By Recker McDowell —
We are not sure when schools across Arizona and the country will fully reopen. But as schools and workplaces eventually get back to some sense of normalcy it will be as important as ever to support programs that help students with their academic and career paths.
Some of those notable efforts are through Jobs for Arizona Graduates which partners with schools, the business community, and other nonprofits to help students get their degrees and help prepare them for the next steps academically and career wise.
In Scottsdale, JAG partners with Scottsdale Leadership for a program that helps students at Coronado High School including informing them about jobs and careers and how to prepare and dress for interviews.
The program also collects new and lightly used business attire that students can wear to job and internship interviews.
Like other programs, the efforts are impacted by COVID-19 and the need for social distancing.
“During the school year, program students are exposed to local businesses through professional events and mock interview type situations,” said Anne Semerar-Gwin, who has helped Scottsdale Leadership’s efforts at Coronado High.
Semerar-Gwin said Coronado teacher Wendy Paez Gonzales leads the JAG program at the Scottsdale high school.
“Her ask was for our Scottsdale Leadership Project Lead it Forward (PLIF) team to establish a ‘clothes closet’, or means to provide students in the program a professional outfit to use at JAG events throughout the school year and beyond to post-graduation,” Semerar-Gwin said.
Scottsdale Leadership has conducted clothing drives to collect new and gently used business attire for students.
Semerar-Gwin said a pre-COVID visit to Coronado High reinforced the importance of the program and how mentoring and encouragement can mean a world of difference to a young person.
“What made this project really special was that our PLIF team had an opportunity to meet and interact with Coronado’s JAG students, and in our team’s words, it was epic. We went to Coronado high school to drop off the collected donations from the clothing drive and were immediately impressed by the professionalism of the JAG students. It was evident that Wendy serves as an excellent leader and mentor instilling professional and life skills. Meeting the students in their classroom brought back memories and emotions from our own high school experiences. We were honored to have the opportunity to share a little bit about our careers and processional experiences – as well as our passion for learning, and how that extends beyond high school and college and into opportunities like Scottsdale Leadership. The icing on the cake from our visit was when the men on our PLIF team taught all of the students to tie neckties.”
The program helps students learn proper and professional and workplace etiquette including interviewing skills, making eye contact and best practices for resumes and job applications.
“But, more than all of that, this program gives them the confidence to know they can do it, and that there are people here to help them get where they are going,” said Dana Close, program and events manager for Scottsdale Leadership.
Close said the program is also geared towards encouraging students to stay and school and for those who might have strong support structures at home. Close said the JAG program at Coronado is exactly the type of program that appeals to Scottsdale Leadership and its commitment to community and concept of ‘Servant Leadership’.
Like everything else, the program will change as nonprofits, schools and businesses navigate COVID-19. But like other important and worthy causes let’s hope it evolves and continues to help students.
To donate to Coronado High School JAG Program, go to: scottsdaleJAG.net.
To learn more and get involved with Scottsdale Leadership contact Dana Close at firstname.lastname@example.org.