Jobs for America’s Graduates-Kansas

By Jessie Wagoner

Emporia High School students have a new opportunity to prepare for future employment thanks to a new program beginning this year.

Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) is being offered to a number of students this year. 

“We feel like we have a group of great leaders in this program,” Macias said. “The skills they learn through the program can be shared with their peers and can be beneficial to the entire student body.”

Kimberly Underwood instructs the freshman and sophomore JAG classes while Ali Macias instructs the junior and senior JAG classes. Macias and Underwood hope to help students build labor force attachment, avoid unemployment, gain full-time employment or enroll in a postsecondary institution. Each instructor will work with 35-45 students, offering both group and individual instruction.

“Our main goal of this program is to have students placed in full-time employment once they graduate from high school,” Macias said. “Or attending post-secondary education or enlisting in the military.”

JAG students will have access to a variety of activities to help them achieve their educational and employment goals. Activities include identifying their occupational interests, developing a career path, creating resumes and cover letters, job shadowing, preparing for and completing ACT testing and getting help completing FAFSA’s and college applications.

“We actually use class time to take students into the community,” Macias said. “We will take them to job shadowing or take students to a mock job interview. We will help them build relationships and job skills.”

Community service work is an important element of the JAG program. Students will take part in a variety of community service events. Through community service, students will gain an appreciation and understanding of the needs of the community as well as network and build connections that could help them obtain employment or advance their education in the future.

“Each JAG student is required to participate in a minimum of 10 hours of community service per year,” Underwood said. “So we are going to get out in the community and anyone who would be interested in having us complete a community service project for them could contact us. We want them to develop those values that you gain through community service.”

Underwood and Macias encourage parents to be involved in JAG activities and events. Thanks to small class sizes of only eight students per block, the instructors intend to maintain regular and open communication with parents to ensure students succeed. Parents are invited to attend community service projects, field trips, campus tours and a variety of other events with their child.

“To launch our program we just did a pizza party,” Macias said. “We invited all the families, and they had a chance to come and listen to our presentation, eat pizza and get to know each other. We will also be having an installation ceremony for all the students that their families can attend.”

Macias said community involvement will increase the success of the program. Community members are welcome to speak to classes about their employment or educational path, or offer community service opportunities. Contact Macias at alexandria.macias@usd253.netor Underwood at