Monett High School adds Jobs for America's Graduates program next fall

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MONETT, Mo. (KY3/KSPR) - Monett High School will be one of the latest schools to add a Jobs for America's Graduates (JAG) program next fall.

The goal of JAG is to help students who have academic potential, but who also face significant barriers like poverty, challenging family situations, and a history of personal trauma. Since it was founded in 1979, JAG has served more than 1.3 million students. Nationally, JAG currently serves more than 60,000 students across 34 states.

The program will teach at-risk teens social and organizational skills to help them achieve success after graduation. "We often say, 'these students should be learning this at home, they need to come to us prepared to do ABC,' but sometimes they're not," began Monett High School Principal David Williams. Williams said the JAG program allows them to be proactive. "We can say, 'okay, they're not learning this at home so we're going to do it here for them,' and that is what this program does."

Principal Williams will vacate his position at the end of the year to lead the JAG program. "They depend on us when they come through our doors to help make them successful," said Williams of his students. "Every single student who goes through our program has a greatly increased chance of being successful after they graduate from high school." Every year since the JAG program was founded, students have achieved a high school graduation rate of 90% or higher.

Students can qualify for JAG by having six or more "barriers to success." "A lot of us have different barriers that will impact whether or not we can become successful, some of these students have more than average," said Williams. He said those barriers can be flagged by teachers and counselors. Students can also apply for the program themselves. Only 45 students will be picked to take part in the program. It will be up to Williams to interview each student and decide who gets a spot. He said one of the unwritten requirements is that students have to buy in and genuinely believe in the mission of JAG.

The school will completely gut a building behind the school over the summer months to make room for the JAG program and a new alternative school. "It's going to be turned into two classroom sized spaces," said Williams of the building. He said one of the classrooms will be dedicated to the alternative academy, while the other is dedicated to the JAG program in the morning and a robotics class in the afternoon.

The funding for the program is split, $30,000 comes from the national JAG program and the other $30,000 comes out of the school's budget.

Williams said the only thing they need from the community is time. "We're going to want to teach our students that are in the program what opportunities are available in our community, what job opportunities are out there, and what skills they need upon graduation to be successful," he said. Williams said there may be an opportunity for local businesses to speak with students through presentations to the class or job shadowing.

Those with questions about JAG can email Principal David Williams at dwilliams@monettschools.org