Taylor County School District has recently implemented a new program called JAG Kentucky. The program, an affiliate of Jobs for America's Graduates (JAG), is a national non-profit organization dedicated to helping students overcome barriers to graduation and transitioning into postsecondary education, the workforce or the military following graduation.
JAG Kentucky provides high schools a JAG Specialist to directly help students who face significant academic barriers. The curriculum in the class focuses on career development, job attainment and retention, leadership, financial literacy and numerous other life skills to enhance a students’ employability and success upon graduation.
The program also focuses on building partnerships with local businesses to help ensure opportunities for students.
State Representative and Kentucky House Majority Leader John “Bam” Carney worked with JAG Kentucky and the leadership of Taylor County Schools to help bring the program to the community.
“I was so impressed with this organization’s approach to helping its students be successful, not only in school but following graduation. I believe JAG Kentucky will change the lives of the students it serves and will be an asset to our community.” Carney said.
To mark the start of the program at Taylor County High School, Carney visited the JAG classroom and talked with students now enrolled in the program. Joining him was George Stafford, Director of Employer Engagement of JAG Kentucky, Travis Burton of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, Michael Rodenberg CEO of Murakami Manufacturing, Superintendent Charles Higdon Jr., Taylor County Schools Board Chair David Hall, Assistant Superintendent Laura Benningfield, Ron McMahon who heads Economic Development, Campbellsville Mayor Brenda Allen, and Taylor County Judge-Executive Barry Smith.
“JAG is clearly making a difference for these Taylor County students. I’m thankful to see this program here and look forward to seeing their successes.” Carney said.
Ben Ellard and Matt Norris, JAG Specialists at TCHS, spoke with the visitors about developing skills with students including resume building and mock interviews. Students in the classroom talked about learning fundamentals in the workplace such as work ethic, good communication and responsibility. There are currently two JAG programs at Taylor County High School with the hope of adding more students next school year.
JAG KY serves over 2,000 students through 54 programs in 24 counties. Research conducted by Drexel University’s Center for Labor Markets and Policy reported in 2017, JAG graduates were 230% more likely to be employed full-time, compared to the average 18-20 year old.