Favorite school subject leads Stokes to teaching career

Elizabeth Letkiewicz, Staff Reporter

Jenna Stokes had no idea of knowing what she wanted to do after high school. She recalled a visit with her high school counselor when she was trying to pin down what she wanted to do after college, so the counselor asked Stokes to write down her favorite subjects.

Stokes wrote: lunch and P.E.

The latter subject ended up becoming a career for her. Stokes is the new advanced activities teacher at Elk Grove High School.

She’s a Prospect High School alum from Arlington Heights, and she has competed in an abundance of sports during her high school years including soccer, cross country, track and field and bowling.

As a way to earn money as a Prospect student, she was a swim instructor, as she said she loved working with younger people better.

It was a rewarding experience for her to see when her students learned a new skill in swimming.

“This sparked my love for teaching and because I have always loved sports,” Stokes said. “It fit well together.”

She ran cross country and track for the longest of the aforementioned sports, and she was a triple jumper for track.

In high school, she was also a freshman leader. Her job was to help the freshmen on their first day of school by giving them a tour of the building and helping with their lockers.

Stokes student taught at EGHS in the fall 2017 semester and finished college at the Eastern Illinois University in December 2017, when she immediately received a job offer in Phoenix. She taught physical education from kindergarten to eighth grade.

Thankfully, she didn’t travel to Arizona by herself, as she spent time with some of her college friends.

“It was a good experience and I learned a lot,” Stokes said.

Despite it being a good experience in Arizona, Stokes knew she wanted to be closer to her family and home. Stokes enjoyed student teaching, the physical education program and the teachers she worked with.

So when the opportunity came to teach at Elk Grove, she didn’t hesitate.

As a teacher, Stokes says she likes working with the teachers around her. Physical education teacher Brian Lee is her mentor, and Stokes co-teaches advanced activities with Stacy Strama-Lacni during seventh period.

And because advanced activities is a big class, it offers more options for games and it becomes more competitive.

“I enjoy working with Stokes,” Strama-Lacni said. “She’s doing a great job, and the students like her as well.”