May Magazines 2018 89128 - Page 64

Making a Difference From left to right: Jonathan Sosa, Daethron Anthony Gales, and Eddy Mijarez. KIDS OF PROMISE: JAG Nevada Sending Students on a Pathway to Success For Jonathan Sosa, bullying led to severe low self-esteem and self-confidence. For Daethron Anthony Gales, occasional homelessness and the financial struggles of a single mother with six children forced him to grow up fast to help his family. And for Eddy Mijarez, academic struggles led to hanging out with the wrong crowd and a sense of apathy about his future. High school can be a challenging time for any teenager, but for some, extra support and guidance can mean the difference between a high school dropout and a high school graduate. Enter JAG Nevada, a statewide high school dropout interven- tion and work readiness program that serves more than 3,000 students in 53 programs in 41 high schools across the state. The typical student that JAG recruits is most likely to leave high school before graduation due to issues such as disengagement 64 May/June 2018 from school, excessive absenteeism, credit deficiency, and/or falling behind in classes. “JAG students are kids of promise, not at-risk youth,” said Rene Cantu, executive director of JAG Nevada. “We help our stu- dents identify their strengths and talents and use that to achieve their present and future goals. It’s an asset-based approach versus a deficit-based approach. Our program’s 92 percent graduation rate proves that what we are doing is moving the needle in a state that has struggled to improve its graduation rate.” Sosa, who graduated from Western High School last year, found that bullying from his classmates affected his attitude about his life and future. He had zero interest in his studies and could care less if he ever reached graduation.