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Golden School Awards

September 2, 2020

Golden School Awards


The Golden and Silver School Awards are presented annually by the Florida Department of Education to recognize exemplary schools which promote parent and community engagement in education.  Creating environments that are welcoming to parents and the community is a critical factor that affects the success of individual students and the school environment as a whole. 

To receive the award schools must meet specific criteria to include:

  • 80% of the school’s staff is trained in school volunteerism
  • School has a designated volunteer coordinator
  • Total number of volunteer service hours equals or exceeds the number of students enrolled

This year five District schools are receiving this distinction:

Freeport Elementary School                          Kristin Lewis, Principal                    Gay Pannell, Volunteer Coordinator

Maude Saunders Elementary School          Cindy Neale, Principal                     Krisy Spence, Volunteer Coordinator

West DeFuniak Elementary School              Darlene Paul, Principal                   Hope Allen, Volunteer Coordinator

South Walton High School                              Alexis Tibbets, Principal                 Ann Harris, Volunteer Coordinator

Walton High School                                           Janet Currid, Principal                     Brianna Leavins, Volunteer Coordinator

Superintendents to Watch

Congratulations to our very own Superintendent A. Russell Hughes on being recognized by the National School Public Relations Association as a 2020 “Superintendents to Watch” Honoree! 

Earlier today, 24 superintendents from across the nation were recognized for this honor.  Joining superintendents from California to New Jersey, Mr. Hughes represents Florida.

To be selected for this honor, superintendents must “demonstrate dynamic, fast-paced leadership with strong communication at its core.”  

Mr. Hughes is grateful for another opportunity to represent the greatest school district, not just in the state, but in the nation.

Thank you, Superintendent Hughes, for continuing to embody the EPIC mentality. We are so proud to have you as our leader.  Congratulations!

Re-opening Update for Parents 8/28/20


We are excited to wrap up our second week of school!  The first ten days have been smooth and successful, and we want to thank everyone for being so supportive. 

Ft. Lauderdale based aviation attorney Maria Sklar of Sklar Law spoke to Paxton High School’s Aerospace Career Academy students today about her exciting career. “Aviation law will challenge and reward you and give you the freedom to help people in your community while doing something you love,” Sklar shared. 

ECTC Nursing Graduates

August 28, 2020

Previous nursing graduates from ECTC that are now working on the front lines during the Covid-19 Pandemic. This photo encompasses the mission of our nursing program to provide quality, competent, and caring nurses that put other's needs before their own on a daily basis during these unprecedented times.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020 Walton County School Board received the Cenergistic Chairman’s Sustainability Award to honor

sustaining a 32-percent reduction in utility spending over the last 10 years.  


“Cenergistic got us started on an energy conservation program, and the savings we made through this conservation have

been redirected to boost student achievement” said Russell Hughes, WCSD Superintendent “We plan to further the savings

of this program over the years to come”


Pictured from left to right: Steve Jones- Cenergistic Regional Vice President, Jill Smith- Director of Facilities, Michelle Doggett- Facilities Planner,

Jeff Infinger Coordinator of Facilities and Operations, Jason Catalano- Chairperson WCSB, Russell Hughes- Superintendent WCSD

Freeport Middle School 6th, 7th, and 8th grade art students completed their first art project.  The project was about “our affective characteristics” and “all about me” drawn on our paper hands.  Students created their own display in their own learning community.  We are going to have a great year!!

Virtual Team Time in Seventh Grade Math at WMS 

It has been said that change is the only constant in life.  In recent months, public schools have been living out the reality of that statement, continually rising and adapting to the challenges of teaching and learning in the midst of Covid.  Teachers have always been known for their creativity, flexibility, and adaptability, and never before have these three key traits been more evident in classrooms than with the start of this unique school year. 

                At Walton Middle School, seventh grade math teacher Mrs. Makala Ellenburg, along with her partner Diana Gillis, spent time carefully planning, then executing a plan for both face-to-face and innovative learning students to collaborate with each other.  These days, students can’t huddle together to work in traditional small groups like they have in years past.  Creatively, the math teachers found a way for students in the classroom and students at home to share their thought processes through a virtual huddle.  Whether they were six feet or sixteen miles apart, all students experienced a sense of community in math class to close out the week. 

                Through Microsoft Teams, Mrs. Ellenburg assigned students to groups via channels.  Each channel essentially functioned as a small group.  First, Mrs. Ellenburg gave students instructions to introduce themselves to their channel members.  She also clearly outlined her expectations, emphasizing that only math conversations were acceptable within the channel.  She then walked students through how they would then participate in “Team Time” with their group.  On the ClearTouch board, Mrs. Ellenburg posted a math problem, giving students time to work it out on their own, whether they were in their classroom desk or at their kitchen table.  While giving instructions, the teacher ensured that both her in-house and at-home students understood her expectations.  After working each problem out independently, students posted their answers in their group’s chat.  Mrs. Ellenburg even had a plan for students whose families have not had the opportunity to pickup their laptops yet; those kids held their white board answers up for a group member in the class to answer on their behalf in the Teams chat.  Due to Mrs. Ellenburg’s thoughtful lesson design, all students were able to actively participate in the groupwork.  Each group then discussed any differences in their answers, landing on a solid final answer that they posted in the chat. 

                During whole class discussion, Mrs. Ellenburg spent time praising groups for productive group talk.  She pointed out instances where students questioned each other’s thinking, pushed each other to elaborate, and clarified their own misunderstandings.  Even though the small groups were meeting virtually, their conversations about math were often rich and thought-provoking.  Mrs. Ellenburg intentionally spent a great deal of time establishing the norms for Team Time so such positive collaboration can continue throughout the year.  As students and the teacher continued to work and share their learning, they even discovered together that they had the capability to take pictures of their math work, then upload it into the chat within the channel so their thought processes could be made even more visible to their peers. 

                No doubt, teaching and learning have rapidly changed, and the learning curve has been steep for everyone.  However, Mrs. Ellenburg and her students are proving that challenges are actually opportunities to learn and grow together—coming out more capable and better equipped on the other side. 

Re-opening Update for Parents 8/21/20


We are excited to wrap up our first week of school!  We want to thank everyone for being so supportive of not just the start to the 2020-2021 school year, but to all the changes that have taken place due to COVID-19.  Everyone has been so gracious and positive this week.  Students are working hard, faculty and staff have been innovative and flexible, and our parents have been awesome partners on this new journey.  We are glad to be back!


Because we want to continue the success of our first week, we would like all parents of our brick and mortar students to continue to reiterate the importance of social distancing and the wearing of masks, when social distancing is not feasible, with their children.  We found that as the week progressed, many students started to feel comfortable and more at ease in their surroundings and that’s encouraging, but we do want to continue to remind students that social distancing and masks are best practice until the pandemic is over.  Students - keep up the good work!


Thanks to all of our distance learning and virtual students and families as well.  Thank you for being a great team player this week as we have collaborated with technology and other new procedures.  Please remember we have a page devoted to our Innovative Learning Digital Academy, as well as Walton Virtual School, on our website. 


As the weeks continue, please know we will continue to make the right adjustments and best decisions for our students.  We want to continue to build upon our success, and we want our re-opening to be a positive experience for our community! 

1st Day at MSE

August 20, 2020

Maude Saunders staff and students are back and ready to learn!  Some students are here in person and some are attending our Innovative Learning Digital Academy. Either way, we are one school, one team, with one mission… Excellence!