musical theater teacher is Ferguson-Florissant teacher of the year 2021 | Local news


The Ferguson-Florissant School District has announced that James Young, a sixth-grade musical theater teacher at the Johnson-Wabash Sixth Grade Center, has been named the 2021-2022 FFSD Teacher of the Year.

Completely caught off guard during his lunch break, District Heads walked into his classroom with balloons and treats to surprise him with the prize. He also received a check to use for any professional development of his choice. Young was selected from other FFSD teachers who had been named building-level teacher of the year.

“Anyone who spends time around Mr. Young’s presence can feel his passion for music and his eagerness to pass that passion on to the young people he teaches,” said Dr. Ben Eye, deputy director of Johnson-Wabash. “Mr. Young exemplifies what a teacher is and should be. He is not afraid to educate the whole student and he ignites the fire of his student’s creativity. “

Young has taught at FFSD for almost 14 years. After three years in the US Army, Young seized the opportunity offered by the GI Bill to return to school and study music education. His grandmother, Elizabeth Hutcherson-Rucks, a retired music teacher, instilled the idea of ​​teaching at a young age. “Being the oldest of eight siblings, my parents taught me the importance of responsibility and of being an example for others to follow,” Young said.

Throughout her career, establishing collaborative partnerships has been an integral part of her teaching experience. In addition, he is also committed to creating a learning environment that is culturally relevant. “During the early years of teaching, I began to see my calling more clearly. I had the opportunity to reach students who were culturally similar to me. I felt called to help students learn to have fun. and appreciation of music in a relevant way. ” said Young. “In addition to creating a culturally appropriate learning environment, I have also strived to create a strong community of learners. “

Over the past two years working alongside Judy Brown, a drama teacher at Johnson-Wabash, Young has seen collaborative partnerships work firsthand. Together, they walked the students through a sample of the arts to highlight each student’s strengths. This collaboration included performances from more virtual showcase projects like The Lion King. “Young embodies a calm, constant and constant presence for every student who comes to our class,” says Brown. “He understands the true meaning of collaborative partnerships when we teach together, and he is constantly persevering in learning new tools and strategies to find best practices for student education. “

Young admits that in this COVID-19 era, maintaining high levels of interaction with students can be difficult. What’s the best way to build these interactions? “By calling them by name,” Young said. “The best way to facilitate a high level or complex response from all learners is to start by connecting with them as individuals. I believe that every student can learn and be successful, and it’s about letting them know that I believe it to be true. Once students are confident in their ability to try, they will grow in ways that might have seemed difficult at first. “

Young received a BA in Music Education from the University of Missouri – St. Louis. As FFSD’s Teacher of the Year, Young will now be nominated for the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Regional Teacher of the Year award, to be announced later this spring.


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