Moses Lake Program Featured in Venue Magazine

Specialists Bobi Spence and Amador Castro

Specialists Bobi Spence and Amador Castro

Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) is a state-based national non-profit organization dedicated to preventing dropouts among young people who are most at-risk.  Moses Lake High School offers this program.

JAG has 34 years of successful data backing it which proves the graduates of this program have a plan for their future, the intellect to succeed against the odds, a detailed plan for post-secondary training, work, or military service, and a confident and well established skill set to face the adult world into which he/she will be entering.

The JAG National model is based on 81 competencies which students need to successfully master from their 9th to 12th grade year. The competencies are based on nine subcategories: career development, job attainment, job survival, basic skills, leadership and self-development, personal skills, life survival, and work place skills.

Amador Castro, JAG Specialist

”I don’t like teaching JAG, I love it. We all have barriers that can hold us back from achieving the things we want. The majority of my students see these barriers and it is easy to want to just give up. Whether it is because someone told them they wouldn’t amount to anything or they just simply don’t see a way out. That’s what I’m here for. We create a family environment in the classroom. They will call each other out on their issues and hold each other accountable. I also love that we get opportunities to do things a typical class doesn’t. We’ve been able to take students to Washington DC and be a part of a Student Leadership Conference and also to the Great Wolf Lodge for student competitions. It’s amazing to see, when given these opportunities, how they come out of their shells, feel confident, stand proud and wow the judges. Those are the moments I love the most. My main focus for my freshmen is to help them figure out what they are really into. Not just video games but real things. They take assessments which help them see what type of work they would be good at. With my upper class-men my goal is to help them master the JAG competencies and of course help them gain employment. I know it works when the students come to me and ask for help in dealing with people or management in the work place.”

Bobi Spence, JAG Specialist

“Amado and I teach ALL grades of JAG. Most of the students are referred to each of the programs by classroom teachers, administrators, parents or counselors. Thus far, a few students have asked to come in to the program as they have heard about it from other students. We began these two programs 4 years ago. JAG is the tool I use to reach the students who may or may not fit the traditional classroom model. These students are bright, innovative thinkers, and challenge you to keep one step ahead of them and the world they live in today. JAG allows them to see beyond their present space and time to the world they want, and gives them a blueprint for reaching that goal via a method more innovative than they may have ever dreamed possible. We use real life lessons, workplace skill set modeling, guest speakers, field trips, work based learning experiences, and student success curriculum from Stephen Covey and others like him, to support the needs of our students. We do home visits, parent phone calls, empowering student discussions, and mentoring to reach out to the students and their parents.”

Vicki Groff, Moses Lake School Board Member

“Anytime the opportunity is presented to prevent dropouts among young people, help them stay in school through graduation, pursue post-secondary education and secure quality entry level jobs leading to advancement opportunities, my interested is piqued. I first became aware of JAG in 2011, and shortly after was invited to participate as a member of their advisory board. The scope of the curriculum combined with the quality of our Moses Lake High School instructors has provided personal growth for the many students who have chosen to participate. Not only are the character traits of courage, integrity, commitment and citizenship embedded within the curriculum, the ‘soft skills’ attributes of personal and professional communication, interpersonal relationship building, time management, honesty and adaptability are woven into instruction. JAG students improve their prospects for entry level jobs. JAG is helping students develop the ability to transfer vision into reality. From my perspective as a Moses Lake School Director, I see the positive results JAG students receive as they explore the values taught and how they can be exemplified in daily life.”

Christine Armstrong, CTE Director

“JAG is one of the most beneficial programs for students that I have been a part of in my twenty-nine years in education for the at-risk student. The program at MLHS is successful because of the instructors chosen. They care about all aspects of the student and building their self-esteem so that they can be successful in all areas of life.”


If you are interested in offering your support in any capacity for these students with barriers, please contact Amador Castro at or Bobi Spence at, your school board members, or Josh Meeks, Principal at Moses Lake High School. They are very willing to share the goals and outcome of JAG with you or your community organization.

The JAG Model is very cost effective. An average cost of $1,470 per participant that can be recovered in taxes once that JAG person is employed within an approximation of 14 month and provides no less than twelve months of follow-up services and support to graduates for entry-level employment and or post-secondary enrollment. We are fortunate to have such an outstanding program and dedicated team of professionals to move our children forward in these unpredictable times.

We Love Workplace Giving

Generosity is overflowing in the halls of King County and State office buildings. It is that time of year when employees dedicate a portion of their paychecks to be a part of making our communities better for everyone.

We were pleased to see that King County Employees have already donated $600 to JWG through their workplace giving program.

If you, or someone you know is a King County Employee, please encourage them to donate to us. Our Giving Code is 9601

We have also received donations from the Washington State Combined Fund Drive.

If you work for the State, or someone you know does, please consider a donation to JWG:

 The JWG Charity Code is 1481320



Specialist Tribute from 2013 Benefit Luncheon

At our “Getting to Graduation and Beyond” luncheon, we recognized the men and women who work tirelessly to make sure their students succeed. Nine Jobs for Washington’s Graduates Specialists were in attendance.  They, along with their other 47 colleagues, are no less than heroes to the students they work with. They instill hope when often there is none. Their commitment is extraordinary as they work endless hours with great patience and perseverance to meet their students’ needs.

Here is the tribute delivered by Dennis Bounds of KING 5 News:

Kitti Wheeler. Kitti is beginning her 4th year teaching Jobs for Washington’s Graduates at Lakewood Career Academy. She has been recognized as an “Outstanding Specialist”, Rotary Teacher of the Month, Daffodil Festival Teacher of the Year and has earned her National Board Teacher Certification. A passionate proponent of JWG, she, along with a student and her principal, Kevin Rupprechet, testified on behalf of the program before the House Education Committee. Thank you, Kitti. 

Suzanne Gretch. Suzanne is beginning her fourth year teaching JWG at the New Tech Skills Center in Spokane. Due to partnerships made with regular classroom teachers and employers, Suzanne’s students are highly successful at both getting their diplomas and being hired. She is dedicated to this work because she knows that the skills taught will benefit her students throughout their adult lives. Thank you, Suzanne.

Terry Derrig. Terry became a teacher after a career in banking. She is a National Board Certified Teacher and Specialist at Renton High School and loves seeing her students “get it”—that moment when they finally realize that their path to success is their education and that no matter who they are, or where they came from, they can have a successful and productive life. Thank you, Terry.

Lisa Reynolds and Sue Tucker. Lisa is a guest speaker today, so we’ll hear her story a little later. But I will mention she teaches Job for Washington’s Graduates at Lynden High School and team-teaches with Sue Tucker at the Community Transitions program. 100% of their JWG students from the Class of 2012 earned high school diplomas. Thank you, Lisa and Sue.

Micah Arneberg. Micah has been an educator at Mt. Tahoma High School for 16 years. This is her 2nd year as a Specialist and she is incredibly proud of a program that recognizes students that are at risk and uses effective ways to engage them to become productive, successful adults able to give back to the community. She is here today with one of her students, Dean Chittenden Jr, who will be recognized with a special award later in the program. Thank you, Micah.

Caroline Craig. This is Caroline’s fourth year as a Specialist at New Market Skills Center in Tumwater and she would tell you that this is her dream job. Caroline has taught at-risk youth for over 30 years. She is most proud when her students are able to envision themselves making a living wage in a career that interests them. Thank you, Caroline.

Geri Prater and Jenny Tate. Geri and Jenny began just last month co-teaching our state’s newest program at Stanwood High School made possible by start-up funding provided by AT&T. Geri has been an educator for 12 years and prior to that worked as a vocational rehabilitation counselor for the Department of Social and Health Services.

Jenny has been a special education instructor for 16 years. Both Geri and Jenny like Jobs for Washington’s Graduates because they are able to provide individualized support to each student to reach their goals. Thank you.

Marilyn Conger.  Marilyn teaches at the Puget Sound Skills Center in Burien where she works with 50 teens that are enrolled in their credit retrieval program. In 2010 & 2012, she was recognized by Jobs for America’s Graduates as an Outstanding Specialist. Last year, five of her students earned industry certifications: 2 in nursing and 3 in culinary arts. Thank you, Marilyn.

In Their Own Words: Students Share Why JWG Should Get State Funding

Our JWG Specialist from Lynden High School, Lisa Reynolds, asked her students to share why JWG should be funded. HERE IS WHAT THEY HAD TO SAY:

 “I don’t even know how to say how much the JWG program has helped me . . . from increasing my confidence to helping me get my first job . . . I don’t think I would have graduated without JAG.”  Kaitlyn, LHS graduate, class of 2013

 JWG gives students the opportunity to learn by doing things like field trips and shows students that working together and team building is important.”  Erin, LHS graduate, class of 2013

 “I would say continue funding the JWG program.  Experiencing and seeing firsthand what the JWG program has to offer, it does a lot of good  . . . There were some kids in who in the beginning of the year who weren’t very motivated—didn’t really want a job and not doing any homework (Me!)  By the end of the year, my attitude changed quite a bit.  I currently now have a job and am passing all my classes.  I do give a lot of credit to the JWG program for helping me stay on track to graduate.”  Josh, LHS graduate, class of 2013

 I believe this class alone is more useful than any of the other classes we are required to take.  JWG has given me a confidence I can use for the real word  . . . this is the only class I’ve heard of that gives students real world advice in a { supportive}  learning environment . . . “  Micheal, LHS senior, will graduate next year

 “I would tell them that it is a beneficial class that helps students that really don’t like school or feel like they’re not as smart as other students . . .”  Jose, LHS graduate, class of 2013

 If there wasn’t JWG, I don’t think I would even be in school . . .”  Roman, LHS senior who will graduate next year.

 “I would just have a lot of positive things to say.  Tell them to never stop funding for this program because it has helped a lot of students graduate on time and receive their earned diplomas.  It’s the best program there ever was . . .”  Ceci, LHS senior, will graduate next year

 “JWG has helped me so much in life I don’t know what I would do without it.  Funding for the JWG program is a huge thing to me because I would like to continue being in this class while still in high school.  JWG is a very important thing to many people because of the mistakes they have made and how it has turned their lives around.”  Chelsea, LHS junior, class of 2014

 “This program has helped many and should help many more . . . if you keep on funding this program you will not be disappointed, but if you do not, then  you will be disappointing a lot of students at Lynden High School.”  Domingo, LHS junior, class of 2014

 To keep doing what they are doing because it really helps kids.  It helps them make better decisions.”  Francisco, LHS junior, class of 2014

 “I’d say to keep funding JWG because it really helps keep you on track for people who need help.  Also, it helps you to prepare for life after high school . . .”  Jose, LHS junior, class of 2014

 “If you get rid of JWG, you get rid of hundreds, maybe thousands, of students’ graduations and futures . .  they won’t know how to go into an interview and get a job . . . that’s why you should keep funding JWG.”  Josh, LHS junior, class of 2014

 “I would tell them this class has really helped me with all my classes.  If I wasn’t here with you (in JWG) I would be failing . . . “  Tricia, LHS junior, class of 2014

AT&T Funds JWG Program Start-ups

AT&T recently awarded $30,000 to start JWG programs in the Franklin Pierce school district. From left to right: Randy Dorn, Superintendent of Public Instruction, Carol Tagayum, Director of External Affairs for AT&T, Sly Boskovich, Career and Technical Education Director for the Franklin Pierce school district and Dr. Frank Hewins, Superintendent for Franklin Pierce.


AT&T Funds JWG

AT&T Teams Up with Jobs for America’s Graduates


Janelle Duray, Job’s for America’s Graduates

(703) 706-9645 /


Jobs for America’s Graduates and AT&T Team Up to Help Students Succeed

Support will help JAG reach more youth at risk of dropping out

 Alexandria, Va., April 23, 2013 – Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) and AT&T are working together to raise the nation’s high school graduation  rate by expanding  mentoring, tutoring and other academic support for students at risk of dropping out.

AT&T has contributed $1 million to JAG to allow the national non-profit to add new schools and/or expand existing programs with proven records of success in keeping kids in school.

JAG programs help underserved students overcome barriers to graduation through mentoring, tutoring, academic support and links to social services among other interventions.  With a high school diploma or General Educational Diploma, students are guided into post-secondary education, entry-level careers or the military.

“We commend AT&T for its leadership in investing in programs that work for America’s most high-risk young people. It sets a standard we hope other companies will emulate,” said JAG’s Chairman, Governor Jack Markell of Delaware.  “This one-million dollar commitment will allow us to add 30-40 new JAG programs, helping 1,600 new young people build a strategy for their success.”

“We are encouraged by the recent news that for the first time we are on a path to reach a 90 percent national graduation rate by 2020[1], but we also know there is more work to be done,” said Charlene Lake, Senior Vice President of Public Affairs and Chief Sustainability Officer at AT&Tand JAG board member.  “Bringing to scale programs like JAG that are making a measurable impact on the students that need it most is one of the key ways we can stay on track to meet our graduation goal.”

In 2011, JAG’s network of affiliates reported a 94 percent high school graduation rate, compared to the national graduation rate of 78.2 percent[2].  Currently, the JAG model is offered in nearly 1,000 public high schools, community colleges, and alternative learning centers in 32 states.

Through a Request for Proposal process supported by AT&T, JAG will provide incentive grants contingent upon matching fundsto:

  • New network affiliates that can demonstrate the capacity to sustain long-term operations
  • Existing affiliates that can demonstrate the capacity to support additional students

All affiliates on-board through this program must demonstrate the ability to comply with JAG’s national standards of achievement for graduation rates, attainment of meaningful employment and/or enrollment in postsecondary education.

“It is rare in our experience for a company to be as thorough and tough minded in its approach of supporting strategies that are proven to work – and then get behind them with both money and critical organizational commitment as well,” said JAG’s CEO and President, Ken Smith.  “AT&T has indeed set a gold standard.”

In more than three decades of operation, JAG has helped nearly one million young people stay in school through graduation, pursue postsecondary education and secure quality entry-level jobs leading to career advancement opportunities.

Since 2008, AT&T and the AT&T Foundation have provided approximately $4 million in funding to JAG and its local affiliates.  This support is part of AT&T Aspire, AT&T’s $350 million commitment to education. With more than 1 million students impacted since its launch in 2008, Aspire is one of the nation’s largest corporate commitments focused on helping more students graduate from high school ready for college and careers.



About Jobs for America’s Graduates

Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG), is a non-profit youth development program committed to helping America’s most at-risk kids excel in high schools, prepare for success in college, and embark on a rewarding career. Since its inception in 1980, JAG has served nearly 1 million at-risk kids, and is currently serving over 44,000 students in 32 states.  JAG students have a graduation rate of over 90 percent, and approximately 80 percent of those graduates go on to postsecondary education, military service and/or full-time employment.

About Philanthropy at AT&T

AT&T Inc. is committed to advancing education, strengthening communities and improving lives. Through its philanthropic initiatives, AT&T has a long history of supporting projects that create learning opportunities; promote academic and economic achievement; and address community needs. In 2012, more than $131 million was contributed through corporate-, employee- and AT&T Foundation-giving programs.


[1] Alliance for Excellent Education, America’s Promise Alliance, Civic Enterprises, and the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University. Building a Grad Nation: Progress and Challenge in Ending the High School Dropout Epidemic, Annual Update February 2013.

[2] Ibid.

Puget Sound Skills Center Holds Initiation and Installation Ceremony


It was a proud moment for 48 JWG students at the Puget Sound Skills Center as they were officially inducted into the JWG student-led Career Association. The ceremony was led by the Career Association student leadership team.

The four goals of the Career Association are leadership development, career preparation, and civic and social awareness. Each participant is subject to the JWG Committment:

  • I believe I have the right to establish high personal and career goals and to develop those skills necessary to achieve my goals.
  • I believe I must choose a career appropriate to my interests, abilities and aptitudes.
  • I believe the success of the free enterprise system depends on the cooperation of business, education, labor, government, community and the youth of this nation.
  • I believe that each individual has the responsibility to develop an appreciation for productive work and a respect for all careers.
  • I believe each person should have the opportunity to develop their full potential and recognize their value to society.
  • I believe my success is earned through my efforts at school and at work.
  • I believe the growth of my abilities and experiences gained through JWG will assure my future career success.
  • I will carry out to the best of my ability the responsibilities of membership in the Jobs for Washington’s Graduates program.

JWG Specialists Recognized for Excellence

Congratulations Suzanne Gretch (NewTech Skills Center, Spokane), Caroline Craig (New Market Skills Center, Tumwater), Kitti Wheeler (Lakewood Career Academy, Lakewood) and Bobi Spence (Moses Lake High School, Moses Lake) for being recognized as an “Outstanding Specialist” based on success in fully implementing the JAG Model and achieving extraordinary outcomes for JWG participants.

Awards presented at the Jobs for America’s Graduates National Training Seminar by JAG President, Ken Smith.