Cape Girardeau Public Schools add new program to Central Academy

Updated: Aug. 10, 2020 at 4:45 PM CDT
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CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KFVS) - A new program at Central Academy doesn’t just help students right now, it also sets them up for their future.

“This is gonna really help them get a huge hand up,” said Zech Payne, director of Central Academy.

When Payne found out about the Jobs for America’s Graduates Program or JAG, he knew the students would benefit.

“It meets the kids where they are right now, and it gives them the skills to survive things that have happened in their past, things that are going on in their present, and giving them skills to help them in their future,” said Robin McKinley, JAG specialist.

Starting this school year, McKinley will lead the program for high school students, some she’s worked with since kindergarten.

“Building those relationships and taking those relationships to the year after they graduate, because that’s a big component of JAG, is following those students for one year after they leave high school. And knowing that we’ve given them the skills and helped them move along to the next point in their life,” said McKinley.

As many as 45 students will take part in JAG. While it’s new to Central Academy, the program has been taught in schools across the country for years. The program also helps students build relationships with future employers before they graduate.

“This program really targets students that need an extra hand to get them to be successful in the world. Our students come from a really diverse background, and they need all the support they can have in place to help them out,” said Payne.

The students ideally join JAG as freshmen and continue through their senior year.

“A lot of it’s just taking them out of their comfort zone and putting them in places that they can see how their future can be different,” said McKinley.

“Finding ways to better serve out students. That’s the number one thing I’m excited about,” said Payne.

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