Return to Headlines

Serve all students: James opens up learning opportunities

Kenneth James, a social studies teacher with Open Campus Academy, makes learning accessible for all of his students.

James comes from a family with deep roots locally. His great grandmother was a teacher and principal in the county, his grandmother was the vice president of the graduating class of 1948 at FCHS, and his mom was the first Lady Tiger to receive a college basketball scholarship.

“I’m a product of Fayette County,” he said. “Coming back to teach in Fayette County was very important to me to try to help the community that shaped me.”

He taught at Fayette County High for 12 years and just finished his second year at Open Campus, along with three years with Fayette Virtual Academy. It is a different style of teaching. He doesn’t have to plan the lessons or lectures, but he has to monitor and support students that are all studying different lessons and at different points in their coursework.

“You’re the one-man show.”

Open Campus is for the non-traditional student, whether it be by choice or necessity. It offers flexibility in the amount of time spent at school, and the time requirements are less at 5 hours a day and 4 hours a week. That makes it an ideal option for students who also need to work, and the self-pacing of the courses means they can keep themselves on track.

We attract kids who need a very calm and stress-free environment where they can come and just focus on school and nothing else,” said James. “A lot of kids have stories you wouldn’t believe.”

When school doesn’t seem like an easy option, it offers an alternative.

“We’ve had a lot of students that say they would’ve dropped out if not for Open Campus,” said James. “It provides them an opportunity to get their diploma instead.”

The program caps off with a graduation that is sure to tug at the heartstrings. For many of the graduates, the day was never a certainty.

“It’s usually a packed house, and the families get really excited. It’s amazing to see,” he said. “We’ve had some very emotional graduation speeches. When they share their story and you realize what they’ve overcome, it’s really emotional. It’s unique.”

Experiences playing football at Starr’s Mill, which also took him on to play at Shorter College, shaped his life’s outlook and informs how he teaches his students. No matter whether you’re playing sports, facing schoolwork, or in an office setting, determination is key.

You’re going to go through tough times, but you can get through them if you put your head down and work.”

He also appreciates when his students are having those same battles, and he focuses on building positive relationships so they know they have someone on their team.

“They’re going to look back and think, ‘My teachers really cared about me. They really helped me when I needed help. They forgave me when I didn’t act right. They didn’t hold it against me that one day I got in trouble. They still loved on me, and they still created a positive environment where I knew that someone cared for me,’” he said. “I really think, here at Open Campus especially, that we try to do that because these kids go through so much, but they know we will help them through any situation.”


“The Honor Role,” an official podcast for Fayette County Public Schools, features employees, rotating through key stakeholders, including teachers, staff, nurses, custodians, cafeteria workers, and bus drivers. Join us as we dive in and learn about their journeys, their inspirations, and their whys.

Episodes are available on all major podcast platforms, including Spotify and Apple Podcasts, and promoted on the social media channels of Fayette County Public Schools.

Episodes will also be available here:


Posted 6/18/2024