(AUDIO) Missouri First Family’s Support Runs Deep for High School Graduation Program

First Lady Teresa Parson said Jobs for America’s Graduates-Missouri is a win-win solution. The nonprofit organization’s mission is to help at-risk students unlock their full potential by graduating from high school and becoming successful in life.

Governor Mike Parson, First Lady Teresa Parson and JAG students

“This is a victory for the children and it is a victory for our state. It’s a program we are so dedicated to and believe in, ”she told Missourinet. “It’s an extremely important program, I think, especially for these young people. In all honesty, it doesn’t take me to promote it because this program sells itself. “

When general manager Paul Kincaid shared the mission with the Parsons, they were sold.

“That was before he (Governor Parson) was lieutenant governor, actually. We got it through, ”said the first lady. “It just worked for the governor’s goals.”

Two of Governor Parson’s top priorities have been workforce development and infrastructure. The Parsons are co-chairs of the board of directors of the Missouri organization.

Jobs for America’s Graduates, also known as JAG, is an academic program focused on career exploration, resume building, employability skills, team building and public speaking. . It has a 98% graduation rate among its Missouri students.

“Remember, these are the at-risk students – who are at risk of not graduating when they enter the program. It’s a very, very good percentage to have, ”says Ms. Parson. “It’s like they’re part of an organization of their own because everyone in that class has a problem or a problem that they can relate to. It brings them together. These young people get that extra help, they get that extra push and the opportunity to make and improve their lives. A lot of them, that’s all they want. They are looking for this escape. This program, I think, certainly does it for them.

What’s the most important thing she learned from JAG-Missouri?

“These kids seem to have challenges that they have to overcome because of something in their youth. The most important thing I think I learned first, I learned that these problems have names and they have faces. It is these children. They are impressive young people who want to escape and who want to show what they can do with their lives, ”she says.

Nationally, around 50% of JAG students enter the military or the workforce directly. Another 40% end up attending a two-year community college or vocational school. About 5% attend a four-year university.

The first lady says the JAG is even more important during and after the pandemic.

“It’s probably more difficult for these JAG students than a normal youngster because of the trauma, because of the things in their lives that they have had to deal with that are now going through a pandemic. These specialists – their goal during this time has been to make sure that the JAG students they have in their classes are safe, which is sometimes another issue with the students that they don’t feel safe at. the House. JAG specialists also had to ensure that there was food in the homes for these children. They are incredible, incredible people. They are often the surrogate parents of these children. They are mentors to them. They are coaches, ”she said.

After students graduate from high school, JAG specialists, who are teachers, register monthly for one year. His question to teachers is whether students reach out or pick up the phone when they see educators calling.

“They do, which immediately tells you that they need someone who could really mentor them or take care of them,” says Ms. Parson.

This fall, more than 100 JAG programs will be offered in approximately 70 Missouri schools.

“My hope is just to continue to develop the program as much as possible, because I don’t know of any part of our state that could not benefit from it,” she said.

The first lady says she and the governor are hopeful JAG will eventually make it to all high schools in the state.

The nonprofit organization provides half of the estimated annual cost of the school program, and the school district takes the rest of the tab.

To listen to the full interview with First Lady Teresa Parson, click below.

This is a four part story series about jobs for American graduates from Missouri. Tomorrow’s Story will feature JAG scholar Holly Harmon and JAG student Nathaniel Schmitt of Aurora Public Schools.

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