ALAMANCE COUNTY, NC -- All parents worry about whether their kids are going to graduate high school and get a good job, now there's a program in North Carolina that will help students reach their goals.
On Thursday, Governor Roy Cooper visited Williams High School in Burlington to announce a new program that he thinks will create more jobs in the Tar Heel state -- a $2 million grant to support college and career readiness programs in middle and high schools through Communities In Schools of North Carolina.
The program is called Jobs for North Carolina’s Graduates (JNCG) and it aims to help students with career planning and community work experience so they're ready for the "real world" after they graduate.
“North Carolina has to be job ready,” said Cooper. “One thing I have found is when I am talking to CEOs of companies across the globe, and make no mistake we are in global competition, the first question is do you have the workforce?"
It's a brand new program to North Carolina but it's already paying off for some students in Alamance County.
Going to class was once a challenge for Asia Vanhook, a junior at Williams High School.
“I am the type of person who, if something hard is thrown at me, I tend to like shut down and don't want to face it,” she said.
But things have changed since she started taking the new JNCG class at her school.
“It's helped me change my mindset for the better because I feel like I can be more positive and help other people will be positive,” said Vanhook.
The class is already being taught in eight North Carolina counties including Alamance.
The program targets kids who are at-risk of not graduating and gives them the extra push they need to be successful.
On Thursday, Governor Cooper visited the class and spoke to the students.
“About half of the jobs that [you] will have the opportunity to get haven't even been invented yet,” said Cooper. “That's how fast things are moving and how exciting things are! You guys can do it. I have confidence in you.”
The idea of the course is as easy as ABC -- Attendance, Behavior, and Coursework -- program leaders say that’s what students need to be career ready when they graduate.
“There is always a need for programming that allows children to build authentic relationships and get real life application,” said teacher Charles Jones.
Jones was brought in specifically to teach the class.
He says he tries to instill his students with a new level of confidence to succeed.
“The growth mindset is essential in life,” said Jones. “Being able to say hey there is no such thing as a non-fixable problem.”
In addition to the high school model, the JNCG program will support six middle schools offering the AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) model.
Students in the AVID elective receive daily instruction focused on academic strategies in writing, inquiry, collaboration, organizational skills and critical reading to develop a culture of college readiness while being supported in school and life.
Cooper says the only way North Carolina can attract more companies is by having a well-educated workforce.
“This program is going to work to make sure these kids know about the jobs that are available and make sure they are on track to get the skills they need to fill those jobs,” said Cooper. “I want to learn from this work to improve our job readiness strategy. I want to expand it to other parts of the state and get even more students ready for their careers.”
Students like Vanhook say they’re already seeing a difference inside and outside of the classroom.
She has her mind set on attending High Point University to study sports medicine after graduation.
“I'm very excited about the program. It helps me be more of a positive person,” said Vanhook. “The stuff that he has talked to us about is very helpful in the long run. I feel like I can become a better person with a knowledge that he is giving us.”
JNCG is part of the national network, "Jobs for America's Graduates" and it's had a lot of success across the country.
95% of students in the JAG program graduated high school and 90% had a full-time job placement after graduating.