2020 has been unlike any other year. As it has everyone involved in education, the pandemic has challenged JAG-K Career Specialists to adapt, and to be more resourceful than ever before. 

Karla Pledger, Career Specialist at F.L. Schlagle High School in Kansas City, has not met with her JAG-K students in the traditional classroom setting since last March. She has recently been informed that her school will not resume in-person instruction before April. Pledger has been forced to come up with creative and effective means of leading her students virtually for nearly a full year. 

“I had to really come up with plans to get the students involved,” Pledger said. “One of the things that I put in place was to have motivational speakers every Monday and then have them write about what they learned from that. What did you get out of that? How did you feel?” 

Pledger also planned a virtual ‘world tour’ for her students.  

“It might include virtual college tours, visits to significant sites around the world, or introductions to different cultures,” Pledger said. “We’re trying to keep them motivated and expand their world view during this time.” 

Pledger admits that the social component that is so critical to JAG-K students has looked very different this year. In their virtual meetings, she uses everything from ice-breakers to challenges and competitions to get the students interacting. She also visits each student in person at least once a month. 

“I’m trying to keep them connected and let them know that, even though we’re not together in person every day, I’m here for them,” Pledger said. 

While remote instruction has been difficult, schools that meet in person have faced their own challenges. 

“Everything about JAG-K is different this year,” said Jennifer Hopkins, Career Specialist at Great Bend High School. “Social distancing has made doing so many of our normal activities impossible.”

She said that everything from bringing in guest speakers to sending students to visit work places has been affected.  

Hopkins said the pandemic has forced not just the teachers to think outside the box, but the students as well. 

Hopkins appreciates that her classes are able to meet in person. She said she uses virtual instruction tools when students are quarantined. She said the technology has helped her maintain connections with students throughout the phases of the pandemic.