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2nd grade explored the three states of matter and learned how the molecules in each state are different. To give the students a visual, students used balloons to represent the molecules. They also learned the Scientific Method by experimenting with the chemical changes in matter.

4th Grade Socratic Seminars

September 30, 2022

Students in 4th grade have been participating in Socratic Seminars. Pilots and Co-pilots work together to answer questions with text evidence to prepare for a class discussion. Pilots and Co-pilots are collaborating to prepare for the next part of the discussion. Socratic Seminars allow students to use accountable talk and have higher-level conversations.

Professional Development Day

September 23, 2022

Teachers at West DeFuniak Elementary enjoyed an afternoon of Professional Development on Friday, September 23. Instructional staff focused on AVID school improvement initiatives and student engagement strategies!

WDE will continue to implement the House System this school year. Students, teachers, and staff members have been sorted into the houses of courage, humanity, justice, temperance, transcendence, and wisdom. Throughout the school year, houses compete against each other by accumulating house points. Points can be earned for things such as earning A.R shirts, returning school forms, random acts of kindness, and excellent classroom behavior! Houses will have meetings and celebrations throughout the year to build excitement, encourage communication, and foster comradery among students and their peers. On Friday, September 16th students had their first house meeting of the school year. They were able to chat with their peers, learn ways they could earn house points, and take home some house spirit bracelets and binder stickers! We look forward to a fun-filled year of working together!

Walton County School District Recognized Nationally

Cognia Accreditation Awards for Excellence in Education

Cognia, the global school improvement organization that helps grow learners, teachers, and leaders, has announced its list of Schools of Distinction among Cognia accredited schools and districts. The Schools of Distinction earn this recognition based on the results of Cognia’s rigorous Accreditation Engagement Review process. The 2022 Schools of Distinction are listed on the Cognia website.

During the 2021-2022 school year, Cognia conducted approximately 1,500 school engagement reviews for accreditation. This year, 96 schools and 38 systems in 34 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and nine countries are recognized. The number of institutions reviewed and those that earn this designation vary from year to year. Winners carry the designation for one year.

Five school districts in Florida were among 38 systems that received recognition.  Walton, Okaloosa, Collier, Pasco, and Volusia County School Districts were all among those named.  Upon hearing the news, Superintendent A. Russell Hughes was again honored and humbled to receive yet another award, recognition, or designation that affirms our hard work and dedication in education for our students and families.  “We experienced the Cognia Accreditation process last year, and the organization shared that we were a top tier visit.  We know we are ranked third in the state of Florida with academics, but to know that we are in the top 38 of systems in the world according to this national accreditation organization – that is truly EPIC!”  Superintendent Hughes continued by thanking all stakeholders who were involved during the Cognia visit – students, parents, staff, teachers, administrators, and school board. 

“Congratulations to the 2022 Schools and Systems of Distinction for demonstrating excellence in education in meeting the Cognia Performance Standards,” said Cognia President and CEO Dr. Mark A. Elgart. “Based on the results of their 2021–2022 accreditation reviews, each of these schools and systems demonstrated evidence of growth in learning, a healthy culture for learning, engaging and high-quality instructional environments, and effective leadership for learning.”

Cognia is a global, nonprofit improvement organization dedicated to helping institutions and other education providers grow learners, teachers, and leaders. Cognia offers accreditation and certification, assessment, and professional services within a framework of continuous improvement. Serving 36,000 public and private institutions from early learning through high school in more than 90 countries, Cognia brings a global perspective to advancing teaching and learning. Find out more at

Congratulations again to all stakeholders in the Walton County School District for being a part of the success we are experiencing; you are EPIC, and EPIC remains the way!

God bless you all!!!

A. Russell Hughes

Superintendent of Schools


Summer Reading Challenge Reward

September 23, 2022

Students who completed the summer reading challenge were rewarded to celebrate their effort! Several fun activity stations were set up in the cafeteria for students to rotate through. Students were able to make slime, complete a STEM activity, make a dirt cake dessert, and create a craft!

New Teachers at WDE

August 12, 2022

Principal Darlene Paul welcomed new teachers to WDE with some back to school goodies! This EPIC group is excited to “Get On and Go On” as they begin their journey working in the Walton County School District!

Mrs. Allen has been employed by the Walton County School District since 2009. She earned her bachelor's degree in Elementary Education from Florida State University, a master's degree in Counseling and Psychology from Troy Univeristy , and a master's degree in Educational Leadership from American College of Education. Over the last 13 years, Mrs. Allen has taught third, fourth, and fifth grade at West DeFuniak Elementary. She has also served as the Title 1 Contact, School Improvement Chair, Kiwana's K-Kid's Advisor, School Advisory Council Chair, and in many other roles. 

Mrs. Allen is known for her enthusiam and positive attitude. She is always doing what she can do to assist students, faculty, parents, and community members. Mrs. Allen is innovative and always looking for new ways to support WDE! She is excited to continue her journey in this new role!