Madison High School Specialist Hazel Suluki was recently honored with the High Performer Award by the Board of Directors of Jobs for America's Graduates, Inc. (JAG), but the veteran educator says the spotlight should be on the success of the program, which teaches students vital life and job skills they will need after leaving high school.
In addition to her recent recognition, Suluki was one of many participants in the 2020 Virtual National Training Seminar. She was also a recipient of a $100 gift card from Jobs for America's Graduates - Louisiana for the "Recipe for Success" specialists' incentive award for excellence in data management, including model services, follow-up and contact hours.
The JAG program has been in existence at Madison High School since 2009, with Suluki serving as specialist for the program. She said her first class was held in the school cafeteria, since no classroom space was available. The program has since grown large enough for its on room, complete with a pantry and closet space.
Suluki, who has more than 50 years of experience in education, said the JAG program is still exciting and she loves seeing the positive influence it has on her students.
“It teaches life skills and basic skills – survival skills,” Suluki said. “We teach them everything from writing a press release to writing resumes and teach them how to take interviews, whether they are going to be the one doing the interview or whether they are being interviewed. And we try to influence them to have etiquette. We have something called ‘Dollars and Sense’ where we do long and short-term budgeting.”
Suluki said currently the program caters to ninth through eleventh grades at MHS, but also includes a JAG class at Madison Middle School for seventh and eighth graders.
“I’m loving it,” she said. “I’ve been teaching JAG since they piloted it for this parish. Before then, I’ve been teaching since 1967 in this parish. I think I’ve taught every grade except seventh and eighth. And I love it because, when I left the elementary school I was the assistant principal. I decided I would go home for a minute, but when I went home, I didn’t want to be home.”
Since taking over JAG, Suluki said she has found a new calling.
“I love it because it is the kind of program that is just so helpful. Not only does the program teach different skills, It gives students the opportunity to travel. We haven’t been anywhere (recently) because of COVID. But, usually we travel to conferences and trainings and we love it. We’ve taken them to Washington D.C. We’ve taken them to the Smithsonian. It gives them a lot of opportunity.”
And, as is evident from her recent honor from the board of directors, Suluki and her students are making the most of those opportunities.