Leofric Thomas, Jr., serves as the Data & Policy Manager for JPEF. He was born in Richmond, Va., but his family moved to Jacksonville when he was two, making Jacksonville his true hometown. A graduate of Samuel W. Wolfson High School, Leofric attended Bethune-Cookman University where the motto “Enter to Learn, Depart to Serve,” posted over every door at the institution, sparked his attitude to serve his community.
Under his grassroots nonprofit, The Straight & Narrow Project, Leofric mentored over 5,000 students, developed numerous community action programs and sponsored scholarships for numerous students within the program.
Let's get to know more about Leofric!
Tell us a little about yourself and how you came to JPEF:
I came to JPEF in such a unique way. For over a year I was studying the organization in my research classes at UNF. Shortly after finishing my last summer class in 2023, a position opened up that fit me perfectly! And here I am today, now fully vested in the work of JPEF! While I knew about JPEF beforehand and studied on it thereafter, it means so much more to be apart of it.
What excites you about education policy and the work we’re doing at JPEF?
The ability to be a part of positive change is what excites me about education policy. To advocate for those who feel they don’t have a voice, and to plea for the needs that will ensure a better quality of life for all students and parents. That is what excites me about the work of JPEF, my passion and desires align directly with the mission and vision here.
Why does public education matter to you?
Public education matters to me because I received a public education. I am a product of my neighborhoods elementary, middle and high school and they played a huge role in the person I am today. The lifelong friends made, the teachers who deposited not only textbook information but life tokens into me, and the valuable education that was received. Public education is the foundation to education, it is up to us to ensure every public school has what it needs to deliver excellence to each and every student.
Tell us about a teacher who impacted your life:
There were three teachers. Mrs. Ninon Rhome, my literature teacher at Wolfson High School, changed my life forever. I tell her time and time again even to this day that if she didn’t speak into my life in the most transparent way, through a note in the back of my senior yearbook, life may have looked differently for me.
Cicely Tyson, my 10th grade English teacher at Wolfson High School, offered such a transparent outlook on life. What it took to set goals and stop at nothing to reach them. During my time at Wolfson she shared that her goal was to be a principal, and now, she is (I believe in record time also). She walked the halls of Wolfson reading books on how to be a great principal and carried herself as if she was already the chief of a school. And I admired her for that always, she is truly a great principal now.
Last but not least, Mrs. Malpress, my 4th grade teacher. She told me that I had the prettiest cursive handwriting she’d ever seen (I think it’s quite elegant myself). However, she taught me accountability and that there was so much more to my life, even at the young age of 8. She had no problem calling parent/teacher conferences not only to get on me, but to uplift me as well. She’d always end things saying that there was greatness in me, only if I realized it myself! These teachers, I owe a great debt to for every piece of success I have or will have in the future.