. Joanne and her mom live next door to the Franklin's.
Joanne’s positive outlook on life is highlighted by her challenging early childhood. Joanne is an abuse survivor. She has received counseling and is a positive example of life after abuse. As her mom is unable to reinforce her positive self image, Joanne still struggles with issues of self esteem. Functioning as a role model for children whose self esteem is so low that they might be enticed to join a gang, Joanne is working on feeling better about herself. She ultimately demonstrates that young people can develop positive self-esteem within a negative home or community environment.
Joanne can be quite naive at times, and her interest in gossip and popular opinion tends to provide Joanne with misinformation about a variety of issues. However, through her openness and her attempts to “do the right thing,” Joanne is representative of children who are searching for the right choice and are willing to learn as they grow.
Joanne is featured in The Kids on the Block program on sexual abuse. Joanne also appears in the programs about autism, childhood cancer, diabetes, Spina Bifida, Substance Abuse, Fire Safety, and Multiculturalism.