In 2009, after watching a string of teenagers who committed criminal activities come through his courtroom, St. Louis, MO, Juvenile Court Judge Jimmie Edwards took action. Along with MERS/Missouri Goodwill Industries and St. Louis Public Schools, he founded the Innovative Concept Academy, a school dedicated to addressing the needs of students at risk of delinquency.
The Innovative Concept Academy’s educational environment offers students who have been expelled from other schools or who have been disruptive in the classroom a last chance at the kind of education students need in order to be successful.
Providing strict discipline, counseling and programs like chess, music and creative writing, and mandatory after-school activities, the center has changed the lives of many young people, giving them the opportunity to graduate from high school and lead successful lives.
Edwards has been selected by the editors of People magazine as a finalist for the publication’s 2011 People Readers’ Choice Hero campaign based on his work with the academy. The winner of the campaign, determined by public vote, will receive $10,000 to use for his or her charitable cause.
“I am so proud of MERS/Goodwill, the St. Louis Public Schools, court employees, all the teachers, staff, volunteers, and most of all, the students who have made our Innovative Concept Academy a success,” Edwards said. “By supporting our school St. Louis is refusing to give up on troubled juveniles and, in turn, the students are proving that hope for a better life is a universal dream.”
Edwards’ story is featured in the September 22nd issue of People magazine and is available on the publication’s website for voting through October 13, 2011.