Jumping the Gun

“That’s it.  I’m calling it.  Game over.”

With that, my friend put his empty chili bowl in the sink, grabbed his coat and his wife and headed to his home in East Nashville.  Super Bowl LI still has 8:31 to go in the third quarter but after the Falcons staked a 28-3 lead, people all around the country put a fork in the Patriots.  The rest of our small gathering also left and soon our house was empty with more than a quarter to go in the game.

I won’t pretend that I predicted the outrageous comeback but while my wife headed to bed, I stayed up on the living room couch because I sensed an underlying murmur that the Falcons were running out of gas.  “At least Brady may make a game of it,” I muttered to my dog Lola, who sighed and proceeded to take her 19th nap of the day.

“Luck is the residue of design” is one of my favorite sayings.  The Patriots were probably the only ones who truly believed they had a chance of winning and kept plugging away and sure enough, all the “lucky” things that had to happen to win, happened.  Facing adversity, the team continued to grind away.  They made they own luck, so to speak.  The only way that happens is by never quitting.

I bring this up because I think there are parallels to the Jobs for Tennessee Graduates program.  The students JTG serves face a plethora of barriers to graduation.  Some are severe.  Some are self-inflicted such as making poor decisions.  Most are just the circumstances they find themselves.  Poverty.  A sick parent leading to absences.  A learning disability.   JTG students have all sorts of “life” coming at them and face adversity.  Getting to school on time, with a full stomach, without boyfriend/girlfriend drama or drama at home, ready to pay attention and learn in each class is what is expected but that’s a big ask.  Think about it.  How often you do you have a day that goes according to plan?  And chances are, you don’t face near the daily challenges of JTG students.  Our JTG specialists (teachers) are truly tuned into what is going on in a student’s life and won’t allow these students to just “call it a game.”  Not an option.  There are times where JTG’s student situation looks a lot like the Patriots’ chances of winning the Super Bowl down 28-3.  While millions aren’t watching as confetti drops from the ceiling, a JTG student walking across the stage this May will be no less impressive a victory.

Seconds after the end of the game, just for fun, I texted my buddy back who left our house early.

“Actually, I’m calling it.  Game over,” it stated.

Moral of the story:  Don’t ever give up if there’s time on the clock, in a game, or life.

By |2017-02-08T17:50:52+00:00February 7th, 2017|Life Lessons|0 Comments

About the Author:

Call it John Dwyer 2.0 After 29 years as a TV Broadcaster, Dwyer is President & CEO of Jobs for Tennessee Graduates (JTG). JTG, an affiliate of Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG), is a non-profit organization dedicated to stewarding at-risk high school students toward graduation with follow through toward post-secondary education and/or job opportunities. Associated with JAG since 1981, JTG consistently obtains a graduation rate above 90-percent with a full-time job rate at nearly 70-percent. The most vulnerable, socioeconomically challenged young men and women, graduate with self-esteem with the realization and skill set to achieve success after high school. Does it get much better than that? Dwyer, is a resident of the Nashville area since 1996. He was sports director and/or a news anchor at TV stations in Nashville, Jacksonville, Florida; Ft. Myers, FL and his hometown of South Bend, Indiana. He is a 10-time Mid-South Region Emmy Award winner, along with winning numerous other awards. He is also a former Heisman Trophy voter. John is a 1985 graduate of Butler University, where he majored in Radio/TV while minoring in journalism. An avid running (or “plodder” as he likes to call himself), Dwyer runs in Nashville’s annual marathon. (Current tally: 7 Full, 10 Half). He accomplished a goal, once thought out of reach, be qualifying and running in the Boston Marathon in 2009. Married to Lynley, Dwyer resides in East Nashville with his wife and dog Lola. Dwyer served on the Make-A-Wish Middle Tennessee board from 2006-2012, and was board chairman for three years.

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COVID-19 Update

JAG and JTG Statement in Response to COVID-19

 As we are all feeling, COVID-19 has shifted how the world operates in a way that is unprecedented for our generation, and Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) and Jobs for Tennessee Graduates (JTG), one of 39 JAG state affiliates, are no exception. The impact of the coronavirus and the immediate danger it presents has closed our education system, directly affecting students and their families. This is especially detrimental to JTG students, who often look to their JTG Specialists and classmates for steadiness and security in their lives.

We also recognize that our students and their families are disproportionately affected by the closure of restaurants, stores, bars, and other service-industry places of work. These jobs often provide the entry-level opportunities our students need to enter the workforce. A difficult environment is likely to continue for some time, so we are in the process to reposition our training and support to make the best case for our JTG students to be considered for employment.

At a time when we must social distance ourselves to protect each other, the thousands of JTG students we serve need us more than ever.  We are responding to and encouraged by the requests from many JTG Specialists to access online learning modules and platforms provided by JAG educational partners like the Skills to Succeed Academy, EverFi, and Tallo. We are excited to see the interest in the JAG Genius and the use of virtual connectivity and the online sense of community – something we all need in these times.

Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) and Jobs for Tennessee Graduates (JTG) recognize we need to modify the way we provide support and deliver competencies to our students during this time of uncertainty. In response to the way business and education are adapting (in real time) to COVID-19,  JAG National is establishing new protocols and processes to ensure full, virtual engagement with our young people to ensure they have the competencies they need to meet the very competitive job market ahead. That is why JAG is providing the immediate recommendations below that are of highest priority, which impact the day-to-day lives of our students and Specialists. Like our world right now, please know that these are in real-time and subject to change.


Moving forward, we will have ongoing recommendations that will be built into new practices that will serve as both short- and long-term solutions to continue JAG’s data-driven model. This will help us remain accountable to our students, our partners, funders, and each other.