Local News: Program will help unlock children’s potential (5/20/22)

LCS program director Rachel Leavitt and high school vice-principal Kyle Formanek presented the program at a recent board meeting.

LE MARS — A new program to help at-risk students and unlock their potential will be offered at Le Mars Community High School during the 2022-23 school year.

The high school’s vice principal, Kyle Formanek, and program director, Rachel Leavitt, presented the program to the school board at a recent meeting.

The program, Iowa Jobs for America’s Graduates, or iJAG, is offered in partnership with schools and is offered during the school day, for optional credit. iJAG helps kids learn the skills they need to succeed in the classroom, at work and in life, Formanek explained.

“It’s a gift of self-sufficiency and it pays back to that individual child growing up and becoming a better member of the community in the long run,” he said.

Identify students in need

Formanek said earlier in the school year he had compiled a list of 290 of the 650 high school kids who would be identified as “at risk.”

“It’s a gift of self-sufficiency and it pays back to that individual child growing up and becoming a better member of the community in the long run,” he said. “That’s a pretty significant number of our kids that we would consider at risk in high school.”

Currently, 33 students attend the LCS Alternative School. That’s down from the peak of 43 students at the top level a few years ago.

“But looking at the population, we will get back to that number very soon if we don’t try to do something a little different. And that’s what this iJAG program will be for,” he said.

Formanek pointed out that 11 students had dropped out of alternative high school and five from high school.

“I know this is going to be higher than the last two years when we were at a 97% graduation rate,” he said.

He continued, “iJAG is another stepping stone for the student population and gives them more help throughout their lives, even after high school.”

Formanek and Leavitt request the program for students in grades 9 through 12.

The program has proven itself

Currently, 43 communities across the state use the iJAG program, with 4,000 participants. It has a 98% graduation rate, a 65% employment rate, and a 77% positive outcome, such as full-time employment, military enlistment, and/or post-secondary education enrollment.

Formanek explained that the program is for students who face multiple obstacles in their lives. Students will work with iJAG specialists to ensure graduation or at least improve their academic success rate and later in their career.

“The really big thing iJAG students would do is partner with local businesses and community leaders to experience and gain first-hand knowledge about Iowa’s major industries,” he said. declared. “When I think about it, I think it’s a great way to keep the kids at Mars, especially as they work in grades 9-12, they’ll build relationships.

Program Highlights Key Areas

The iJAG Core Course has seven core concepts: career readiness; character and development; community and technology; critical thinking and productivity; life skills; self-defense and conflict resolution; and work-based learning.

According to Formanek, the person who will fill the role of iJAG specialist will be a real employee of the school.

“They are technically employed by iJAG, but we would help throughout this process,” Formanek explained.

The program has a target of 50 students, of which 40 will be identified for the first year.

Students targeted by the program include young people facing multiple challenges before graduation or not enjoying their senior year of high school, most likely to be unemployed after graduation or undecided on a career path with no plans for post-secondary studies.

Liability of LCS

The district’s responsibility to the program is to provide classroom facilities, professional development and regular classes, and provide academic credit toward graduation for students who successfully complete the iJAG program. .

“We think this additional opportunity for our students really pays off for the great impact we would get for this additional program,” she said. “We are responsible for one-third of the cost of the teacher, and iJAG for two-thirds.”

Leavitt said two sources of funding are available to the district to deliver the program: Title IV funds and dropout prevention funds.

Title IV funds would provide $12,000 while dropout prevention funds would add $13,000.

Superintendent Dr Steve Webner said, “I’ve seen this program in action and it works. There is one in Storm Lake and it has worked very well with their students.

“If you think of students, we have a lot of kids who don’t get guidance at home on their future careers and so on. It takes that role and it gives them the tools they need to search for jobs and interview, and once they get that job, how to keep it,” Webner said.

He also noted that the district does not hold the teacher’s contract and therefore does not pay benefits.

“It’s a very positive program and I’m glad the high school decided they’d like to try it,” Webner said.

The program has been around for over 20 years and is based in Des Moines. The contract is for one year and will be renewed annually.

The board unanimously approved the iJAG program for the 2022-23 school year.

Leave a Reply