Three University of Mississippi alumni were admitted into the inaugural class of the UM School of Education’s Hall of Fame.
The inductees were Milton Kuykendall, superintendent of the Desoto County School District; Judith Reynolds, a 45-year educator from Clinton; and Jerome Smith, a retired Jackson-area education leader and former education adviser to Gov. Kirk Fordice. The inductees were honored Friday (May 8) at the School of Education Awards Day Banquet.
“We are proud to honor the dedication and accomplishments of these outstanding alumni,” said David Rock, dean of the School of Education. “Milton Kuykendall, Judith Reynolds and Jerome Smith have made a positive impact on not only their profession but thousands of students and community members in Mississippi.”
The inductees were selected for the honor by the UM Education Alumni Advisory Board after being nominated by their peers in January.
Kuykendall, who holds a master’s degree from UM, has served as superintendent in Desoto County for the past 12 years and previously served as principal of Horn Lake High School for 18 years. During his 45-year career, he has been honored as the state’s top administrator, principal and superintendent by multiple professional originations and was once featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated with his twin brother, Malcom, when the Kuykendall brothers became the nation’s first siblings to simultaneously lead their respective basketball teams to state championships. He plans to retire in December.
“My education at Ole Miss equipped me with knowledge but more importantly, it prepared me to go on the job and apply it,” Kuykendall said. “I’m grateful for all of the opportunities I’ve had in my career, and this wonderful university has offered me so much over the years.”
Reynolds, who received her bachelor’s degree in education from UM in 1968, was a classroom teacher and spent much of her career at Clinton High School, where her teaching accolades included being selected as the school’s Star Teacher nine times, being named Mississippi Star Teacher in 1988, and serving as the chairperson of her school’s departments of English and Foreign Languages. Reynolds has been a National Board Certified Teacher since 1999 and is a member of the Mississippi Hall of Master Teachers at Mississippi University for Women.
“This is an overwhelming honor,” Reynolds said. “There is no career more rewarding than teaching, if you love it. I have spent my entire career working with students and I wouldn’t change a single thing.”
Smith, who earned a bachelor’s degree in 1948 and a master’s in in 1952 from UM, spent more than 52 years in Mississippi dedicated to service and leadership in public education. A World War II veteran, he served in the U.S. Army Air Corps, then attended UM on the G.I. Bill and later went on to be a teacher and football coach at public schools in Louisville. He later served as a counselor and principal at multiple schools including Callaway High School, which became the first integrated public school in the state in 1966 under Smith’s leadership.
His other accomplishments in public education include serving as executive director of Mississippi Professional Educators, where he helped lawmakers appropriate funding for the State Health Plan, which gave health insurance to Mississippi teachers, and helping Gov. Fordice encourage the Mississippi Legislature to provide a $6,000-a-year pay increase for national board certified teachers.
“I’ve enjoyed my profession and I’ve enjoyed my life and I am very proud that I came to Ole Miss,” Smith said. “I would tell any student of education today to attend this university. It has a strong program and it will prepare you to succeed.”
Courtesy UM Communications