Job programs create successful futures for Hancock County students

I have been writing this column “Coffee House Ramblings” for a few years. We in Hancock County are truly blessed to be living in such a great county. I would like to share another “jewel” that we have in this county.

The other morning I was having breakfast with Maj. Brad Burkhart and Hancock Regional Hospital CEO Steve Long. Maj. Burkhart and I are co-directors of the Hancock County Character Council.

Long is on our board of directors. I asked him how he would compare Greenfield and Hancock County to some of the other places he lived.

His answer echoed many in our community. He said in Hancock County we have the best of both worlds. We of course are a “doughnut” county to Indianapolis. We are centrally located. We have tremendous healthcare facilities. We have a low crime rate.

But, best of all, it appears as though almost everyone takes pride in our community.

The conversation gravitated toward the January topic of the Character Council. The topic for this month is “Discipline — Choosing Behavior to Help Me Reach My Goals.”

Our featured speaker was to explain another “jewel” in Hancock County, a program called JAG.

In Greenfield, JAG of Indiana is represented by Allie Medellin. Medellin is the JAG specialist at Greenfield-Central High School. JAG is a national program that helps prepare high school students for jobs. The JAG Indiana program logo states, “Jobs for Indiana Graduates.”

Medellin goes on to say, “The Jobs for American Graduates (JAG) is a program focused on successful high school graduation.”

As a longtime educator, I have seen many of these programs come and go. What is an intriguing aspect about this program is the creative way the program works. The program is a three-year program, with high school graduation being the culmination of the program.

The program teaches soft skills, such as communication and teamwork. The program also teaches students how to write a resumé and conduct themselves in a job interview.

Probably the best “jewel” is that our local JAG builds community relationships. This opportunity provides JAG students with support from our community. JAG’s mission is to keep young people in school through graduation and provide work-based learning experiences. The goal is to lead toward either career training or to enrolling in a postsecondary institution.

There is a one-year follow-up after graduation. The program is funded through grants provided by the Indiana Department of Workforce Development.

According to the department’s website jag.htm, JAG just celebrated its 10-year anniversary in Indiana. JAG was launched in 2006 by then-Gov. Mitch Daniels. Our present governor, Eric Holcomb, currently serves as the national chairman for Jobs Across America.

How successful is this program? According to JAG’s website, it boasts a 95 percent graduation rate. It also sees 89 percent of participants moving on to a positive outcome — a job, the military or educational training.

So what does that mean for us here in Hancock County? It simply goes back to the discussion Long, Burkhart and I had: Greenfield and Hancock County are great places to live.

More than 18,000+ students have participated in this program since 2006. Greenfield-Central High School’s program is one of only 123 in the state of Indiana.

Much more could be said about this jewel here in Hancock County.

As a former educator, I believe it is a program that allows students to become successful in today’s job market. It also incorporates adult mentoring while in high school.

I earlier stated that in my career as an educator I have seen many programs promising to help educate our secondary students. I truly believe JAG incorporates all of the right elements to make this program successful.

I also spent time in the private sector. It was my job in management to interview and hire prospective employees. I would have taken advantage of this jewel as a way of vetting applicants.

I can also see the advantage of this program in the political arena. Once again, I believe this jewel would have benefited me during my 12 years as Sugar Creek Township Trustee.

If you are an employer, teacher, counselor or parent, and if you would like to see this program advance and prosper, I would suggest that you either visit the website I mentioned or contact Medellin. She can be reached at Greenfield-Central High School.

C.O. Montgomery of New Palestine is a former teacher, Sugar Creek Township trustee and co-director of the Hancock County Character Council. Send comments to dr-editorial@greenfield