I had one of the most delightful conversations in several years yesterday. I met Emily Martin. She is an education specialist at Central High in Davenport, working with students in the iJAG program (Iowa Jobs for America’s Graduates).
iJAG is a non-profit organization that, according to their website, is designed to help students who “… have trouble making it in a conventional classroom because of the distractions and barriers at home, outside the classroom or even inside the classroom. Relying on real-world, project-based instructional methods and an unconventional approach to personal connections with students, the iJAG teaching specialists work within conventional learning environments to help remove barriers and show students how to achieve the next step of their career or education.”
As Emily told the story of her students and their experiences in this class, her passion for her students came shining through. While these students have life barriers that make school difficult in general and graduation seem like something often unattainable. Yet, Emily is convinced that if she, as well as, members of the education/business community can convey their desires for her students to compete and succeed in the rigors of adult life, they will be able to do just that!
Her “introductory class” consists of developing life skills, teamwork, and leadership skills, as well as career planning, time management and job interviewing skills. The “advanced class” adds to these basics by introducing her students to apprenticeship programs in the “trades” as well as to 2 and 4 year college courses, ACT planing and preparation and independent living skills to allow her students to advance to the highest level of their personal desires.
Emily’s end goal is to provide opportunity for students who, for so long, have just be considered the “bad kids” and those so easily lost in the cracks of society. She has a passion that is electric and she (as well as the other 25 teaching specialists across Iowa) need the support of educators, the business community, and the community at large.
If you would like to know more about this program, you can visit the iJag website and if you want to know how you can get involved here in the Quad Cities, just email me and I will introduce you to Emily. I warn you though, if you meet her, your life may never be the same!