Thu, May 23

Teacher Appreciation Week: James Ledbetter’s favorite teachers

Jim Ledbetter

Jim Ledbetter

Mingus Union School Board President Jim Ledbetter believes education is all students.

“It’s really not just being invested in education,” Ledbetter said, “but being invested in the kids. It’s what makes all the difference.”

As an attorney and founding member of the Ledbetter Law Firm in Cottonwood, he spent a lot of years in the education system in Arizona. He was born in Casa Grande where he attended Casa Grande Elementary School. His family moved to Pinetop where he attended junior high and high school. After high school, he earned a bachelor’s degree in history and speech and graduated summa cum laude from Grand Canyon College.

After graduation, he went to work for the college as a development officer. Later, he went to work for Arizona State University as a development officer. He came within six credit hours of earning a master’s in public administration before entering law school at ASU.

When talking about teachers who have had an impact on his adult life, Ledbetter said three come to mind right away.

Ralph Spritzer was one of Ledbetter’s professors in law school. Spritzer was the Assistant Solicitor General for the United States, and his wife was the first female reporter for the Washington Post. Spritzer’s job was to select which cases for the government would go before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Spritzer also was the coach for the law school’s competition Moot Court team.

“He taught me that you can never give up in any circumstance,” Ledbetter said. He said Spritzer taught him that even a case that looks hopeless can be won.

Another teacher that had an impact on Ledbetter’s life was during his undergraduate college career. “I had a brilliant and difficult Hebrew Theology professor,” he said.

That professor’s name was Dr. D.C. Martin, and Ledbetter said his message to his students was, “Perfectionism is not a dirty word.

“His big thing was to teach that you should always strive for perfection,” Ledbetter said.

Perhaps one of Ledbetter’s toughest teachers was Judy Peterson, his high school English teacher. Her name in those days was Foster, and he had her all the years he was in high school.

“On the first day of class she gave us “Foster’s Fifty Fatal Errors,” Ledbetter said. “If you committed one of those errors, you’d fail the assignment.

“I didn’t like her,” he said. “But after high school, I realized what a great teacher she was.”