The first college graduate from either side of his family, Dr. Jim Evans, ’92, ’99, did more than beat the odds to achieve his educational goals. Through a distinguished career spanning three decades, he has gone on to help countless other Lee Countians and Kentuckians to fulfill their dreams.
Dr. Evans, who earned a bachelor’s degree in history and anthropology from EKU and his master’s degree and Rank 1, began his career as an instructional aide for exceptional needs students in Lee County Schools. He then worked through the ranks as a bus driver, teacher, coach, assistant principal, principal, and transportation director before beginning an award-winning, 12-year tenure as superintendent that saw his rural district ranked among the Commonwealth’s best. “The experience I gained in all those positions gave me a true picture of the importance of each in the success of the district as a whole,” he said.
The personal accolades include the Kentucky School Board Association (KSBA) Kids First Advocacy Award, 2015; the Kentucky Educational Development Corporation Superintendent of the Year Award, 2016; KSBA F.L. Dupree Superintendent of the Year Award, 2017; and the Kentucky Association of School Administrators Superintendent of the Year Award, 2018.
But it was never about individual honors. Through his vision and leadership, Lee County Schools emerged as a model district for Kentucky, earning District of Distinction status. He also led the district through a successful accreditation process and eight safety assessments to ensure a safe learning environment. The district received the Baldrige Kentucky Center Performance Excellence award, Levels 1 and 2. He also established a communication committee to develop a district-wide plan for internal and external communications and a student advisory council to encourage student input and facilitate their ownership in learning. In 2013, Lee County Schools received the Appalachian Innovators Collaborative Innovation Award for involving community stakeholders in strategic planning.
Today, Dr. Evans impacts educators and learners across Kentucky through his work with the Kentucky Education Development Corporation, especially with federal grants, including four with the U.S. Department of Education and two with the U.S. Department of Justice that total $14.6 million.
He attributed his success to “hard work, passion, enthusiasm, and wanting to make a difference in every job I’ve ever had.” Dr. Evans has certainly done that.