Judge Jimmie Edwards

Judge Jimmie Edwards has been ruling with a heavy heart and not simply a heavy hand for years. This is especially true in terms of how he handles juveniles who walk into his court room. Edwards has provided an alternative to incarceration by giving juveniles a second chance through education. He opened up Innovative Concept Academy in 2009 sentencing juveniles to school and not prison. Judge Edwards was convinced that troubled youth just needed structure and someone to care about them.

This morning (Wed., Dec. 21), The Today Show featured Innovative Concept Academy as part of their three day series called "Getting to the Heart of Christmas."

The Today Show Anchor, Amy Robach who is a native of St. Peters interviewed Edwards and presented the school with a $100,000 dollar Christmas give-away from Wal-Mart.

Innovative Concept Academy is the country's first school run by the court system and Judge Edward's idea is working. Despite the fact that there are people who think juveniles are just menaces to society without a future, Judge Edwards is proving them wrong.

"Most youth just need structure and someone to care about them," he said. "If you give young people a sense of worth and value than they will have the motivation to succeed because they feel like they belong in society."

Since opening- eighteen students have earned their high school diploma or G.E.D and two have gone to college. Disadvantaged youth want to be successful as much as any other children," he explained.

Judge Edwards was named a "Hero of the Year" by People Magazine. Edwards received the award for his outstanding work and creation of Innovative Concept Academy.

The school enrolls up to 375 students and also provides resources such as medical and psychological care to juveniles between the ages of 10 and 18.

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