A few months ago, the nation recognized a hero in our midst. This hero didn’t earn his accolades in combat on foreign soil. He didn’t pull victims to safety from a burning building. He saved….and continues to save …. Our community’s youngest citizens by doing what heroes do best: Giving success a second chance.
For our speaker this morning Judge Jimmie Edwards, it all started because he did not do what he was hired to do. Magistrates in the criminal court system are hired to preside over court trials, instruct juries and pronounce sentences. But after seeing hundreds of teens who had been kicked out of school pass through his court room back to life on the streets or in sometimes troubled homes, Judge Edwards decided it was time not to judge. It was time to help. That help came in the form of a true partnership between the St. Louis Juvenile Court, the St. Louis Public Schools, Mers Goodwill, and the hundreds of students his honor has and is helping.
Judge Edward’s Innovative Concept Academy was born of necessity. Students on the precipice of personal destruction didn’t have a way off the cliff until Judge Edwards threw them a lifeline. The judge saw a need and worked to fill it. Now the Innovative Concept Academy is working to get at-risk teens off the streets, keep young men and women out of court and give our next generation hope for a better future.
In case you haven’t heard, we’re not the only ones proud of what Judge Edwards is doing for our youth and our community. A couple of months ago the editors of a little publication…maybe you’ve heard of it…People Magazine selected this leader as one of their national heroes of the year. He was also recently recognized by the Missouri State Legislature for his work with the Academy. And next month the United States Congress will honor this extraordinary man.
Today it is our turn to put the spotlight on Judge Jimmie Edwards by learning from him. As an educator, that is the most important job we take seriously. Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming to Webster University and to the Walker Speaker Series founder of the Innovative Concept Academy, People Magazine’s Hero of the Year and if I may add, my friend, Judge Jimmie Edwards.