On Thursday, Cape Girardeau got a visit from the Governor’s boss - First Lady Teresa Parson.
A guest in the Cape Chamber Women’s Network speaker series, Parson joined local women to discuss Jobs for Graduates-Missouri (JAG-Missouri), an organization aimed at keeping students from dropping out of high school.
“Like her husband, Teresa has a strong commitment to education,” Cape Chamber Vice President Kim Voelker said.
Co-chairing along with her husband, Gov. Mike Parson, Parson said the organization’s in-school program counts as an elective towards students’ graduation.
“The program lines up very nicely, of course, with Missouri’s workforce development initiative that the governor has taken on in his office,” said Parson, adding that the graduation rate for JAG has remained above 97% in our state since it got its start in 1981.
She says there will soon be 83 programs in 59 schools established with the program, a number which has nearly doubled in the past year alone. Southeast Missouri schools will also be entering the organization, one of which is Scott City, who is adding their middle school and high school.
Attendee Jackie Majoris of First State Financial Management, who also serves on the Community Counseling Center Governing Board, said she was happy to see efforts being done to improve education, and hoped they would come to be a benefit for Cape Girardeau schools.
Among her accomplishments, Parson has served on the board of the 30th Circuit Juvenile Detention Center and the A+ Program, and has worked with Second Lady Claudia Kehoe to reinstate the Missouri Mentorship Initiative, which has allowed 300 state employees to mentor students.
“A couple of months ago, I attended SEMO graduation with my husband. And as I looked out over the crowd that day, I realized that these students had been prepared by the university to enter the workforce with a cutting edge education in tomorrow’s changing technological demands,” she said.
She said even before she became Missouri’s First Lady, she believed people could “meet their potential” through some sort of higher education.
“The future of our state rests on the shoulders of all young people,” she said. “Therefore, we must take the initiative to equip as many of the students as we can with the skills and the tools that they need to be strong citizens of the next generation,”
Aside from education, Parson discussed her intentions in helping to make the Governor’s Mansion more accessible to the public, and that she has started calling it the “People’s House.” A part of that openness, she said, was how she and her husband held events there, including luncheons with the USS Missouri crew, Trick-or-Treat events during Halloween, fall festivals, and meals with past governors.
“All of these give more Missourians the opportunity to experience the same sense of wonder that I did when I first walked through the People’s House,” Parson said.
She concluded her visit by telling attendees that, as First Lady, she values the opportunities they have as women in leadership throughout the Cape Girardeau area, but on a statewide level.