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McCluer's COAG Program Prepares Students for Careers After High School

This year, a new program was introduced to McCluer High students that prepares them for career opportunities directly out of high school, should they decide not to go to college.  The program, Career Options After Graduation (COAG), introduces students to various careers in the trades and health care industry.

“We focused on careers that start with competitive wages, opportunities to advance and benefits,” said John Combest, McCluer’s COAG coordinator. “Because of COAG, five students in the Class of 2019 have prepared themselves not for the end of high school, but for their beginnings.”

To get students interested in the program, Combest and others spoke at several class meetings introducing COAG. Students who were interested attended meetings and went on exploratory field trips, where they were introduced to various careers in the trades and health care. Partnerships were formed with Tarlton and Northwest Health Care, and students were able to visit a construction site and a hospital.

“Students had the opportunity to talk to people working in these different industries, see the work they are doing, and ask questions to better inform themselves of the options that are available to them after graduation,” said Combest.  “After the initial field trips, students were given independent opportunities to explore training facilities and meet with leaders of those career fields.”

McCluer graduating seniors Kevin Seawood and Travon Rice have chosen the laborer’s union as their next step after graduation. Ronnie Griffin, the President of Local 110, has met with both students and will be working with them to prepare for their new careers and help them to find employment.

Chris Love and Christian Nichols have chosen carpentry as their future career path. Henry Johnson, the curriculum director of the Carpenters Joint Apprenticeship Program, has talked with both students and will be helping them with future education and in finding their future companies. 

De’Marco Poole has taken a different route, as he knew as a sophomore that the traditional college route was not the best fit for him. As a result, David Payne, owner of PayneCrest Electric and PayneCrest Family Homes, and a McCluer graduate has mentored De’Marco for the last three years to prepare him for his future career at PayneCrest Electric as an electrician. 

In addition to the support students receive from career leaders, the McCluer COAG counselor will also provide assistance to help the students prepare for life after high school. The counselor will regularly check in with the graduates and see if they need support for their new careers, with financial literacy, or help transitioning into life after high school until they feel comfortable in their new roles.

 According to Combest, plans are to expand the COAG career options available to students in the upcoming years. If you have questions about the COAG program, would like to support the program, or would like to become a career partner, please contact John Combest at 314-506-9452 or at