Mayor, Commissioner, Honor New Haven JAG Students

New Haven’s first Initiation and Installation (I&I) Ceremony was a festive and well-attended event, with Mayor Toni Harp, state of Connecticut Labor Department Commissioner Sharon M. Palmer, Superintendent Garth Harries, Senator Gary Winfield, and many other district and community leaders turning out to recognize JAG’s students being formally sworn in to the Career Association.

But student contributions had equal weight, with a riveting musical performance by Ravel Martinez and moving speech by Career Association President Zakeya Herring.IMG_3844-BryanBrookshire-edit

IMG_3706“I know the name can lead to thinking this is just about jobs but this program is so much more than that,” Ms. Herring said. “JAG is a way to help people establish and develop values and personalized goals. Its has taught us about professionalism, diversity, leadership, pushes us to want to get involved in future civic and social awareness and community outreach projects.”

Mayor Harp led off by thanking Commissioner Palmer for helping bring JAG to Connecticut and to New Haven.

“This is vital to the health of the city,” said Mayor Harp. “JAG helps young people understand that good academic attendance leads to good employment, and each job contains the opportunity for learning and promotion and advancement.”

“When I was teaching, I saw a lot of very bright students who had barriers, but who had potential,” said Commissioner Palmer. “I wish JAG had been there for them. I believe this program can really change lives. Please remember to use your successes now to support your families and communities. Keep learning, be able to change when needed.”

IMG_3653-edit Alderman Carlton Staggers used his keynote address to urge students to focus on academics and to pay attention to relationships. “Be nice to everyone,” he said. “You never know who  will be sitting in front of you someday, interviewing you for a job!”

As JAG CT’s Director, I took the opportunity to thank both Commissioner Palmer and her Executive Assistant, Art Perry, for their extraordinary efforts in bringing JAG to CT. Long before JAG CT had any staff or an institutional home, Art and Sharon were exploring the program, visiting other states to see it in action, and working incredibly hard to build support and bring it here. JAG CT would not exist without their efforts.z herring and president

New Haven’s JAG programs, at Hillhouse and New Horizons, have each elected officers to lead the Career Association, which will now reinforce JAG’s leadership and professional skills training by designing and carrying out community services and civic engagement projects throughout the year. They were sworn in, and each JAG student also recited the Career Association Creed as they were sworn in as members.

Thanks to the all who attended: members of JAG CT’s Advisory Board, Dr. Martin Estey and Steve Pynn, in addition to Commissioner Palmer and Art Perry;  Eddie Cajigas of the Department of Labor, Alicia Caraballo of the Board of Education, Suzanne Lyons, Zakiyah Baker of Hillhouse, Paulette Jackson of New Horizons, Jason Bartlett, Gemma Joseph Lumpkin, Kermit Carolina and many others. And thanks also to Specialists Nicole Jones of Hillhouse and Courtney Sak of New Horizons, and their students, whose hard work and attention to detail made the event a success. 


A Conversation Worth Having


NBHSSC classes welcomed guest speaker Michael Peterson from New Britain High School for a brief heart to heart last week.

Dean of Students at New Britain High, Mr. Peterson is a motivational individual, stellar artist, and poet laureate of New Britain. Mr. Peterson was invited to speak with the students in my JAG class and in Mr. Kerrigan’s classes. His remarks were focused on motivating students and sharing his own story.


Stemming from a difficult background, Mr. Peterson brings invaluable insight into the classroom  as an individual growing up in a challenged home environment. The majority of his work was performed in spoken verse, but the students were most captivated by his poems detailing the life he hopes to give to his son and daughter. Coming from mixed racial backgrounds, Mr. Peterson and his family share many commonalities with the students of the SCA, and as such a feeling of mutual experience was established from initiation.

In line with our recent JAG Curriculum module, Mr. Peterson’s presentation focused heavily on the concept of value. Economically and socially, JAG imparts a sense of integrity in its students by emphasizing the urgency of prioritizing one’s values. These competencies dealing with the acquisition and orientation of one’s values serve to direct a student’s learning in such a way as to focus their attention on what they themselves value and how that could affect their future career choices.


The students, initially curious as to what the purpose of the talk would be, quickly turned what could have been a one way presentation into a conversation between like-minded individuals. Mr. Peterson left the room with a final sentiment: It’s not your responsibility to ensure the happiness of others; only yourself. Greet everyone as you would wish to be greeted.

We at the SCA were honored to have his presence and look forward to reconnecting with him for future classes.

New Britain I&I: Write Your Own Story!

JAG CT’s second Installation and Installation ceremony drew more than 100 students, parents, dignitaries and supporters, as JAG participants from New Britain High School and the NBHS Satellite Careers Academy joined forces to plan and carry out the event October 29.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Special thanks to Senator Terry Gerratana, who secured legislative citations for all JAG Career Association elected officers, and to State Representatives Rick Lopes and Peter Tercyak for attending and helping award the citations and certificates of participation. The Career Association is a core element of the JAG program, and all JAG students were recognized as members. Students elect peer leaders, and design and carry out community service projects and  throughout the year, in addition to their elective credit JAG course.

NBHS alum Tammy Lorenzo, of Career Beginnings, delivered the keynote address, sharing her own journey of discovering mentors and finding her way.

“That’s what JAG is all about – a dedicated person to help you and stay with you,” she said, referring to JAG’s 12 months 20151029_185915of follow-up services. “Take advantage of what JAG has to offer you!”

NBHSSCA Principal Mike Foran thanks Lorenzo, and reminded JAG students that their own stories are still theirs to write.

“Think of how you want to be seen and remembered in other people’s stories,” he said. “Do you want to be that person who was there for others when they needed you? You want to be the person others can count on.”SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Awarding the legislative citations, Senator Gerratana reminded students they are part of something larger – that JAG has been supported by the state of Connecticut’s Department of Labor, representing their value to the state and to its leaders.

JAG students from both the High School and the Satellite Careers Academy –and NBHS Specialist Emily Carver —  worked hard to plan and carry20151029_181711 out the event, transforming the cafeteria into a festive and elegant venue.

Thanks to all who took part, including Superintendent  Kelt Cooper,  assistant superintendent Paul Salina, Associate Principals Joseph Pinchera and Kerri-Lyn Major, school counselor Ed Dejesus, dean of students Mike Peterson, and NBHS teachers Mr. Bornn, Ms. Mowchan, Ms. Higgins, Mr. Zayas, Mr. Malinowski and Ms. Bernacki. Thanks also to Paulette Fox, Executive Director of OIC in New Britain, and Sue Bowen Harris of the Hartford Consortium for Higher Education, for attending!

To any and all involved in our Installation and Initiation Ceremony we would like to extend our warmest gratitude. As the Career Association and JAG go forward, we want to recognize those who have been critical in our successes in both the classroom and the community!


20151029_171847 (1)