Leap of faith

Partnerships provide students with mental, physical resources

Art+by+Audrey+Goode%2C+which+depicts+a+student+jumping+into+open+arms+of+help.
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Leap of faith

Art by Audrey Goode, which depicts a student jumping into open arms of help.

Art by Audrey Goode, which depicts a student jumping into open arms of help.

Photo by: Audrey Goode

Art by Audrey Goode, which depicts a student jumping into open arms of help.

Photo by: Audrey Goode

Photo by: Audrey Goode

Art by Audrey Goode, which depicts a student jumping into open arms of help.

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Ever since he was young, Jeremy had always been accustomed to having only the bare essentials and fending for himself, until he found Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG). 

Due to the sensitivity of the subject, the featured student has requested to remain anonymous and will be referred to as Jeremy. 

JAG is a program coordinated by Jessica Thomas that focuses on preparing students for challenges in school, home and life and just one of the resources available to students..

“After I was kicked out of my parents’ house, everything kind of went downhill for me. I felt like I had nothing going for me. I was in some really low points in life,” Jeremy said. “But after I got involved with JAG, I know that there are people out there to help me, people willing to help me. It really did bring me out of the hole I was in.” 

It really did bring me out of the hole I was in.”

— Jeremy

JAG aims to meet different needs in addition to providing basic tangible items. 

“I help students prepare for life. Filling out job applications and even helping them prepare for interviews,” Thomas said. “Just being that person that kind of helps them through those transitions to college or transitions to work.” 

Another resource available to students in Communities in Schools (CIS). Each school in the district has a site coordinator and Reannon McCoy is located at the high school. She oversees 65 students on her caseload.

CIS also targets supporting students for success in and beyond the classroom by providing mentorship and attempting to meet students’ needs, such as feminine products, medical care, supplemental food, school supplies or clothing and shoes.

Sophomore Sarah Benner was able to acquire necessary clothing because of McCoy and CIS. Benner was given a $100 budget at JC Penney and was able to buy shirts, socks and pants. 

While Benner was thankful for the items, she was hesitant to reach out for help at first. 

“I felt kind of embarrassed. A friend of mine told her about how my family kind of struggles with things, and she offered to help me a little,” Benner said. “Ms. McCoy is very understanding and if other students needed help with getting school supplies or stuff like that, just talk to her about [your needs] because she’d be more than happy to help.”

Jeremy also encourages other students to reach out if they need help of any kind. 

“If you’re absolutely needing something, don’t be afraid to ask for it,” Jeremy said. “If you don’t ask, it will lead you somewhere you don’t want to be. Even if you just reach out to one person, they will point you in the right direction. Just ask for help.”

If you’re absolutely needing something, don’t be afraid to ask for it,”

— Jeremy

McCoy also supplies additional snack foods to approximately 100 students throughout the day. 

“I also provide backpacks full of food for students who don’t have enough food over the weekend,” McCoy said. 

In the month of September, she had sent home backpacks of food with three students.

CIS also provides students with healthcare through its partnership with VSP Vision Care. The service provides every student in need with a vision prescription and glasses

Another available service provided to each student is a free dental screening. In addition to screenings, other services are available, including nurse Carrie Logiudici and permanent full-time health clinic run by the Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas. On Wednesdays, from 7:45 am to 3:45 pm, the KidCare Mobile Van is at the high school and provides sports physicals, immunizations, mature minor visits and other services. 

Starting on Sept. 30, students and staff will have access to an advanced practice registered nurse who will also provide care in the building and will be able to write prescriptions for medication if necessary. 

So far this year, the clinic has experienced over 1,632 visits by students for care.

Beginning in October, Ashley Neely, a licensed clinical counselor, will transition to working five days a week. 

Counselor Stef Loveland is one of the staff members who stocks “Club 209A,” a storage room of supplies for students, with food, clothing, hygiene products, laundry detergent and school supplies. The needs closet is utilized daily and is open for all students to use. 

I hope everyone feels like they have someone and that they will be taken care of when they come [to school].”

— Stef Loveland

“The longtime goal with [Club209A] is if students need clothes or shoes, we have that for them here. Even if it is something as small as spilling coffee down your shirt during school, we want to have a place where that person can go and get clothes,” Loveland said. “We want to take care of each other as a family and I hope everyone feels like they have someone and that they will be taken care of when they come [to school].” 

Loveland encourages students to use any of the services the school provides.

“I just want our Dragon family to see that helping students is very important to us,” Loveland said. “We want to take care of each other as a family and I hope everyone feels like they have someone and that they will be taken care of when they come to school.”

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