ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — One local educator made his way into history books. His name is James Young, and he has been named Missouri's Teacher of the Year.
Young is a musical theatre, vocal music and guitar teacher at the Johnson-Wabash 6th Grade Center for Ferguson-Florissant schools.
A big reason a committee of peers and education partners across the state picked Young is because of the successful collaborative partnerships he has built, the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education said.
"He has worked with organizations like St. Louis Dancing Classrooms, St. Louis Classical Guitar, Strings Attached, and LIFE Arts Inc. to help bring high-quality arts education to his students and the school community," a news release from DESE states.
A board member for the local nonprofit organization Suzuki Harmony STL, Young also teaches group lessons there. In his free time, he serves as a youth leader in his local church. Young said it's important for him to be a role model and influence students beyond the walls of the classroom.
“As the nation and world are still battling with a pandemic, we need to be sure that we are supporting students with the tools necessary for them to be healthy citizens while lifting them up to become the problem solvers of the future,” said Young. “We must take the challenge before us, answering the call to help create classrooms and communities where our students can learn and grow, with a sense of love, acceptance, and belonging.”
Young has spent most of his 14-year teaching career with the Ferguson-Florissant School District, which is home for him. Young served in the United States Army before teaching, where he joined the U.S. Army Chorus during his tour in South Korea.
Young is the 53rd teacher to receive this award and the first in the Ferguson-Florissant School District. Darrion Cockrell, a physical education teacher from Crestwood Elementary School is the current Missouri Teacher of the Year.
“Missouri is fortunate to have so many passionate, dedicated educators, and James is certainly one of those shining stars in our state,” said Commissioner of Education Margie Vandeven. “James’s teaching style emphasizes the importance of developing both academic and life skills through arts education, and he strives to educate the whole student."