The true impact of JMG can be best shared through our alumni stories.
Ann Ward, 2012 graduate of Winslow High School, was in JMG from grades 6-12. In this video, and the story, below, she shares the impact JMG has had on her life:
First of all, I’d like to thank JMG for asking me to share my experiences. I wouldn’t be where I am today without JMG.
I first enrolled in JMG at Vassalboro Community School during an incredibly tough time in my life. My parents fought constantly and eventually divorced. Throughout my childhood, I battled poverty, low self-esteem, and even an eating disorder that controlled my life. My mother - who is the strongest person I know - was working two jobs to make sure that my two brothers and I had everything that we needed.
My life wasn’t easy. I was teased in school by students and teachers, which eventually led to self-harm and suicidal thoughts. When I was in the 7th grade, I was encouraged to enroll in JMG. My first thought was, “Great, here’s something else that’s going to make me stick out like a sore thumb”, but that wasn’t the case at all. I walked into the JMG classroom and immediately felt comfortable – like I finally belonged somewhere.
My middle school specialist took me under his wing and changed my life forever. He helped me identify skills that I didn’t even know that I had, but he saw those skills hiding under a scared middle school girl and brought them to the surface. He not only showed me who I was, but also helped my relationship with my mom. She is, has been, and will always be my best friend.
My 8th grade year was by far the favorite year of my entire school career. We had many opportunities to learn outside of the classroom. All of the trips we went on taught us something - whether to trust others or to create a budget. We learned that it’s okay to be who you are, because you’re surrounded by others who are experiencing similar things. During my 8th grade year, I discovered who I wanted to be - a college graduate, not just a high school graduate – and I learned to make a plan toward that goal.
This support continued when I enrolled in JMG at Winslow High School. My specialist became a rare, trusted adult in my life, and helped me see my potential. She taught me the importance of making a budget, skills needed to function independently, and most important – how to want more for yourself. I eventually became a class leader, someone other students admired, respected and turned to for advice.
I graduated from the University of Maine at Augusta – one of nine college sites to host a JMG College Success Program - in May of 2017 with a Bachelor of Science in Mental Health and Human Services. I achieved this degree while working full-time and supporting myself. My goal is to continue my career and one day, become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker.
I still keep in touch with my former specialists. My middle school specialist even attended my college graduation ceremony. JMG and the specialists that I encountered showed me who I wanted to be and pushed me to get there.
Without JMG, I don’t know where I would be today.