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Superintendent A. Russell Hughes has upheld his promise and commitment to expand the recognition of the Walton County School District Teacher and Educational Support Professional in EPIC fashion through collaboration with the Walton Education Foundation and local community and business partners.  

As part of her award package, Teacher of the Year winner Joan Kennett from South Walton High School will have the use of a brand new GLA250 Mercedes Benz for the next year, courtesy of ZT Motors of Fort Walton Beach.  

Mr. Hughes extends his thanks to those who contributed gifts and awards totaling over $10,000 for the TOY and ESP winners!  "We are blessed to have such gracious and generous community support, and we appreciate their investment in our dedication to provide high quality education for our students!" 

Submitted by Keitha Bledsoe

Submitted by Keitha Bledsoe

Between the basketball games on Thursday night, PHS senior athletes were recognized. The following seniors walked the court with their families and received a gift from their coaches and administrators. 


Varsity Basketball Players: Noah Brown, Jacob Butts, Gabe Nelson, and Bryson Turner.

Varsity Girls Basketball Players: Michaela Cain, Kenna Jordan, and Genesis Long.

Varsity Cheerleaders: Natalie Allred, Cheyenne Arne, Meredith Bodie, Savannah Burke, Autumn Jones, Victoria Lovelady, and Kayleigh Taylor.

Submitted by Kalli McMillan

Pictured: A. Russell Hughes, Superintendent; Kim Kirby, School Board Member; Gail Smith, School Board Member; Joan Kennett, Teacher of the Year; Renee Patrick, ESP of the Year; Marsha Winegarner, School Board Member; Jason Catalano, School Board Member

The Walton County School District is proud to announce the 2018 Teacher and Educational Support Professional of the Year. All honorees were recognized at a special awards ceremony at Walton High School on the evening of January 23, 2018

The Teacher of the Year award went to South Walton High School biology instructor Joan Kennett. Ms. Kennett is a passionate and committed teacher.  As a 27-year veteran teacher, she has taught in Atlanta, Georgia, southern Indiana, and is currently in her fifth-year teaching biology at South Walton High School. 

Ms. Kennett earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Kennesaw State College and received her Gifted Credentials from West Georgia College.  Ms. Kennett creates a stimulating, high quality, challenging learning environment that promotes students to excel in STEM.  Bringing her energy to the classroom, Ms. Kennett takes pride in her hands-on activities that engage, excite, and make learning fun.  To enrich and challenge students in STEM, Ms. Kennett was awarded grants from Walton Education Foundation and the National Defense Industrial Association ACCELerator Program.  Ms. Kennett implemented the Lab Coat Award given to students who diligently achieve outstanding science merit by completing and meeting the rigorous award criteria. 

As Student Government Association sponsor, Ms. Kennett motivates student leaders within the school and community, instilling the utmost regard for integrity and character.  One of the most successful and illustrious Student Government projects is the “Senior Citizen Prom”.  As a teacher leader, Ms. Kennett is actively involved as a teacher mentor and advocate for developing best classroom practices.  In the spring of 2017, Ms. Kennett’s students scored 97% and ranked fifth in the state on the biology state test. Ms. Kennett expressed what a privilege it is to represent the excellence of teachers, staff, administrators, school board members, and students in the Walton County School District.  

Ms. Kennett shared "I want to be better tomorrow than I was today.  My kids are very important to me, and I love watching them grow...see them strive to do their very best! I always encourage them to do their best, and be their best." 


Pictured: Superintendent Hughes; Joan Kennett, Teacher of the Year

The Educational Support Professional of the Year award goes to Ms. Renee Patrick.  Ms. Patrick is an ESE Paraprofessional with the Walton County School District. She has been with the district going on 13 years.  Ms. Patrick has had the pleasure of working at Bay Elementary, Paxton School, Walton Vocational School, and presently Walton High School.  She attended Northwest Florida Community College and graduated in 2003 with an A.S. degree in Early Childhood Education, all while working and raising her children as a single parent and maintaining a spot on the Dean’s list.

 Ms. Patrick finds true fulfillment in her duties as an ESE paraprofessional. She welcome the challenges of the unknown with her special needs students, all while taking whatever the situation may be as an opportunity to show them that it is going to be okay because whatever the issues may be, they will conquer it together.

Ms. Patrick’s philosophy on work, play, and life in general is staying positive even with all that is going on in our world. Do the right thing and everything will fall in its proper place of gratitude.

Pictured: Joan Kennett; Renee Patrick

Pictured: M.H. Carr, Walton Education Foundation; Joan Kennett, Teacher of the Year: Alexis Tibbetts, SWHS Principal

Maude Saunders students celebrated the 100th day of school by participating in a variety of activities related to the number 100. We added, subtracted, multiplied, divided, counted, stacked, sorted, and even ate, in a way that celebrated  the number 100.  One of our favorite activities was dressing up like we think we will look when we are 100 years old.   

Submitted by Krisy Spence

Congratulations to WHS senior Josh Homza for earning a nomination into the Air Force Academy!  Representative Matt Gaetz shared the outstanding news on January 23.  We are so proud of you, Josh!

(Pictured from left to right are Superintendent Hughes, WHS Principal Janet Currid, Representative Matt Gaetz, and Josh Homza)

Submitted by Christy English

Students tracked down 12 posters displaying quotes about Literacy as they traveled around the FES campus.  They read the posters, discussed the quote, and recorded the location of the poster.  Once all posters were located, classes turned in their list to the Media Center for a chance to win a prize!

Submitted by Nancy Currie

In November 2017, WHS junior Tyrese Stuckey entered the Appelley Publishing National Student Poetry Contest.   It was recently announced that his poem was selected for national publication in the company’s 2017 "Rising Stars Collection" book, which will be released this summer.  Overall winners for the contest will be announced April 6, 2018. Awesome job, Tyrese!

Submitted by Christy English

Once again Freeport High School has proven why it is the “Best Kept Secret in Northwest Florida.”  Governor Scott recently recognized FHS for being in the top 10% of Florida schools in mathematics and science achievement and for improvement in mathematics and English Language Arts.  It is a well-deserved honor for the Freeport students and staff!   

Submitted by Patty Woodard

Congratulations to the students and staff at SWHS for being in the top 10% of all Florida schools in science achievement and improvement in math achievement. SWHS was also in the top 10% of all high schools in Florida in math achievement, science achievement, and improvement in math. Way to go Seahawks!

Submitted by Carrie Chavers