A music teacher who says he was called to be an educator is Missouri’s 2022 Teacher of the Year.

James Young, a Musical Theatre, Vocal Music, and Guitar teacher at the Johnson-Wabash 6th Grade Center in the Ferguson-Florissant School District has been selected by a committee as the 53rd Missouri Teacher of the Year. He is the first award recipient from his district and is a 1995 Ferguson-Florissant School District graduate.

James Young, Photo courtesy of Ferguson-Florissant School District

Young was chosen among six other finalists for the top award.

The reality is still sinking in for him.

“It’s kind of unreal,” he tells Missourinet. “It’s something I never imagined. I, like a lot of teachers, I do my best and I work hard. There are so many teachers who do their best and work hard. There are amazing teachers, administrators, professionals doing it every day. I’m really excited and honored to represent the profession. There are a lot of good things happening. I feel blessed and I give praise and honor to God.”

Young says he had no intentions of teaching back in the day. He was into music. His main objective was to be in a band, make records, and go on tour.

“But I really feel like there was a bigger plan for my life,” says Young.

Young’s grandmother was the one who noticed he had what it takes to be a great educator.

“She told me years ago, before I knew what I was going to do, she said, ‘You have the patience to be a teacher.’”

And the rest is history.

Fifteen years into his teaching career, Young is wowing Missouri’s education community with his musical and teaching talents. He has built partnerships to collaborate with organizations and bring high quality arts education to his students and the school community.

He has worked with organizations like St. Louis Dancing Classrooms, St. Louis Classical Guitar, Strings Attached, and LIFE Arts Inc. Young teaches group lessons at and is a board member for non-profit organization Suzuki Harmony STL, and he is a youth leader in his church.

“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,” says 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.”

Over the course of the year, he wants to tell the world how great things can come out of Ferguson.

“Great things can come out of our surrounding communities. Unfortunately, a lot of times, I’m just going to be honest, there’s a stigma. There’s a stigma around public education a lot of times. It’s not all perfect all the time like most things, but there are great teachers here. There are great students doing amazing things. There are great organizations willing to support and help students and build community,” he says.

Young will represent Missouri in the National Teacher of the Year program.

To hear the interview with James Young, Missouri’s 2022 Teacher of the Year, click below.

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