JTG Superstar Specialists – Daniel Smith

JTG teachers are called “Specialists” – but really, what we call them are Superstars. This fall, we are featuring all of our superstars from across the state of Tennessee to tell us what JTG means to them and the impact they have on the students that walk into their classrooms each year. This week our Superstar Spotlight is on Daniel Smith of Tennessee Volunteer ChalleNGe Academy in Nashville, Tennessee. 

Daniel Smith, JTG Specialist with Tennessee Volunteer ChalleNGe Academy, is a seasoned professional with over two decades of experience in social services helping individuals and families in need set and achieve goals to obtain greater levels of independence. He is known for the ability to motivate others to give their best effort to pursue positive changes in their lives.

Mr. Smith has extensive experience developing strong relationships with students, job seekers and local employers from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds. He is passionate about helping students, returning citizens, and vulnerable populations to have an edge in competing for employment in the mainstream of opportunity. According to Mr. Smith, the thing that he loves the most about teaching the JTG curriculum is the opportunity to unite the wisdom gained from his experiences and connect it with the energy of our youth so they will be unstoppable in achieving their goals and in doing good works that will improve our communities and make for a better union. 

Mr. Smith states that one of his most memorable experiences as a JTG Specialist was taking four JTG students from Stratford STEM Magnet in Nashville, TN to the National Student Leadership Association conference in Washington, D.C. 

He states, “It was amazing to be a part of my students’ first airplane ride and visit to our nation’s capital. We enjoyed riding the subway to get from our 5-Star hotel to the National Mall where we took pictures next to the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Washington monuments, as well as the Lincoln Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery, the African American Museum of History and Culture, the United States Capitol ,and the White House. This was one of the outings that provided meaningful exposure in the mainstream of opportunity. This sort of exposure we believe will benefit our students in the future by helping them to choose more positive paths such as staying in school, finding employment, starting their own business or joining the military.”

In his spare time, Mr. Smith enjoys hiking on trails with his grandsons, playing chess, and going to Nashville Predator hockey games.

By |2018-10-29T21:34:12+00:00August 23rd, 2018|Specialist Stories, Uncategorized|Comments Off on JTG Superstar Specialists – Daniel Smith

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.