July 2017 Newsletter


"Over the past two years, JMG has helped me gain confidence in myself as a leader and a person.  I learned a lot about myself and my work ethic. Thanks to JMG, I was able to participate in the Thomas College Summer Academy where I realized that I want to pursue my education after high school. Without JMG, I would not have discovered my desire to become a teacher."
Halen Harris
Calais High School, Class of 2017


JMG's annual Statewide meetings have always been a time of celebration. Held every June at the end of the school year, the en tire company comes together to reflect back over the previous 12 months. We celebrate our student outcomes; the hard work  and commitment of our Specialists; and, the generosity of our partners. We are excited to announce that at last month's Statewide meeting, JMG recognized one of those partners, presenting the Sam L. Cohen Foundation with the JMG Compass Award for its investment in our organization and longstanding commitment to our students. 
That commitment started nearly two decades ago, in March of 1998. The Foundation made a significant first gift: a 5-year grant supporting JMG's drop-out prevention and career preparation services. Since then, the Foundation has continued to provide important funding - contributing to JMG's ability to grow from serving 2,000 students annually, to helping more than 6,500 young people reach their potential each year.
In accepting the JMG Compass Award, Executive Director of the Foundation, John Shoos said, "I'm honored to receive the JMG Compass Award on behalf of the Sam L. Cohen Foundation. We really appreciate the work you all do. We know it makes a big different in kids' lives. There is a great connection between the Foundation and JMG.  Sam [Cohen] was very people-centered. I know he would be very pleased to support this student-centered organization. Thank you to each of you for choosing to be in this field. You have put your passion into this work, and it really shows."

(L to R) JMG Executive Vice President, Kim Lipp; JMG Alumnus Caroline Gallant; Sam L. Cohen Foundation Executive Director, John Shoos; and JMG CEO, Craig Larrabee

During the Compass Award presentation, JMG student Caroline Gallant expressed her appreciation for the Foundation's support and shared how that support has impacted her life. The following is an excerpt of her speech.

Good Morning - JMG Specialists, JMG administration and especially the great people from the Sam L. Cohen Foundation. My name is Caroline Gallant, and I am a recent graduate of Biddeford High School and a proud alumnus of the Biddeford  JMG Program. I would like to start by thanking the Cohen Foundation for your tremendous support of JMG in southern Maine. Your efforts have made it possible for many students to maximize their potential and to excel in their chosen field.

My dad died when I was 12. I had just completed my 6th grade year at Cape Elizabeth Middle School. I was overwhelmed and traumatized and didn't know how to process all of the events that were unfolding in my life at the time. My dad was an enormous influence on my life. I was "Daddy's Little Girl." My dad liked to fish, and he would bring me along on many of his fishing trips. We established a very close bond and those times spent with him are still cherished memories I will always hold close to my heart.

The next two years were extremely difficult. My family moved and I entered 7th grade at Biddeford Middle School. I was not engaged in school or in my social life. I was withdrawn, depressed, and considered myself to be anti-social. But, by the end of 8th grade, I had begun to get excited about transitioning to Biddeford High School. I enrolled in JMG as a freshman. JMG allowed me to express myself in creative ways; it encouraged me to step outside of my comfort zone and to develop my leadership skills. I attended several student enrichment events; took part in a JMG presentation to the Biddeford School Committee; and, helped organize and run our Annual Winter Carnival. All of these are examples of things that allowed me to demonstrate how far I had come since my father's passing. 

Caroline Gallant accepting her diploma
  Caroline accepting her diploma.
I created special bonds with classmates I had known for years, but had never connected with before. JMG gave me a sense of connectedness and value. I was able to develop into a confident leader and trusted friend. I needed all of those things more than I knew at the time.

I graduated several weeks ago and plan to pursue a career in architecture. When I look back and reflect on all that I have accomplished over the last seven years, I find myself feeling thankful for all of the people in my life that have supported me in my journey. I am especially thankful for the role that Mr. Heal and JMG have played in my development. I am truly grateful for the support that the Sam L. Cohen Foundation provides to JMG.
by Randy Inosencio, College Specialist, University of Southern Maine
When I first started working for JMG over a decade ago, I was at South Portland High School working with freshmen through seniors. The students I worked with were great kids - but a lot of them lacked positive influences in their lives. By the time they enrolled in JMG, some had all but stopped caring about school and even given up on the idea of graduating. It's not that they didn't have potential. They all do. Most of them were just looking for an adult to talk with; someone who cared enough to listen, and, to give them the chance to succeed. And, that's where I came in. If a student had fallen between the cracks, it was my job to give him a hand. If a student felt alone or out of place, it was my job to give her something to belong to. If a student didn't believe in himself, it was my job to show him what he was missing out on.
Randy with JMG college student, Shallon Nadeau
I became very proud of how hard these young people worked to overcome whatever challenges they faced. Year after year I watched students who never thought they would graduate walk across the stage and pick up their diplomas. Yet....I also felt as though I was letting them down. More of my graduates were heading to college- which was terrific, but, I knew the college completion rate for these students was very low. These students were leaving a highly-supportive environment in high school and now they were expected to figure things out on their own at college. 
So, when JMG started our new College Success Program, which puts Specialists on college campuses across the state, I immediately submitted my application. I was excited to help bridge that gap between high school and college. I was excited to make sure our students weren't just enrolling in college, but that they have the support they need to stay in school and earn a degree.

I just finished my second year as the College Success Specialist at the University of Southern Maine. I admit I miss the daily interactions I had at t he high school level, but I would never change my new position with JMG. My students all have my personal contact information and know that I am available 24-7. They count on me. Having the kind of job where I might have to drop everything I am doing, at any moment, to help a student with an immediate need, is a great feeling. It might only take 5-10 minutes of my time depending on the student's need, but that 5-10 minutes can be the difference between success and failure for that student. 
Shortly before the school year ended, JMG unleashed 200 8th graders on Portland's Old Port for our annual Urban Adventure. This unique overnight event is hosted by Unum and connects students with area businesses to help these youth develop important life and career skills. We want to thank Unum and the following organizations for opening their doors and supporting Maine's future employees, entrepreneurs and business leaders!