Jordan had Pippen. Simon had Garfunkel. Michael Jackson had his brothers (Okay, maybe not the best example). Every successful person has someone beside them. Dwyer has Jones. To be clear, I’m not suggesting for one moment that I’m Jordan. Hardly. But I do have a guy that will forget more about Jobs for Tennessee Graduates (JTG) than I’ll ever know. JTG Vice
President/Direction of Operations Jerry Jones. Jones was a longtime JTG specalist at Fairview High School, then a program manager when JTG was run by the state. In its transition to a non-profit the last three years, Jones has stayed on board. Frankly, there wouldn’t be a JTG without Jerry. You know how your business has a “numbers guy” and can navigate through piles of reports and applications?
Jerry is that guy. He knows where all the bones are buried, so to speak. The moment I met him in late 2013 it was clear I needed him if we were going to have a shot of continuing in schools that recognized the impact of JTG on their students and were willing to hang with it. To all those JTG students served since then who are now in college, on a career path and/or serving our country, you have Jerry (among others) to thank.
Among his responsibilities, executing Out-Of-School grants awarded to JTG by Workforce Essentials. Workforce Essentials is a successful regional non-profit that essential helps connect people to careers. An Out-Of-School (OOS) program is one that focuses on young people who didn’t complete high school. Jerry helps coach them to pass the HiSET exam (Tennessee’s version of a GED) and become employable. In a perfect world, all at-risk students would be part of the JTG In-School program (12th grade with a 12-month follow up) but we all know the world isn’t perfect.
When I worked at News-2 in sports, I always tried to surround myself with people better than me because it made the overall product better. I’m proud of those who went on to bigger and better things. Mike Hill at FOX Sports. John Boruk at CSNPhilly and Sara Walsh at ESPN are just three examples in broadcasting. Other co-workers shine in other lines of work. I’m lucky and proud to have shared an office with all of them along the way.
We all get busy and that “to do” list that you jotted down last night or after this morning’s workout isn’t always completed by the time the sun sets. It happens. But it’s good to take a moment and reflect on the people that make your job worth the grind. Jerry has a full life with a wonderful wife Janet of 32-years, two sons and two grandsons. He still tackles the JTG challenges like the day I met him.