Jobs for Maine Graduates program coming to high school

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WESTBROOK — A program aimed at making sure students across Maine are reaching their highest potential is coming to Westbrook High School this school year.

Westbrook is the recipient of a grant to bring a Jobs for Maine Graduates program to the high school, Superintendent Peter Lancia said at a school board meeting last week.

“(The JMG program) really sought us out because they knew the needs of our community and knew the needs of our school,” Lancia said.

JMG, a public/private partnership, offers programming that includes career preparation, college transition skills and financial literacy to help students succeed in today’s workplaces. The program serves more than 7,000 students in Maine schools, including Gorham High School, where the program has operated for the last two years.

Gorham School Superintendent Heather Perry, a member of the JMG Board of Directors, said the program “really gives its schools a great bang for their buck in terms of results for students.”

“The overall goal of the program is in connecting students to their aspirations and helping to ensure students graduate career- and college-ready from our schools with the tools to choose to either go on to post-secondary education after high school or to directly enter the workforce successfully,” Perry said.

“The program focuses on building strong relationships with students and helping students and families to remove individual barriers that may be preventing them from success in school or in meeting these outcomes.  It is an incredible program beginning its 25th year in serving students in Maine,” she said.

Chris Strout, who has worked in the JMG program at Bonny Eagle High School for the last four years, is coming to Westbrook to launch the program there.

While the logistics are still being worked out, Strout said the goal would be to have 45 students participate in the program. 

“Right now we are ironing out the details to look at all the programs we have in place and what JMG offers to make sure they are built in a way that complements each other and doesn’t overlap, so we can maximize the impact of all our programming,” said Kelli Deveaux, principal of Westbrook High School.

The focus, she said, will be on sophomores and juniors.

Through the JMG program, Strout will be helping students explore different college and career paths and develop the academic skills to achieve their goals.

“It’s about figuring out where they want to go and how they want to get there,” he said.

Strout said he jumped on the chance to work in Westbrook once that opportunity presented itself.

“I am very excited to be part of a school that is putting its students first and finding a bunch of ways to meet students’ needs,” said Strout, a Portland resident.

Lancia said Westbrook High School once had a JMG program, but he couldn’t recall why it was disbanded. 

Nevertheless, Lancia said he is excited to have it back in Westbrook.

“It can change a lot of people’s lives and really adds value to our high school,” he said.

Michael Kelley can be reached at 781-3661 x 125 or mkelley@keepmecurrent.com or on Twitter @mkelleynews.

JMG is starting up at Westbrook High School in the 2018-19 school year to help students achieve their career aspirations. (Courtesy photo)

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