James Jenkins

2003 Reasons to Believe Alumni Honor Roll

James Jenkins Portrait

Argentine Junior/Senior High School ??? Class of 1962

For James Jenkins, Kansas City, Kan., and specifically the Armordale area, is not only a community where he was born and raised, worked and volunteered, but also it is his passion. He proudly says he has only moved 17 feet his whole life, living today in the same house where he grew up. It is no surprise then, that when Jenkins is out in the community, he is frequently greeted with bear hugs. This response brings with it much satisfaction.

I have always loved this community and I am happy to be here,” says James. “There is a lot of satisfaction in walking down the street and meeting with kids who will come up and talk to me. I also like being able to see former students become lawyers, teachers, and productive citizens of the community.”

After graduating from Argentine Junior/Senior High School, Jenkins attended Emporia State Teachers College, where he earned a bachelor’s degree. He then returned to the Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools to teach at Central Junior High, then Rosedale Junior/Senior High School, and finally at Harmon High School, where he taught from its opening in 1973 until his retirement in 1999.

During his years of teaching, he engaged students in American history by telling them stories and making the material relevant to their lives. James’s goals as a teacher were simple. “I told my students that I wanted them to walk out the door every day with a little more knowledge than they had come in with.”

Since retiring, James has devoted more time to his community activities, volunteering, and speaking engagements. He spends much of his time working at the Kaw Valley Drainage Board and was recently elected to serve his fourth four-year term on the Drainage Board. He is chairman of the board of the Armordale Renewal Association and is involved in the Armordale American Legion Post, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the Wyandotte County Library Board. He volunteers at the Eisenhower Medical Center at Leavenworth and can be found on Friday nights calling bingo for the American Legion. In addition, James earned two bronze stars in his one-year tour in Vietnam. With his commitment to the Armordale community, calling James “Amordale’s Favorite Son,” is very fitting.

James has been married to his wife, Alice, for over 30 years. The couple has two daughters, Elizabeth and Susan, who both continue to work in the community, as their father does at the University of Kansas Medical Center and the main library of Kansas City, Kan., respectively.