New faculty profile: Jenna Aynes

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New faculty profile: Jenna Aynes

Youngseo Jo, Print Editor

Jenna Aynes, Upper School Counselor, joined Annie Wright Upper Schools this year. She previously worked in the Tacoma Public Schools system and earned her bachelor’s degree in communications at Pacific Lutheran University and her master’s degree in education at City University of Seattle. 

Junior Ela Escobar said that she believes the Annie Wright community is positively receiving Aynes. “There’s almost always somebody in her office… I see a lot more positive reception to her than our last counselor,” she said. “She is younger, able to relate to the kids more and she’s more open. She seems less of an authority figure.” Inkwell caught up with Aynes earlier this week.

Inkwell: Could you tell us about your career? 

Aynes: I went to college for communications, PR and advertising and I graduated and worked at an insurance agency. I volunteered with a high school youth group and I went back to school for education and became a counselor. I worked in public schools before this doing restorative coaching, which is conflict resolution and mediation. Then I did restorative counseling, which is more like group counseling and guidance lessons. 

Inkwell: How did you come to Annie Wright and why? 

Aynes: At the last school I was at there was a reduction in force so I got ‘riffed;’ basically I lost my job because of public funding. I applied to any counseling position that came up from here to Puyallup. Annie Wright came up and my best friend works here, Alicia [Director of Auxilary Programs Alicia Mathurin]. She always tells me how great it is. So I applied but I thought there was no way I could get this job. I went to Wilson and PLU and there were stigmas about Annie Wright coming from a public school, and I felt that I wasn’t good enough for Annie Wright. 

Now that I’m here, my quality of life is so much better. Everyone here is so nice and caring to me as an employee and the kids are so sweet. I feel valuable here as a staff member. My quality of life increased significantly since I started working here. 

Inkwell: What was one amazing experience that you had?

Aynes: I have a few. The first one was graduating from undergrad, PLU, because I was the first one from my family to graduate from college. It was a very emotional thing for my family. My whole family was there and they were crying their faces off. 

While I was in college, I got in a really bad car accident, that’s how I got this scar here [pointing to a scar on her chin]. I got hit by a semi truck in my car. I had to stop school for a while. I was discouraged and it was a really dark time in my life. To go through court, a giant car accident, rehab, it was such a significant time that I felt like I pushed through and made it. 

Having my daughter. I was pregnant in grad school and had my daughter while in grad school. So that was very challenging, but I feel like she is really smart now because she sat through all my graduate classes. I haven’t felt more like a beast in my life when I was pushing out a kid. And that’s how I felt when I graduated college. 

Inkwell: Do you have anything you want to share with the student body that they might not already know? 

Aynes: I went to the Junior Olympics for competitive jump roping. I got sixth in the nation for jump roping. I would have jump rope club here if I had time or the weather gets nice. I can ride a unicycle as well. I’m like a traveling circus. 

I’m Japanese, I tell kids when I talk to them. My grandma is Japanese, my mom is Japanese. Another fact that is a part of who I am is that I never met my dad. He doesn’t know I exist, at least that’s what I’ve been told. It makes me who I am and I appreciate it. 

Inkwell: Is there any messages you want to tell the student body? 

Aynes: The message I want to tell the students is that you know yourself the best…counselors are always thought of as giving advice to people, but my job is to listen and help them solve their problems because they know themselves the best. So I think the best message is that you know yourself the best and should stick with that in your years here. There will always be decisions that you will have to make and you have to remember you know what is best for you despite what anyone around you says.