We’re Not in Linden Anymore

Remember your first time to Washington DC?
You never looked at the back of a penny the same way again (remember a penny?).

Lincoln Memorial November 11, 2016.

Never gone?  It’s a trip you will never forget.
Thankfully because of JTG, several Perry County High School seniors won’t either.  Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) hosts a National Student Leadership Academy in the Nation’s Capital each autumn.  JTG, one of 32 JAG state affiliates, takes a group every year to tour and compete against other JAG students.  JTG programs have to raise money (about $1,500 per person) and the Perry County High School community always makes fundraising for NSLA a priority.  Longtime JTG specialist Mikki Williams and current JTG specialist Melanie Gladden have impacted many lives by making sure Perry County students have this opportunity.  Among the beautiful things about this new blog is that it is a voice for  JTG students to write first-hand accounts about their experiences in the program, such as taking a trip to Washington DC, something that didn’t seem possible back in the summer.

I introduce guest blogger, Perry County High School senior Taylor Mullins (far left in the picture above), as he reflects on his November, 2016 journey:

This was my first trip ever to Washington D.C.  If given the opportunity to go back, I would take it.  I loved everything about this trip.  If had to pick my favorite thing, it would be when we visited the Smithsonian.  I also really enjoyed the twilight bus tour because we saw the monuments all lit up, which was really cool.  Visiting the Holocaust Museum was extremely interesting.  It was an excellent learning opportunity, as I love everything about history.  You can read all you want about the Holocaust but until you see it in person, it’s not the same.

Who could forget the leadership sessions?  It was really cool to get to meet other kids from around the United States.  Not only did I make a lot of new friends, but the people leading the sessions made them fun and enjoyable.  My favorite part about the sessions was when we played a game called train wreck.  Believe it or not, that game can get very intense but it was fun to play.

Taylor (second from left) with classmates in front of the U.S. Capitol.

To future JTG students, definitely take this opportunity.  Some of you may be like me, your first time, and trust me it is definitely a once and a lifetime experience.  Speaking of first times, this trip to Washington was also my first time to fly on an airplane.  At first it was a little intimidating, but once we got up into the air, I was able to just sit back and enjoy the flight.  It was also pretty cool to look out the window and see what the world looks like from high in the sky.  I would like to think Ms. Melanie Gladden and Ms. Mikki Williams for all of their hard work to make this trip possible.  I would also like to thank all of the business in Perry County that helped to sponsor our trip.

Finally, to my fellow classmates,  It was a pleasure to go on this trip with you, and I enjoyed all of the lessons I learned in class and the lessons that I learned on this trip.

Taylor Mullins
Perry County H.S. ’17

Pretty cool, huh?  These students will never, ever look at DC the same way on TV or in pictures again.  The experience to travel from Linden to Washington DC is life changing for many and JTG made it happen.  It’s not your typical high school class.  It’s a program that improves lives forever.

What are some of your memorable experiences in DC?  Do share.


By |2017-02-16T13:15:47+00:00February 16th, 2017|Life Lessons|13 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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Supporting and Empowering our Communities of Color

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.