Superintendent A. Russell Hughes was the guest speaker at the DeFuniak Kiwanis April 24th meeting at McLain's Restaurant.  The Superintendent was invited to speak by retired Walton High School assistant principal and Kiwanis member, Terry Shoaf.  Superintendent Hughes shared  his commitment to lead with honesty, integrity and transparency in the journey toward excellence in Walton County schools.  He reiterated that the primary motivating force driving all decisions in Walton County School District is what is best for our students, stating "My heart will always be with children!"

Mr Hughes discussed some of the serious challenges we face in this time regarding school safety. He addressed his collaboration with the Walton County Sheriff's Office and Walton County School Board to make certain we have the additional manpower and procedures needed on our campuses to keep our students safe. 

Superintendent Hughes shared that Walton County School District currently ranks in the #1 position in the state in 9th and 10th grade Algebra 1. In overall achievement scores, Walton County ranks #6 out of 67 districts in the state of Florida.  Mr. Hughes shared, "People are wanting to come to Walton County, not only for the value and quality of life we have to offer here, but also for providing a school system that they can be confident in, that is showing itself to be highly competent."  We have 5 schools that are designated "Schools of Excellence", and 27 teachers in our school district who were identified as "High Impact" educators by the Florida Department of Education. 

The Superintendent also shared with the members of Kiwanis that we are helping provide our community with a strong workforce through the expansion of programs at Emerald Coast Technical College. ECTC has tripled in enrollment since Mr. Hughes took office, growing from 85 students to over 300, and offering programs in Electricity, Automotive, Building Construction, Administrative Office, Information Technology, Pharmacy Tech, Patient Care Tech, Practical Nursing, Cosmetology, Welding, and Air Conditioning/Heating. 

Superintendent Hughes shared his efforts to provide authentic and timely information to our parents and community through monthly video updates, our community van, social media and resources on our district website.  Mr. Hughes shared "It is important that our constituents know that Walton County School District is a visible, active and credible part of this community." 

Submitted by Keitha Bledsoe