Jennings’ new iGrad program showing positive results

A program intended to help high school students improve academically and raise graduation rates through coaching, mentoring and tutoring is experiencing success in its first year in Jennings County, school officials said.

The iGrad program launched at Jennings County High School in the fall of 2016 with 39 students. The program now has 53 students enrolled.

“We have already seen a marked increase in the GPA (grade-point average) for the students who are involved in the program. The program just started here this past fall and it has already moved beyond what we hoped it would do,” Jennings County High School Principal Tom Black said.

The school’s iGrad program was modeled on the iGrad program initiated in Bartholomew County five years ago through a partnership between the Ivy Tech Community College, Bartholomew County School Corp., the Flat Rock-Hawcreek School Corp., the Community Education Coalition, Cummins Inc. and Heritage Fund — The Community Foundation of Bartholomew County.

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“We knew the iGrad program was a great success in Bartholomew County, and when Mayor (Mike) Ochs brought the concerns of local businesses and industrial leaders to the attention his education council, the council decided to bring the iGrad program to JCHS,” Black said.

After studying the concerns of business and industrial leaders, Jennings educators, administrators and the education council expanded the iGrad program’s focus. The expanded program focuses on preparing students in grades 9-12 to enter the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and math that are considered critical for economic development in the region.

Ivy Tech received a $74,724 Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Grant in the summer of 2016 for the purpose of expanding the iGrad program to Jennings County High School, with a focus on guiding students toward STEM-related careers.

Prior to iGrad, Ivy Tech had a partnership in place at Jennings High that offered several dual credit courses to students. Ivy Tech added 12 STEM related courses to be included with the iGrad program.

“The new iGrad Program at Jennings County High School is open to all students and is already reaching many of those who may otherwise slip through the cracks,” Jennings County School Corp. Superintendent Terry Sargent said.

LeAna Matern, the hgh school’s iGrad team leader who supervises the program, said the quick growth of the program was unexpected.

“We started the program targeting at-risk students and found they quickly improved with a little extra attention and direction. Now we have several ‘B and above’ students who needed a little extra guidance with planning their future and reaching their goals,” Matern said.

Matern added that she and part-time iGrad coach Shelly Perry do everything from arranging tutors and overseeing homework assignments to arranging job interviews and visits to a variety of colleges.

For more information

Jennings County High School students can request to be admitted into the iGrad program through a school counselor, the iGrad office or the offices of the principal and vice principal. Parents, teachers and other parties can recommend a student for the program. For more information call the administration office at 812-346-5588.