He wasn’t a teacher, but ‘Mr. Kenny’ taught many lessons at AES

Published 12:30 am Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Teachers, parents and former Andalusia Elementary School students on Monday said they can’t imagine the school without “Mr. Kenny.”

Kenny Stallworth, who worked as a custodian and groundskeeper at AES, died this past weekend after a brief illness. He joined the staff of AES in January of 2001, about the time it opened, and most considered him a fixture.

“He was the big man on campus,” AES teacher Beth Weed said. “I worked with him for almost two decades and during that entire time, I saw him love each and every student and teacher.”

Weed said that Mr. Kenney remembered the name of every single student who went through the school.

“When I saw him in the halls, he would still ask me how my kids were doing,” Weed said. “He would then go on to tell me about his family.”

Weed said that Mr. Kenny took many students under his wing at the elementary school, acting as a father figure.

“So many boys definitely looked up to him,” Weed said. “If they were sent to him, they knew they were in trouble.”

Weed said she will always remember how he put God first.

“I have tremendous respect for him for living his life that way,” Weed said. “He lived life in a Godly manner and with a larger than life attitude.”

Brunson Wilson said he first got to know Mr. Kenny in the second or third grade.

“He needed some help, and he came to our class,” Wilson recalled. “Our teacher picked five boys. I guess he liked everybody who helped, because whenever he needed help on a hall where us five boys were, he always came to find us.”

Wilson, a rising seventh grader, said students helped Stallworth do things like set up tables and chairs for special events like kindergarten graduation and assemblies.

Wilson said Mr. Kenny would also make sure students behaved.

“He would just tell you to straighten up and get back to class,” he said.

But he also kept up with the lives of students and faculty members.

“He always asked us how we were doing, not just those who helped him, but everybody. He always had a smile on his face all the time.”

Wilson said even though Mr. Kenny was not an AES teacher, students learned from him.

“I learned to do the right thing, to behave in class and to help others,” Wilson said. “Because that’s what he always did was help people.”

Jamal Curry is also a former student who was inspired by Stallworth, both at school and in church.

“Growing up, I always saw him in church,” Curry said. “He was the associate pastor at Andalusia Church of God in Christ, so I would always see him worshipping God and treating other people with kindness.”

One thing that Curry said that the students will miss is Stallworth’s jokes.

“He would always have a joke to tell,” Curry said. “He kept a lot of the kids at the school in line, though. He was more than just a janitor. He would even help kids out when their parents couldn’t afford something.”

Curry said that Stallworth will be remembered by his character and personality.

“He was more than a good man, he was my brother in church,” Curry said. “The way that he lived his life and the way he walks with Christ will be how he is remembered.”

Marrianne Harper Thomason said Mr. Kenny was a fixture at the school.

“He would always come up on awards day and greet us with a smile and a hello,” Thomason said. “He would always give directions to anyone who needed it, help unload or just meet everyone with a hello. He was an all around gentleman.”

Thomason said that Stallworth was truly an ambassador for AES.

“The sense of pride he had for the school was unmatched,” Thomason said. “He would always ask about the football team and all of the students and teachers loved him.”

She said she’ll always remember his hearty smile.

“His big smile and his huge personality,” Thomason said. “He seemed to truly enjoy what he did, because every time that I saw him, he would have a huge, genuine smile.”

The board of education on Monday night opened its meeting with a moment of silence in his memory.