Johnston inducts first group of 37 iJAG students

PrintIMG 5742JOHNSTON, Ia. (Oct 10, 2022) — The Johnston Community School District tonight inducted its first group of 37 students into iJAG, Iowa Jobs for America’s Graduates, as the program begins its inaugural year at Johnston High School.

Iowa one of 39 states with JAG, which helps kids build the skills they need to be successful in the classroom, on the job and in life. The non-profit connects business and education to help prevent dropouts and provide school-to-career solutions. Breannah Suntken is leading the program at JHS as its instructor.

“I like iJAG. It’s a safe environment. I feel really comfortable,” said JHS student Nancy Patience, president of iJAG at Johnston High School. “Mrs. Suntken is a really good teacher. She does care a lot. You can never get too much help with preparing yourself for the future.”IMG 5745

Last year, iJAG students graduated at a rate of 97% despite facing significant barriers. That’s better than Iowa’s best-in-the-nation rate of 91.6%, according to the program’s website.

JHS students inducted into the program Monday include:

  • Eliora Anglo, Shaniya Barnes, Brandon Bowlin, Manuel Celestino, Jenny Dawngi, Leonardo Garcia, Afomia Gebremedhin, Aarona George, Geemell Glaypore, Laura Grear, Nathan Rivera Murillo, Nancy Patience and Kenton Harris;
  • Trenton Harris, Signa Holt, Emmanuel Kamara, Francisco Pelayo-Printor Jr., Hanna Mitchell, Gabriel Morales, Vivian Moss, Celina Ngo, Paris Nwagbo, Dizzo Nyandwi, Dusty Nyonee, Ilhana Palic and Raven Parizek;
  • Grace Passehl, Sam Mills, Bella Petersen, Josey Polk, Levi Rivas, Elvis Grimes, Elvin Suljic, Abraham Tehmeh, Wendy Wright, Dawson Young and Princess Zammie.

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Family members of iJAG students joined Johnston Mayor Paula Dierenfeld, Superintendent Laura Kacer and several school board members in attending Monday’s iJAG induction ceremony. Following the ceremony, the program and some of its students were recognized before the Johnston Board of Education.

iJAG provides small-group instruction to students, helping them master 37 core competencies related to school, work, and life IMG 5730success. Employers will visit the classroom to make presentations, critique student work and resumes, host mock interviews and provide mentoring.

“It’s fun. It has its professional moments,” JHS student Emmanual Kamara said of the iJAG program. “It’s a comfortable classroom and you can just be yourself. iJAG is what you make it.”

JHS student Laura Grear agreed. ““iJAG is a safe space where everyone can voice their opinions. I like how the class is student-led.”

The program will also provide students hands-on learning opportunities including job site visits, job shadowing, internships, pre-apprenticeships, summer job training or work for pay.

Some students choose iJAG because a conventional classroom doesn’t work for them, or they may be experiencing distractions or barriers at school or at home. The program relies on real-world, project-based instructional methods and an unconventional approach that emphasizes personal connections with students.

Related story: iJAG coming to Johnston next year