Meet the Superintendent of Education
Jim Cunningham is a lifelong Fort Payne native. He completed his elementary schooling at Forest Avenue and Williams Avenue School. He graduated from Fort Payne High School in 1975. While in high school, he is very proud of being a member of the National Honor Society and the High School.
Football Team. Jim began his college education at Northeast State Junior College. He completed his Bachelor’s Degree in Education at Jacksonville State University in 1979. He began his teaching career in Jackson County in 1979 as a History teacher and football coach. He was employed by the Fort Payne City School Board in 1984 to teach Civics and Coach Junior High Football and Basketball. In 1990 he completed his Masters Degree in School Administration. In 1992 he completed his Education Specialist Degree in School Administration. Since that time he has held the following positions in the Fort Payne City School System: Assistant Principal at Fort Payne High School, Principal at Forest Avenue Elementary, Principal at Wills Valley Elementary, Principal at Fort Payne High, and presently Superintendent. While serving as Principal, Mr. Cunningham was honored by the citizens of DeKalb County in 1996, 1999, 2002, 2003 by being chosen to receive “The People’s Choice Award for Best Principal” awarded annually by the Fort Payne Times Journal . He was named the “Times Journal Citizen of Influence in 1999” and recognized by the Fort Payne Chamber of Commerce as “Educator of the Year” in 2009. He is a member of the Association of School Superintendents of Alabama , Alabama Education Association, Fort Payne Education Association, Fort Payne Kiwanis Club, Fort Payne Rotary Club, DeKalb County Sports Hall of Fame Board, DeKalb County Tourist Association, DeKalb County Library Board, Industrial Development Board of Fort Payne, and the Fort Payne Chamber of Commerce. He is also a member of the Fort Payne Church of Christ.
Jim is married to Bettina Cunningham. He has one daughter, Cori Cunningham, and two stepdaughters, Casey Stiefel and Jess Bewley. Cori is currently an Intensive Care Surgical Nurse at UAB Hospital and is pursuing a Nurse Practitioner Degree. Jim has several hobbies. He loves to take weekend trail rides with Bettina and their mules Nancy and Pearl. When time permits he also enjoys hunting, fishing, and occasionally a golf outing.
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