Jobs for Tennessee Graduates (JTG) students come from all walks of life and some of those walks are longer than others. A survey filled out by nearly 500 JTG students in the fall (it was optional and one could assume if home life was dire, one might not fill it out) of 2016 revealed:
- 53% Male 47% Female. 72%, White 19%, Black 3%, Multi 1%, Asian 1%, American Indian 4%, Other.
- 73% believe they will graduate from high school (The actual number will be 96% or above).
- 25% live with just their mother. 9% live with a relative. 6% live with friends.
- 31% have a mother who earned a high school diploma or equivalent. 32% have a father who earned a high school diploma or equivalent.
- 8% of fathers are not employed.
- 50% are on free and reduced lunch.
- 27% are in the top fourth of their class. 53% are in the middle, 20% are in the bottom fourth.
Let that last statistic soak in a bit. It’s incorrect to assume that JTG students are the bottom few dozen GPA’s in a senior class. JTG students have been valedictorians, honor students, from affluent homes. Barriers to graduation range from single-parent households, to living off state and federal programs, absenteeism due to a sick parent and/or a parent serving in the military.
I share this with you so you can get your head around JTG programs at Anderson County Career and Technical Center (Clinton), Morgan County Career and Technical Center (Wartburg) and Wayne County Technology Center (Waynesboro). They are among the 19 JTG programs thriving in 15 counties. These places have great leadership and do amazing jobs. The rock star JTG specialists are Estle Muncy, Sarah Seavers and Gregg Lee, respectively. Their students feed in from other area high schools. These students have barriers to graduation but are guided toward post-secondary that align to their interests and lock into a career direction. Some are earning credits that transfer to community colleges. Some jump right from the graduation ceremony to full-time employment. What do you call those young people who have full-time jobs? TAXPAYERS.
I visited Morgan County Career and Technical Center yesterday and always come away with the way impressed with the way the place is run, how clean it is, the discipline enforced and the attitude of the students. Same goes for Anderson County County Career and Technical Center and Wayne County Technology Center. Good people, working their behinds off to make sure their students have every opportunity to succeed. They fight and scrape for resources from the state and do the best with what they receive.
So the next time you are seen by a nurse practitioner, take your pet to a vet, have your car in the shop or get your hair or nails done, there’s a chance you’ll be helped out by young people who were educated at a career/technical center. That’s because they had a chance to go to one of them, and receive an education, from good people, that led to a better start to their adulthood.