Recently, the students within the Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) program at Mt. Vernon High School received the Multiplying Good One in a Million Award. Multiplying Good is an esteemed award foundation based in New York that is focused on recognizing and rewarding acts of service that benefit the community. JAG’s most recent project based learning activity, “Self Care for Both You and Me”, included working with the “Rise Above it” program, the MVHS “Bring Change 2 Mind” club, the Goodwill “Collect and Connect” program, and Gleaners Food Pantry.
The “Self Care for Both You and Me” project started with the simple question of, “How can we spread awareness about self-care issues in our school and community?” From there, the JAG students educated themselves about mental health from several guest speakers and decided to design mental-health themed merchandise to sell to Mt. Vernon students and staff. The money that they raised went towards supplies for the gift packs that JAG distributes at the high school and middle school.
Additionally, the JAG students also were encouraged to complete their own projects to raise awareness for their cause. Students hung up bright posters with encouraging quotes on the walls of the high school and made a poster with thank you notes for the entirety of the high school staff, along with many other acts of kindness to raise awareness about the importance of self-care.
The juniors and seniors at Mt. Vernon High School who participate in this program have the opportunity to network and make connections that will benefit them in the future, whether that be for college or a potential career. James Cochran is the JAG Specialist at Mt. Vernon--with his help, countless students have been mentored in the right direction for a successful career and adult life.
Some examples of learning and service opportunities within JAG include working with the Suicide Prevention Awareness Program, volunteering at the Gleaners Food Bank, and collecting businesswear to donate to Goodwill for the less fortunate. Projects like these teach students about communication and critical thinking, as well as responsible work habits.
Impressively, the JAG program continued to thrive even after school went virtual in the spring of 2020. James Cochran explains how the shift from the classroom to online went: “Basically, I was already doing most of the assignments in Google Classroom, so when the students were coming in each day, I would have the assignment on the board. When we went virtual, we were kind of already set up for that, so the transition was pretty easy. I have three classes that make up one JAG program, so the classes would use Google Classroom to communicate.”
Cochran went on to explain the student government within the JAG program, and how it operates more as a student-run program with him as the moderator, “the students have a lot of freedom between the boundaries that I’ve set up.” The hard work that the students put in evidently did not go unnoticed.
Multiplying Good quickly recognized the Mt. Vernon students in action for putting others first and for their quick problem solving to shift their service projects during this unusual time. The students completed their end of the year reflection in the last few months of school and earned a silver banner at the regional Public Service Pitch Day competition. The program manager at Multiplying Good, Rachel Williams, nominated the group for the One in a Million Award at the pitch day. Students who are interested in joining the JAG program this school year can contact Mr. Cochran at email@example.com. There are five available spots left for students this year, with a cap at forty-five students.