Dirigo High School student Liam Poulin speaks Tuesday night about the benefits of Jobs for Maine Graduates at a meeting of the Regional School Unit 56 board of directors at Dirigo High School in Dixfield. Behind Poulin, from left, are JMG Specialist Jenn Bell, Dirigo 2021 graduate Kaitlyn Dailey, student Skylar O’Connor and JMG Chief Operating Officer Matt St. John. Marianne Hutchinson/Rumford Falls Times

DIXFIELD — Representatives of Jobs for Maine Graduates, a nonprofit organization serving 12,000 middle and high school students in every Maine county, told Regional School Unit 56 directors Tuesday night it is requesting financial support from districts it serves.

JMG partners with public education and private businesses to offer results-driven solutions to ensure all Maine students graduate, attain post-secondary credentials and pursue meaningful careers, according to its website, jmg.org.

The program has served students at Dirigo High School in Dixfield since 2017. Seventy-seven of its 228 students are enrolled, Superintendent Pam Doyen said Thursday. Fourteen of them are seniors.

The district includes Dixfield, Peru, Canton and Carthage.

JMG Chief Operating Officer Matt St. John and Regional Director Mitch Donar spoke of the value of the program and the need for finances.

The common goal is doing everything and anything possible for students from sixth grade to age 24 to help them get their high school diploma, Donar said. The graduation rate for seniors is 100%, he said.


St. John said the program is financed mainly by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, which is requesting JMG to have schools it serves provide matching funds.

“We’re looking at (and) hoping to get to that $27,000 standard contribution marker these next couple of years,” he said. RSU 56’s contribution would represent a little less than 33% of the overall annual operating costs of $85,000, he said.

Doyen said the 2023-24 budget has $13,500 added for JMG. The amount would go to $25,000 for 2024-25 and $27,000 for 2025-26, if the board and voters approve, she said.

At the meeting, three high school students told about the benefits they’ve received from the program.

Liam Poulin, a sophomore, said she began taking JMG classes in the seventh grade and it has been “a life-changing experience. JMG students have the chance to explore college opportunities in their field of expertise and interest.”

She gave much credit to her teacher, JMG Specialist Jenn Bell, who she said helped her think about her future.

Student Skylar O’Connor read a letter written by JMG student Kaylin McLean, who was unable to attend Tuesday’s meeting. McLean wrote that the program teaches students life skills and how to prepare resumes and cover letters, as well as how to participate in a job interview. “JMG totally cares about the well-being of their students and helps them in every way possible. We are supported and always offered help with anything we need, whether it be academic or work-related,” she wrote.

Kaitlyn Dailey, a 2021 Dirigo graduate, said JMG was her favorite class and taught her “a lot of valuable lifelong skills that we will need in order to be successful, such as how to write a resume and cover letter, how to prepare for and present ourselves during a job interview, and how to budget and save money.”

Doyen said the program was originally offered also at T.W. Kelly Dirigo Middle School in Dixfield but there was more interest at the high school so the JMG specialist transitioned to there full time.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: