The Lifetime Achievement Award for 2022 is given posthumously to the late Kevin Dukes.
Kevin Dukes always knew he wanted to be in education, as the child of educators, he once said seeing his parents and their passion for teaching was contagious. Kevin’s parents, Janice and John Dukes, worked in Jackson County and his grandmother served on the school board of Birmingham City Schools, leading him on his education path.
A 1990 graduate of Section High School, Kevin’s college career consisted of Northeast Alabama Community College, Athens State University and Jacksonville State University.
His teaching career began at Macedonia Elementary School, where he taught sixth-grade language arts and elementary physical education for 12 years. He once said the best part of being in the classroom was watching students grow and seeing their excitement when they realized they could accomplish something when at the beginning of the task they had been unsure of themselves.
“That was a lightbulb moment,” he once said. Kevin went on to say, “Every educator experiences it at some time. Those are the days you know what you’re doing is worthwhile.”
Kevin spent his entire adult life in education, a total of 26 years, spending one year at North Sand Mountain High School before taking his first administration position as assistant principal at North Jackson High School. From there, he moved on to serve as principal of Skyline High School for six years. Kevin was elected superintendent in 2016 and re-elected in 2020.
He did an excellent job of running the school system. He always wanted what was best for the students. Kevin was loved and will be missed by many. His passion and leadership will never be forgotten.
Throughout Kevin’s tenure as an educator, principal and superintendent, he impacted many lives. In an interview last fall, Kevin felt a lot had been accomplished since 2016 in the school system, including acquiring mental health workers as well as resource officers. He said the county schools’ budget had also gone from red to black during his tenure.
His proudest achievement was the Jackson County Innovation Center and Career Academy, a $31 million project currently under construction in Hollywood. Kevin was quoted as saying, “I wanted to do something that would benefit all of the students in Jackson County. We can honestly have an impact on every student in Jackson County. That’s a lightbulb moment because it’s exciting knowing how impactful it’s going to be.”
His legacy will live on through it for many years to come.
Kevin leaves behind his wife, Shannon and three children, Laurel Grace and twins, Sam and Will. Outside of his family, he once said education was all he knew and all he loved.