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     Russell Hughes began his career as a teacher at Choctawhatchee High School in Ft. Walton Beach, Florida where he taught business law & management, math and keyboarding. Russell was identified by the principal as having excellent classroom management, discipline and instructional skill. Consequently he was appointed dean of students managing discipline for ninth and tenth grades until transferring to Richbourg Middle School in Crestview, Florida. Russell served as Assistant Principal and Head Football Coach at Richbourg from 1997-2000.

     Russell’s career with the Walton County School District began at Walton Middle School in August of 2000. He became principal in 2004 .  Under his leadership Walton Middle School earned their first “A” grade, which was maintained for two consecutive years.   Walton Middle School was selected as one of the top 20 schools in the state, having made the most year to year progress in student learning gains. Additionally, Walton Middle School was the first middle school in the county to make an “A” and achieve AYP in the same year.  In recognition of their academic achievement, the school was awarded funds for their performance from the state and congratulatory letters from former Governors Charlie Christ and Jeb Bush.

     In 2007, Mr. Hughes was assigned to Walton High School as Principal. For the following eight years, Walton High School excelled in academic performance.  The School has been awarded a “B” grade for six years from the state grading system, two of which were more than 100 points above an “A.”  Although, the School’s accumulated points were significant, an “A” eluded them by less than two points in critical areas.  For the past two years, (2014-2015) Walton High has been identified by U.S. News and World Report as one of America’s Best High Schools.  Also, In 2015, they were named one of two schools in the state of Florida and one of fifty in the United States as “Most Inspiring Schools.”  Russell’s individual recognition includes; Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers, Teacher of the Year Candidate every year while in classroom, Outstanding Young Americans and the completion of the first Commissioners Leadership Academy.

As a first generation college graduate, Mr. Hughes is passionate about encouraging young men and young ladies to obtain post-secondary education. Russell looks continually to uncover strategic methods that will inspire students to unlock their potential to become successful academically, behaviorally, socially and individually.  When Russell isn’t busy inspiring students he can be found inspiring those that attend the church he and his wife founded in 2000.  The church began with seven charter members and has grown to a current membership of more than 150. 

     Russell Hughes is a lifelong learner and educator. He loves his church, enjoys reading, playing golf and spending time with family and friends.  Mr. Hughes makes his home in DeFuniak Springs, Florida with his wife, Lori and daughter, Micah.

The Freeport High School AVID program recently toured the campuses of the University of South Alabama and the University of West Florida. Students gained insight on admissions, campus activities, housing, academic programs, dining options, social clubs and organizations, and much more for each campus. Submitted by Patty Woodard.

Walton High School is pleased to announce our Educational Support Person of the Year, Steve Paulk, and Teacher of the Year, Christy English. 

We appreciate and congratulate these deserving members of the WHS team! Submitted by Christy English.

West DeFuniak Elementary is please to announce that Stephanie Todd-Chambers (L) is our Educational Support Person of the Year and Hope Allen (R) is our Teacher of the Year. Thank you ladies for representing WDE! Congratulations!! Submitted by Tammy Goodman/FB.

Paxton School students from pre-k to high school, and even parents, were engaged in exciting STEM activities at the Nov. 29 Science Night. The science themed night was held in conjunction with a home basketball game and students had the opportunity to participate in various science activities throughout the night's games including piloting a flight simulator with the assistance of Major Justin Elliott, a U.S. Air Force test pilot, launching straw rockets with Dr. John Fay, a scientist with the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory, and trying their hand taking photos with a thermal imaging camera with Rob Wilson, an engineer with FLIR. 

 

In addition, students operated Sphero robots, got their hands dirty with oobleck, attempted to knock cups off a cheerleader's head with an air cannon, made aerospace artwork out of Wikki Stix, and even took science selfies.

 

PHS sends a huge thank you out to the Northwest Florida chapter of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics for providing STEM professionals to teach students and donating a Sphero robot to give-away, as well as FLIR for providing a STEM professional and donating a thermal imaging camera as a prize.  Submitted by Kalli McMillan.

Freeport High School would like to recognize, Caleb Parker and Jackson Schubert. These two students are the first two to complete the Manufacturing Skills Standards Council Certified Production Technician certification. This certification may award these students 15 college credit hours in an Engineering Technology, AAS/AS Degree if they decide to further their education in this field after high school. Congratulations! Submitted by Patty Woodard.

Mrs. Jennifer Rhea, Emerald Coast Middle School ‘s Teacher of the Year for 2016-2017, attended the Florida Teacher of the Year Governor’s Summit. During the Tallahassee event this past fall, chosen Florida teachers toured the Capital and Governor’s Mansion, participated in a roundtable discussion with Governor Scott, plus attended a legislative hearing and engaged in professional learning activities.

Pictured from Left to Right: Mrs. Jennifer Rhea, First Lady Ann Scott and Governor Rick Scott.

Submitted by Angela Vance.

On Saturday, November 26th the WDE Bee Bops  performed at the DFS Hometown Christmas singing a “Cool, Cool, Christmas”. The Bee Bops brought the Christmas spirit together by singing a medley called “When the Lights All Shine”. The performance concluded with “Have a Happy, Happy, Holiday”. Submitted by Jessica Dawkins.