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The Paxton School band showed off their excitement for the new school year by performing at the EPIC training day/kick off event at FHS.  Submitted by Kalli McMillan.

PHS Band

The Walton County School District held an EPIC event on August 3rd at Freeport High School as teachers came back to the first day of school year 2017-2018!  Paxton High School band set the mood outside as the crowd was entering the building with pep tunes, and the new district Van was on display showing all the amazing features that will be invaluable tools for reaching out in the community.  Inside, the excitement in the air was electric as Superintendent A. Russell Hughes welcomed new and returning teachers, administrators and district support staff to the event that exemplifies his vision for the Future of the Walton County School District!

Superintendent Hughes first thanked our many community partners for their assistance and participation in the event, and during a highly motivational speech he explained to the enthusiastic crowd of educators and administrators how he came to the new motto for the district.  "Teaching is the most highly complex profession in the world, but you chose to do've been chosen to be a part of this EPIC Team, and we are wanting to make sure that everyone who comes to Walton County understands that The Walton County Way is EPIC:  Excellence, Professionalism, Innovation and Collaboration!" 

Mr. Hughes shared the Mission Statement of the Walton County School District: "Preparing the Whole Child for a Lifetime of Success" and encouraged the audience to remember that "we are teaching our students to be lifelong learners" and challenged them to see themselves "as a conduit through which students can realize their full potential and pursue their dreams, goals and ambitions." 

As part of the kick-off event, Superintendent Hughes invited guest speaker Michael Bonner, recently featured on the Ellen Degeneres Show, to share his story in hopes that he might inspire teachers to be creative, innovative, and engaging as they go above and beyond to help students succeed.  Mr. Bonner teaches 2nd grade at North Carolina's South Greenville Elementary, where the majority of students have difficult family dynamics and many are homeless. The school is 100% FRL (free and reduced lunch), and is located in an impoverished neighborhood in Eastern North Carolina. 

"With only four years in K-12 education, Mr. Bonner is consistently seen as a visionary leader who strives to create a positive mindset among all of his students.  He understands that his students come to class each day with diverse backgrounds, strengths, needs, and challenges, and seeks to identify strategies to ensure the growth of their social, emotional, academic, and psychological needs. Because of his approach to education, students leave feeling a little more hopeful, challenged, inspired, and forever a part of Bonnerville!"  (from his website:

Over 70 presenters in content and choice sessions provided informative and inspiring professional development sessions, a delicious lunch was provided by a host of our community partners, and the day ended with a rousing closing pep rally that included inspiring comments from the Walton County Teacher of the Year, Kathleen Redfern.  

Superintendent Hughes sends special thanks to the many people who came together as an EPIC team to turn his concept for the event into reality.  

submitted by Keitha Bledsoe

Walton County Fine Arts Coordinator, Keitha Bledsoe, was recently inducted into the Florida Vocal Association Hall of Fame. The FVA Hall of Fame award recognizes current and former classroom teachers who have exemplified excellence in the teaching of music and are renowned in the area of vocal and choral music education. They must also have made noteworthy contributions through dedication and service to vocal music education, with special emphasis on outstanding service to FVA.

A special awards ceremony was held in Altamonte Springs Florida during the FVA Summer Conference, at which time recognition was made to the 2017 Middle and High School Choirs of Distinction, and the Hall of Fame Inductees. Special musical selections chosen by the recipients of the Hall of Fame awards were performed by the Florida Vocal Association Awards Chorale. Joining Mrs. Bledsoe in the Hall of Fame this year were Dale Choate, Choral Music Specialist for Duval County, Florida; Daniel Compher, retired choral director from Tampa, Florida; Beth Cummings, Director of Fine Arts for Polk County; and Deborah Mar, choral director at Southwood Middle School, Palmetto Bay, Florida

In addition to her responsibilities with the Walton County School District, Mrs. Bledsoe is also the accompanist for the Florida Chautauqua Theatre, and staff accompanist for the First Presbyterian Church of DeFuniak Springs, Fl.

Walton County School District applauds Mrs. Keitha Bledsoe for her dedication and accomplishments!

Submitted by Donna Honish


This summer has been a blast at Bay!! We have been exploring and creating all things space. Through a variety of  interactive media, reading, team building projects, special guest speakers, field trips and even space themed Yoga,  we were able to continue the excitement of learning. It is my goal every summer for the kids to return to school with more knowledge than they left with.

Our big accomplishment this summer was the construction of the 20x25 planetarium complete with lights and planets. This idea came from my own 2nd grade teacher 28 years ago. My goal is to leave that kind of lasting memory for these kids here at Bay.  Submitted by Misty Williams/Charlie Morse.

Bay Spice

Bay Spice

Bay Spice

Bay Spice

Bay Spice

Nearly 500 Principals, assistant principals, and administrators participated in a three-day Panhandle Area Educational Consortium (PAEC) Summer Leadership Conference at Linkside Conference Center at Sandestin, hosted by the Florida Department of Education. Speakers highlighted the peaks and valleys of the state's education system from student performance to economic disadvantages and where improvements can be made across the board.

School leaders met together to learn from each other, share their challenges and successes, consolidate ideas, and brainstorm solutions. 

Among the presenters was Dr. Randy Stafford, along with Christine McCall, from the Walton County School District who presented a session on the results of a pilot study of Sound Training, a reading intervention program designed to improve literacy skills and maximize learning potential.



WCSD brought together their foremen, skilled workers, plans and tools to create and build the 2017-2018 school improvement plans on Manufacturing Day - 2017 at the Carlene H. Anderson Training Center.  Administrators, teachers, and parents from each school in the district met to develop an overall plan to move Walton County School District to the number 1 position in the state by aligning each of the individual school improvement plans to our District Strategic Plan.  Superintendent Russell Hughes gave an inspiring opening presentation where he revealed his vision of "The Walton County Way - Excellence, Professionalism, Innovation and Collaboration = E.P.I.C!" 

Schools met to review their plans for 2016-2017, discuss barriers, and turn them into opportunities to increase student success in 2017-2018. Administrators from the district office in the areas of Data, Technology and Curriculum and Instruction, as well as a representative from The New Teacher Project (TNTP) were on hand to lend support and provide resources.  Ideas were shared across the room as they collaborated to develop innovative ideas and implementation.  The air of excitement in the room was contagious, and the results for the students of Walton County in this coming year are going to be EPIC!!!  

submitted by Keitha Bledsoe