Pioneer High School counselor Chyanne Corley and junior Taylor Odle share random musical choices or text each other about random things.
For Corley, it’s provided a chance to show the community all students need someone they can trust. For Odle, it’s the kind of mentorship that made Pioneer High School, or any school, a more appealing place for Odle to be.
Pioneer’s Jobs for America’s Graduates program, a state-based, nonprofit program aimed at the prevention of dropouts, is undergoing a rebranding. It’s becoming Jobs for Nevada’s Graduates, or J4NG, by the time it’s completed. The website, www.j4ng.org, is live but a full revision will be complete this spring.
J4NG serves more than 3,250 students in Nevada in 56 programs in 45 high schools in 13 Nevada school districts. The program has a 97 percent graduation rate across the state, and its affiliate, the Jobs for America’s Graduates National Network, operating in 1,400 communities across 39 states, reaches more than 75,000 youth on an annual basis.
Nevada’s reconceptualization of the program gives the Silver State’s team an edge to go after more investors to serve local youth. J4NG is raising unrestricted funds, seeking $1.2 million from the Nevada State Legislature.
“With J4NG, we’re trying to build a strong foundation so the kids feel safe,” Corley said.
Corley previously was a JAG specialist but recently became a regional 1 coordinator. She remains at Pioneer, but as the program, established at the site in 2014, expands and rebrands, Corley will be a resource to other specialists working in other Northern Nevada schools beyond Carson City. The revised J4NG program also exists in Washoe and Douglas counties and the rural areas such as Fernley and Fallon, helping students to understand their own personalities, give them life skills, job skills and a stronger start toward adulthood, and the support and self-confidence from a variety of backgrounds from more turbulent backgrounds, Corley said.
“All you need sometimes is one other person to talk to and belong with,” Corley said. “The population here, we create diversity … they take a lot of pride in their school and they respect the ambience.”
The grant-funded program helps students in the refreshed J4NG as of last summer to find job placements in education or in the workforce. It helps students like Odle who come from challenging circumstances to thrive. Students are equipped with essential job skills and given networking and career day opportunities to build confidence.
Odle, for example, came from Carson High School her freshman year, where she said she was bullied, then transferred to Silver State Academy, which closed, and after exploring Pioneer’s elective offerings through JAG, chose her current school for the JAG, now J4NG, program.
“Being here has helped me to come out of my shell,” Odle said. “I used to be shut off and anxious. I was depressed constantly. I learned how to be myself and not be insecure about everything. Ms. Corley is my biggest supporter.”
As students graduate, the school’s staff conducts a one-year follow-up assessing how they’re doing since their time at the school.
Students are provided with stipends to purchase professional clothes for job interviews or testing or application skills to get into college or trade school. Corley said students are polled to find out what students want or need to ensure and they’re taught interviewing skills.
“We’re different in a good way,” Corley said. “The kids take so much pride in this place. They get very upset when people talk about this place or when they see other kids testing the water. They built this environment around them. When they felt it’s been infiltrated, they don’t respond well. ‘So and so’s doing some stuff.’ They don’t want to be a snitch, but they do take pride in their school. I have so much respect for this school.”