Welcome to PMA Mr. Gaetjens!

Welcome to PMA Mr. Gaetjens!

Christian Gutierrez


Over the years, Phoenix Military Academy has been home to some of the most hard working staff in the state. The quality of education taught here by teachers has seen PMA recognized as the 8th best school in Illinois. This year, PMA has a new addition to their family, counselor Mr. Jan Gaetjens.

Mr. Gaetjens grew up in Washington to two parents not born in the United States. He was the first American born child to attend college and he did so attending Georgetown University, graduating with a degree in Sociology as well as Conflict, Justice, and Peace Studies. He has had multiple jobs in different fields because his degrees help him have more flexibility in finding a job that he likes.

“ After I graduated, I continued to work in athletics and sports media, working as a writer for several mixed martial arts (MMA) news websites. It was around this time that I also began working in high schools, first as an assistant athletics director and wrestling coach at a school in DC and, later that year, as a long-term substitute teacher,” said Mr. Gaetjens.

In the year of 2013, Mr. Gaetjens decided to move to Chicago to teach at the school Urban Prep. While teaching there, he decided to get his masters in School Counseling and eventually met to ladies that made a big fuss about PMA. The two ladies that mentioned PMA to him were none other than PMA’s current school counselors Mrs. Darci Matz and Ms. Dana Fairchild.

“At the end of last school year, I met Ms. Fairchild and Mrs. Matz, who both hyped up Phoenix as a great place for me to do my field placement, now that I’m in the final year of my Masters program. I came by to visit in the Spring and was really impressed with what I saw out of the students and teachers here, so I knew more or less right away that this was where I wanted to be,” said Mr. Gaetjens.

Mr Gaetjens believes that PMA could be a good school to start of his school counseling career and believes that with the help of two great counselors, he will get a better understanding on how things work. He mentions why he was brought to PMA and what he hopes to accomplish in the current school year.

“This year, I will be working with Mrs. Matz and Ms. Fairchild as a Student Counselor. My primary focuses are helping our seniors with the college application process as well as supporting our freshmen as they make the transition to high school, but I’m also here to be a resource for any students who need help with academics, behavior, finding jobs, applying to summer programs, you name it. You can expect to see me around most Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and I definitely encourage people to swing by my office if only just to say what’s up and introduce themselves,” said Mr. Gaetjens.

As you can see, Mr. Gaetjens is excited to start working with students here at PMA and helping them with anything that troubles them. Now, it is only a matter of time before Mr. Gaetjens becomes a crucial member in the best staff in the state.