Topeka High School student Ryleigh Atkinson-McLaury got noticed when she spoke before a state legislative committee in the spring. Communicating with confidence and poise, she described how JAG-K helped her and fielded a variety of questions from the lawmakers.
Next thing she knew, she was sought out by the superintendent of Topeka Public Schools to apply for a communications internship with the district. Not coincidentally, the superintendent, Dr. Tiffany Anderson, serves on the JAG-K Board of Directors.
Now a graduate of Topeka High, Atkinson-McLaury is gaining valuable experience in a professional environment. In the fall, she plans to study Communications at the University of Oklahoma.
Helping JAG-K students overcome barriers to success requires year-round commitment. Atkinson-McLaury’s internship is the perfect example of the type of experience JAG-K hopes to provide all its students during the summer.
Career Specialists maintain their close connections to students during the summer to help them continue their development. Whether it’s seasonal employment, educational enrichment, credit recovery or emotional support, Specialists make the most of the summer months.
Summer presents life-changing opportunities to JAG-K students. Whether it’s through camps, job shadowing, work opportunities, etc., Career Specialists help students line up applications, interviews, enrollment or whatever else they need to obtain those experiences.
Coming off such a strange school semester, JAG-K staff made sure students finished the school year with all their credits. They helped Class of 2021 graduates transition successfully. And they coached students who were employed to ensure they had successful work experiences.
Throughout the summer, Specialists find creative ways to help students stay connected and focused on their success. Whether it’s getting students together for a service project, sharing ice cream at a park, or meeting at a swimming pool, they make sure students feel supported.
The success of such year-round effort can be seen in the Class of 2020, for which Specialists just finished a year of transitional support. Despite the pandemic, the Class of 2020 posted a 97.05 graduation rate. One year out of high school, those students have a 71.81 percent employment rate (90.02 of which are employed full time).
The support for the Class of 2021, and the success of the Class of 2020 are signs that JAG-K is making the most of summer. Career Specialists provide that human point of contact to help students stay healthy and ready for success.
JAG-K is a multi-year, in-school program for students in grades seven through 12 that offers tools to successfully transition students into post-secondary school, the military, or directly into the workforce with marketable skills. Participants in the program face multiple barriers to success that their JAG-K Career Specialist helps them overcome through a nationally-accredited, evidence-based model.
The 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization is a state affiliate of the national JAG program network which operates in 40 different states and territories. It is primarily funded through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families block grant to the State of Kansas administered by the Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF). In addition to school districts and DCF, JAG-K partners with the Kansas Department of Education. Other JAG-K funding sources include AT&T, John Deere, Synchrony Financial, Taco Bell and Walmart.
To learn more about JAG-K, visit www.jagkansas.org, ‘Jobs for America’s Graduates-Kansas’ on Facebook, and on Twitter at @JAG_Kansas.