NOTE: The following article originally appeared in the June 2023 edition of The Administrator Newsletter, a monthly publication of the Arkansas Association of Education Administrators. It is being used here with permission. W.T. “Dusty” Duncan is retiring at the end of June, following an educational career of more than 40 years.
W. T. “Dusty” Duncan, Assistant Superintendent at Marion School District, says that he loved science and sports as a kid, and so has always wanted to teach and coach. He believes his career in education to be a calling. ”Much like a minister is called to his profession,” he says, ”I belong in this arena and have received much fulfillment doing this work.”
Dusty started his teaching career in 1982 at West Junior High in West Memphis, teaching Jr. High Science and coaching 7 grade basketball, which he says ”was probably the most fun job I ever had.” In 1993 he transferred to Marion High School to start the Principles of Technology Program, and also taught physics, biology and coached football and basketball. ”In Marion, I have served as a teacher/coach, building administrator, athletics director, facilities director and currently as the Assistant Superintendent for Auxiliary Services,” he states.
Dusty says his favorite thing about his job is completing a project, however it’s also the most challenging part. He says the biggest change he’s seen in the field of education over his career is that ”we are more business-like. Processes are more data driven and outcome based. It’s not OK to say ‘this is how we’ve always done it.’” He says for those considering the career: ”If you think this is what you are supposed to do, do it! If you are supposed to teach you will not find fulfillment anywhere else.” Of his own career, he says, “I am proud of my 41 years in education. And I am proud every time an adult that I do not recognize stops me and introduces me to their spouse or children as Mr./Coach Duncan, because that student knew at least one person cared about them.”
Q&A with Dusty Duncan
What is the best advice you have ever received?
1. The best advice I ever received was that I needed to receive Jesus as presented in the gospel message. 2. My dad once told me, hurry up and marry that girl before she changes her mind. 3. I heard John Wooden say “Significance can only be achieved by contributing to the success of others.” I took their advice and believe all three men were very wise.
Tell me about any awards or recognition you have received
I have a Master Certification from the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association. I have been allowed to teach for the NIAAA, the Arkansas Athletic Administrators Association and the National Federation of State High School Association. I have completed CFD and CASBO Certifications and served on both boards. I teach classes for both ASPMA and AASBO. I also served on the AAEA Board as ASPMA President and was awarded the ASPMA Blue Ribbon Award. I am a proud member of the OAKRIVET Family, having been duly selected by the students of the Marion, Herbert Carter Global Community Magnet.
What might other administrators be surprised to know about you?
Pre-Jesus – I was kicked out of school. Not suspended, booted out. It’s just by the grace of God that I was allowed to graduate.
What do you enjoy doing during your time off?
Spending time with grandkids, woodworking, blacksmithing, and anything outdoors.
What are the goals you are still working toward?
I want to be more like Jesus. I want to be a work in progress, putting forth my very best always. I want to help others succeed. And I want my grandchildren to know how important these things are.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Wherever my grandchildren are! I also want to be working (a little) in some area of service.
When people look back at your life, how do you want to be remembered?
I want to be remembered as caring about other folks. The guy they called when they needed help.
What do you see as the biggest benefit of AAEA membership?
Networking, no question! All these smart people, doing cool things and willing to share it all.