Jennifer Stec

School Counselor

B.A., St. Olaf College
M.A., The School of the Art Institute of Chicago
M.Ed., DePaul University

Ms. Stec has worked in education since 2004, first as an art teacher before transitioning into school counseling. She worked in several Chicago public schools before coming to MPA.


Why did you choose to work at Morgan Park Academy?

As a product of a K-12 independent school, having the ability to return to such a nurturing environment is a counselor’s dream. The diversity and global focus of the school was also a big draw. I feel at home surrounded by students, families, and faculty from a variety of cultures and backgrounds.

While waiting for my interview for this position, I overheard a small group of students exchange their experiences from a Project Week trip to Morocco, and I was impressed by how articulate and open to new experiences they were. Their conversation involved the connection they had made with their homestay family and new foods they challenged themselves to try while abroad. What amazing teenagers! To say I was thrilled to become a part of the MPA family is an understatement.

What is the most important life lesson you want students to learn in your class?

In teaching K-5 character education, “Treat others the way you want them to treat you” is by far my most emphasized message.

What experiences or people had the most influence on you?

Raised in the U.S. Virgin Islands, I have survived seven hurricanes, one being Category 5 Hurricane Hugo that left us without power for over 6 months when I was 10. Living on an island, this lifestyle becomes the norm. You become a pro at making do with what you have on hand, rolling with the punches, and finding laughter amidst disaster. I hope that my laid-back demeanor is comforting to students in crisis.

What are some of your interests and hobbies?

Travel is my passion, and at last count I have been to 18 countries. I have chaperoned Project Week trips to China and Japan, and have been delighted to get to know a group of students as fellow travelers, experiencing the highs and lows of being overseas, outside of one’s comfort zone. What a treat to form a bond with a student at that level!

I also love gardening, and during warmer months, you can find me in my yard inspecting my seedling experiments, or weeding, which I find to be extremely calming. I also have two cats, and my students and colleagues know the way to my heart is to ask me about them.