Walking through the hallways of Central High School in St. Joseph and trekking down three flights of stairs is where you’ll find April’s Shine On winner.

Colonel James Beesley teaches high school students in the junior ROTC program at the school. As the retired army veteran was awarded his plaque, a class packed with students watched, waiting to congratulate one of their role models.

Beesley said guiding students fills him with an excitement.

“Working with the young people gives me energy. It’s been a long time since I woke up in the morning enthused about coming to work, and every day I wake up and come here to Central I’m enthused,” Beesley said. “I want them to try and reach for more and to be able to be the best person that they can be.”

Beesley returned to the St. Joseph area after spending 23 years near the Houston area. Although he technically is retired, Beesley said when he was asked to come back and teach the nearly 140 students involved in the Central junior ROTC program, the decision was easy.

“It seemed like a good thing to do, it’s a good match for the skills that I have,” Beesley said.

Beesley said he’s not primarily there to recruit more soldiers for the military, he’s there to impart wisdom and teach.

“What we’re giving them is a skill set that will enable them to be successful leaders in any endeavor that that they choose to go into,” he said.

Beesley said he mainly teaches about 55 freshman in basic military, leadership and financial planning courses. He added he loves being back in St. Joseph where he grew up and said he enjoys seeing family and old classmates around town. He said people need to invest in this community.

“We are a community, and I think that we cannot be isolated in that community,” Beesley said. “We have to interact with other people and we have to make this a better place.”

Congratulations to Colonel Beesley, and if you would like to nominate someone for next month’s Shine On Award, visit newspressnow.com/shineon.