NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - A noontime class of seniors at Fairview High School in Williamson County listened intently as John Dwyer, President and CEO of Jobs For Tennessee Graduates (JTG), shared an important message with students.
"Being in this class, you're going to have an edge on 99 percent of your peers all across Tennessee, going across that graduation stage, getting their diplomas,” Dwyer said.
This particular JTG class is one of 19 being offered in 14 Tennessee Counties. "I promise you. You'll have an edge, because you've been in here. They aren't prepared," Dwyer said.
Vickie Parsons teaches The Jobs For Tennessee Graduates class at Fairview High School.
"Do you agree networking is a good skill to have when you're looking for a job?" Parsons asked the class. The students seemed engaged and eagerly responded to their instructor’s question.
Paying attention in this classroom could be critical to achieving their goals, because Parsons is teaching them how to excel in job interviews, write a resume, get involved in community service, and dress for success.
Former student Kathryn Lincoln knows this better than anyone. Lincoln is a former Fairview High School graduate who participated in the JTG program several years ago. She told News 4 that what she learned in the class helped her grow as a person and get a job.
"After she hired me she said the only reason she hired me instead of them, who had more experience, was because I dressed very professionally and had a resume printed in a folder ready to hand to her. And that was thanks to Miss Parsons," Lincoln said.
JTG is a non-profit program that also provides an annual free trip for students to Washington D.C.
"It was a big deal, especially getting to see the Lincoln statue. My last name is Lincoln. So it was a big experience. My mom and dad told me to take plenty of pictures. We got to go to a conference up there. We got to go to the museum," Lincoln said.
The students also get to put their job skills to the test by running a real food stand inside the high school.
"And by working our snack shack, and running our register, and learning customer service, they're able to put this on their resume and their job applications,” Parsons said.
Jobs For Tennessee Graduates touts a graduation rate above 96 percent. The program also states that a third of all graduates find full time jobs right out of school. Students told News 4 they were motivated and ready.
"I want to go to UTK and study electrical engineering. It'll definitely help me get a job after college, “ said senior Logan White.
The JTG program is also inspiring some students to want to give back.
“I'd really like to start working non-profit organizations, and maybe start a few of my own,” said Ilsa Person, another senior at the school.
"Our mission for JTG is improving young lives forever. So this program, I feel, definitely does that,” Parsons said.
JTG is an affiliate of Jobs For America's Graduates and is designed to help kids facing barriers to graduation reach their goals. Trips and other activities are paid for through various fundraisers. For more information about which schools offer this special program, how to qualify, and how to donate, click here.