Greenup County HS welcomes JAG program, focuses on real-life skills

Published: Jul. 7, 2021 at 6:33 PM EDT
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GREENUP COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) - In the fall of 2021, Greenup County High School is offering a new program to help students jump into the workforce after graduation.

The program, Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG), is built for students who encounter barriers to graduation.

“We are in the business of teaching, and we do a great job with English and math and science and social studies and those things, and this additional program to our school is something that has been needed for a long time and it’s going to give us the opportunity to get outside of normal instruction,” said Greenup County High School Principal Jason Smith.

Greenup County Superintendent Traysea Moresea says she first reached out to the program a few years ago but did not hear back. During the summer, they reached out to her to start the program in the high school.

“We want our kids to not only come out and be employable but we want them to be successful employees that are able to move up the ladder, be productive and eventually give back to society,” said Moresea.

The JAG program is providing the curriculum and $40,000 to hire a certified teacher. The district will cover additional money for benefits.

The program focuses on teaching career development, job attainment and retention, leadership, financial literacy, and other soft skills such as showing up on time, shaking hands, making eye contact, putting down your cellphone, having conversations and how to answer things politely and correctly.

“One of the most important parts of being a good employee and being successful may not always be your IQ. It’s more your emotional intelligence and how you’re able to perceive how you’re able to interact,” Moresea said.

Each day, the teacher of the program, Trey Parsons will teach three class periods, going over soft skills, but another key element happens outside the classroom.

The school will partner with the community and be assigned a mentor from a local business. The business partners will present real-world problems for the students to solve.

“We’ll do mock interviews. The ultimate goal is to partner students with local businesses so they can go out and get some on-the-job training and develop those skills,” Smith said.

The training could lead to jobs after graduation, which Smith says could be beneficial to the businesses due to the worker shortage across the country.

“Because of that shortage we’re gonna be able to get some kids to some employers that need additional assistance themselves,” Smith said.

Moreasea says the district is changing its approach to instruction, not just focusing on test scores, but preparing students for after graduation. Many of the students already graduate with certificates for trades.

“Now they will have the certification and the instruction going hand-in-hand with how to be a good employee,” Moresea said.

She says these skills are especially important to learn after the pandemic kept everything virtual.

“We spent a lot of time doing electronic work, talking through computer screens, texting, emailing, discussion boards, recording ourselves on video, and not getting any real interaction,” Moresea said.

Parsons will also be available to help tutor the students in any subjects they are falling behind in.

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