Preparing Students for Successful Futures
August 2021
JAG-K Summer Activities Can Change Lives
Topeka High School student Ryleigh Atkinson-McLaury got noticed when she spoke before a state legislative committee in the spring. Communicating with confidence and poise, she described how JAG-K helped her and fielded a variety of questions from the lawmakers.
Next thing she knew, she was sought out by the superintendent of Topeka Public Schools to apply for a communications internship with the district. Not coincidentally, the superintendent, Dr. Tiffany Anderson, serves on the JAG-K Board of Directors.
Now a graduate of Topeka High, Atkinson-McLaury is gaining valuable experience in a professional environment. In the fall, she plans to study Communications at the University of Oklahoma.
Helping JAG-K students overcome barriers to success requires year-round commitment. Atkinson-McLaury’s internship is the perfect example of the type of experience JAG-K hopes to provide all its students during the summer.

Student Adopted from Foster Care Assumes Role of JAG-K Student President
JAG-K is dedicated to helping students overcome barriers to success.
Augusta High School senior Devin Russell-Unger has not just overcome some significant barriers himself. He is now leading others to overcome theirs through his role as president of the JAG-K State Career Association, which unites JAG programs throughout Kansas.
In recognition of Russell-Unger’s remarkable story, he was invited to speak to JAG staff from across the nation at its annual training conference in July. Russell-Unger shared in a video presentation to the staff his experiences in foster care. Russell-Unger, who was adopted in March of this year, expressed that JAG-K helped him stay on course when his family situation left him directionless and unmotivated.
“Being in foster care for a good portion of my life, it really impacted me,” Russell-Unger told the national staff. “It threw me into depression for the longest part of my life, being separated from my parents and often not able to see my brothers. It really hurt my life. But that’s where JAG stepped in. It said ‘We may not be your real family, but we can be there for you every step of the way.’”
JAG-K Staff Receive Awards
JAG-K staff were honored with statewide awards at the organziation's state conference at the end of July.

Among the state award winners were Christy Pray, Augusta High School, and Ali Fisher, Westridge Middle School (Kansas City), who shared the award for Outstanding Career Specialist.

Kelly Griswold of Hiawatha High School was selected as the state's Outstanding New Career Specialist.

Earlier in July, the national JAG organization selected Kansas staff members for several awards:

Connor Phillips, JAG-K Director of Programming - "Above & Beyond During the Pandemic" award

Ali Fisher, Westridge MS (Kansas City) - 2021 Outstanding Specialist
Marcus Mitchell, Kiowa Co. HS - 2021 Outstanding Specialist
Karla Pledger, KCK Schlagle 11-12 - 2021 Outstanding Specialist
Christy Pray, Augusta HS - 2021 Outstanding Specialist

High Performer Award:
Ruth Campfield, JAG-K VP of Finance & Operations
Elizabeth Hamblin, JAG-K Regional Manager
Natalie Toney, JAG-K Director of Training

Kansas also finished second in the nation in the categories of Most Scholarship Dollars Overall, and Most Scholarships per Senior.
KHF Grant Creates Partnership Between JAG-K and Creative Pathways & Means
JAG-K and Creative Pathways & Means (CPM) will be able to take their partnership to another level, utilizing a grant from the Kansas Health Foundation (KHF) to help students explore creative outlets to overcome trauma.

JAG-K is the recipient of a $25,000 Impact and Capacity Grant from KHF. Under the terms of the grant, JAG-K will partner with CPM, a Topeka-based education and consultancy company with an interest in mental health, to develop a six-week educational unit. The goal of the project is to develop creativity and encourage expression as a pathway to well-being and success.

“Our mission is complimentary to KHF’s mission to improve the health of all Kansans, and the vision of a culture in which every Kansan can make healthy choices,” JAG-K President/CEO Chuck Knapp said.

Eagle University Equips Students
Several JAG-K student leaders attended Eagle University (featured photo at top), a five-day camp at Baker University designed to equip high school students for success in post-secondary education and their chosen careers.
(pictured: Ryah Klima, JAG-K Career Association Vice President from Concordia High School, at left, with Eagle University Executive Director, Taylor Lowe, at right)

JAG-K board member Alan Cobb, president and CEO of the Kansas Chamber of Commerce, was one of the featured speakers at the camp.
The camp seeks to guide young adults in new directions by introducing them to skills that are not commonly taught in a formal educational setting. Students heard speakers and engaged in goal-setting and time-management activities. They learned about memorization techniques, financial planning and mentorship. They also heard presentations on the importance of healthy relationships and gratitude.
“This is one of the best camps I have ever been associated with,” said Beverly Mortimer, JAG-K Sr. Vice President of Programming. “It was an excellent opportunity for our JAG-K students to spend a week with other young people from around the United States and Canada. The students were stretched out of their comfort zones and given support to grow and learn new skills. 
“The JAG-K students participated in a multitude of activities that also complement the JAG-K mission, and they went home overflowing with strategies and ideas that will benefit them on their paths to successful futures. They will be sharing some of these new strategies in their home programs, as well as preparing sessions for our state Leadership Development Conference in October.”  
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Preparing Students
for Successful Futures