The City of Fort Payne has been fortunate to have Mr. Jim Cunningham serve in many capacities within our City school system including being principle at two of our schools and finally the past 19 years as the City’s School Superintendent. I have always considered it an honor to have worked with him as one of his Board Members for the past 19 years. I have always said that as a member of the City Board of Education, the best decision ever made was the hiring of Mr. Cunningham as our City Superintendent.

Mr. Cunningham has always put his students from Pre-K to 12th grade first in every decision that he makes. They are always his number one priority when making sound decisions and wanting them to excel in both the classroom and outside of the school. He has always been a visionary and strives to make our School System the best that it could possibly be. He is always there for the student and has now made Fort Payne Schools one of the top school systems in the State. I cannot say enough about him and his incredible work ethics to build a system that excels in all areas of athletics and now to many areas of education that compete regionally and nationally among the top school systems in the county.

Mr. Cunningham brought Fort Payne into the future by providing students with iPad, Smart Boards, and many career tech programs such as nursing, video productions, the ROTC Program, culinary, and many more programs that students could never get before. He has made sure our students had all the tools needed to succeed in areas never before available in our schools. Our men and women athletic programs are have continued to achieve recognition all during his tenure.

Mr. Cunningham has also made sure that the System had the best administrators, teachers, and support personnel to serve our students. These are people that he makes sure have the students’ best interests at heart and go above and beyond their normal work requirements to make the System on of the best School Systems in the State.

Mr. Cunningham has always been the best steward of the funds or out System. He makes every dollar go as far as it can and spent very wisely to assure the System can do so much with one of the smallest funding budgets for a system of its size.

Mr. Cunningham is a very highly regarded superintendent in our state and recently named as the president of the State Association of Superintendents. He mentors other superintendents within the state to not only make our local system the best, but to help other systems achieve the best for their students as well. Also, I have worked with Mr. Cunningham closely in Economic Development in assuring that our students have the skills and knowledge to further their education and/or find good paying jobs when they graduate. He is active in many organizations locally and state-wide.

I personally wish people could see all that he does. But you can see all the growth in both the physical facilities in our System and them many programs offered in our system. Had not Mr. Cunningham been a visionary and started our computer and electronic classrooms we would not have been prepared to have been able to transition so smoothly into our virtual classrooms during our present pandemic.

I could not have been fortunate enough to have served on a Board with someone that cares for his students as does Mr. Cunningham. I personally thank him everyday for being not only the Superintendent but also a person of such high integrity leading our school system.

Jimmy Durham, Fort Payne, AL

Send letters to the Times-Journal by writing P.O. Box 680349, Fort Payne, AL 35968. Fax 256-845-7459. Email

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