Our co-founder & President has been visible & active in the Lehigh Valley for nearly 40 years. A graduate of Muhlenberg College and Lehigh University , Jim taught high school English in the late 60’s and early 70’s. It was during this time that he joined the original WAEB Good Guys and became a radio announcer and disc jockey. This made him extremely popular with his students, who often did their homework while listening to rock ‘n roll with their English teacher.
Jim often used the lyrics and excitement of that pop music culture as a foundation for much of his curriculum. Kids who were disinterested in poetry and prose found themselves reviewing, and critiquing the latest Paul Simon, John Lennon or Neil Diamond releases. Students looked forward to learning the structure and art of poetry through popular music. The thanks he got from his students and the praise from their parents gave Jim one of the most satisfying periods in his life.
Jim went on to become successful in new home sales, often trading on his popularity as a radio personality to win the confidence and heart of his customers. In 1976 he broke the world’s record for most homes sold in one year-176, an amazing feat by itself, topped only by selling the most homes in 3 years-508.
In 1986, Jim formed his own construction company and became a developer of 5 important tracts in the Lehigh Valley . Jim specialized in building homes on large home sites that people could afford. Most of his communities extend beyond the suburbs, where 3 and 4 bedroom homes set on 1 or more acres, usually served by wells, and private sewer packaging systems. His corporation, Maiden Creek Associates, built Maiden Creek Estates, Kings Gate East, Kings Gate West, Jordan Crossing and The Pines at West Penn.
Jim’s heart always remained with kids, and in 1999 he joined retired Air Products President Ed Donley to form CEO America, Lehigh Valley . Together, they contributed over $500,000, the first year, in scholarships to families too poor to send their kids to better schools. To secure more money from local businesses, Jim worked with the Pennsylvania State Legislature, specifically Senator “Chip” Brightbill, and Representative Sam Rohr to pass America’s first 90% business tax credit for school choice. Today, Pennsylvania ’s corporations, take advantage of a tax credit that allows them to contribute directly to scholarship organizations that provide education alternatives to kids stuck in poorly performing schools.
In 2004, Jim sold his construction business to enjoy his family. He is married to his beautiful wife, Judy, of nearly 40 years. They have two children Jill and Jimmy. Both were homeschooled. Jill pursued a professional career in tennis and was on the women's tour for over 2 years. Jimmy pursued a career as a nurse and is presently completing his residency at Reading Hospital.
Philosophically, Jim Saunders believes that school choice will never become a reality in Pennsylvania until “the parents we are trying to help get involved in the political system and demand a choice of schools, without cost, in their neighborhoods.” To that end, he tells every parent that wins a scholarship to attend the public school board meetings in their district and insist on tuition grants for their children, as provided by Act 85, Section 1711 of the Pennsylvania Tax Code. Act 85 is now Pennsylvania law, providing every child in the state with a tuition grant, funded by state subsidies to each school district. The statute requires a school board vote for tuition grants to be considered.