A Southwest Missouri school district looks at non-traditional education programs to give students their best chance at success. Beginning next year, students in the Monett School District will be able to take part in the “Jobs for America’s Graduates,” or JAG program.
Simply put, its a program aimed at students who face barriers, like poverty or personal trauma. But Monett High School Principal David Williams says at the end of the day, it’s about giving these students their best chance at success. And he believes in it so much, he’s leaving his post at the high school to oversee it.
“The closer we got to implementation of that, the more I thought, ‘wow, you know, somebody really lucky is going to get to run this,” says David Williams.
That somebody will be Williams. He says what sold him on JAG is the impact it can have on the students.
“JAG program is designed for students who have some difficulties in life and setting them up for success after high school graduation,” says Williams.
Williams says JAG works by helping up to 45 students with what the program calls “core competencies.”
“Basically it teaches them what they will need to be successful after high school. It teaches you how to communicate, how to show up to work on time, teaches you how to be a good employee once you’re there and know what an employer here in the southwest Missouri area is looking for,” says Williams.
JAG will be housed within the alternative academy. Williams says a facility called “the old ag building” will be renovated into that, and will also provide space for other programs, like robotics. And he says it’s just further evidence of the positive changes education is undergoing.
“We’re really shifting a lot of what we’re doing from simple fact regurgitation to a student being able to think critically and have those skills to show up to work on time, work hard, have that grit, and if you’ve got that you’re going to be successful in life,” says David Williams.
Williams says he’ll miss being in the high school every day after six years of being either the principal or assistant principal, but is excited to take on the new challenges that await him.