Educator, St. Louis Public Schools
James Sykes is a current Algebra 150 teacher at Sumner High School - the first school open to the Black community west of the Mississippi River. Prior to the pandemic, James served as a Wrestling Coach and managed an after school program focused on essay writing; more specifically, storytelling as a means to empower young voices. As an Educational Assistant for LOVEtheLOU, James helps curate summer discussions with mentors and local youth in a community garden located in St. Louis’ North Enright neighborhood. A recent 2020 John Lewis Fellow through Humanity in Action, James had the pleasure of examining themes of justice as it pertains to America’s history of racism in the deep South. Giving credence to Lewis’ famous refrain of “Good Trouble”, James spent much of his summer months fulfilling his civic duty to protest injustice and support local politicians as a canvasser for MO Political Consulting. Through the Aspen Young Leaders Fellowship, James helped provide resources to third graders at Mullanphy Elementary, providing bookbags, books, snacks, pencils, and more during the pandemic. A prior elementary student of St. Louis Public Schools, James understands the importance of literacy within this critical age group; having not learned to read until the third grade himself. James wants to use his experience in the classroom and community to advocate for greater change within our education system. After completing his Master in Education from the University of Missouri - St. Louis, he plans to pursue a law degree in hopes of securing justice for those who find it most elusive; the disenfranchised. In his spare time, James reads historical fiction, rides motorcycles, and enjoys a good run around Forest Park.