December 2, 2019

The St. James R-I School District and the James Foundation have shared a strong relationship for many years. The James Foundation has always placed an emphasis on supporting many throughout the St. James area, including the St. James R-I School District. This strong relationship is evident by the very name of our elementary school. Lucy Wortham James dedicated her life to helping others, including the elderly, minorities, civic groups, and the Trinity Episcopal Church. Her contributions to so many interest groups in the St. James area has had a lasting impact for many throughout our community and beyond. Her legacy has been sustained over the years by the strong leadership of the James Foundation. Local leaders such as Ford Hughes, Danny Marshall, Mark Benton, and now Wesley Swee have provided outstanding leadership since the inception of the foundation. Also, Ralph Hayes and Herbert West provided exceptional leadership as directors of The New York Community Trust.     

The James Memorial Library and Maramec Spring Park are two of Lucy’s most indelible contributions to the community. The library and the park have helped generations of people, both inside and outside of our community. Both have provided multiple educational opportunities for children and adults over the years. It should be noted that Betty Lu Hughes and sisters Agnes & Gracie Muller provided exceptional leadership at the James Memorial Library for many years. Most recently, I am proud of a rekindled relationship with the James Foundation through the leadership of husband-wife duo, Wes and Kendra Swee. These two individuals have made great efforts to bring a litany of learning opportunities to the children on all three of our campuses. The Swee’s have brought with them their expertise in educating our children in the areas of bee pollination, monarch butterflies, and native grasses. They have recently partnered with our teachers to develop a pollinator’s unit at the elementary and a native grass planting project with our FFA students. They also maintain and oversee many of the events/programs that have made the park such a special place over the years, such as Old Iron Works Days and Kids’ Fishing Day… along with the immense responsibility of running the hatchery.

When schools and community organizations work together to support learning, everyone benefits. The partnership with the James Foundation has served our school district well over the years. The Foundation’s activism has resulted in improved program quality, more efficient use of resources, and better alignment of goals and curricula for our district. The Foundation’s influence on the community is immeasurable. As the leader of our district, I continue to be grateful for the legacy of Lucy Wortham James and the support of the James Foundation.