Walton County School Superintendent Russell Hughes Named Florida’s 2024 Superintendent of the Year

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Walton County School District (WCSD) Superintendent A. Russell Hughes was named the Florida 2024 Superintendent of the Year by the Florida Association of District School Superintendents (FADSS). Hughes was formally recognized on Wednesday, November 29, 2023, in Tampa during the joint meeting of FADSS and the Florida School Boards Association. Hughes is the 37th superintendent to receive this honor since the inception of the awards program in 1988.

Superintendent Russell Hughes Florida Superintendent of the Year 2024Supt. Hughes was elected in 2016 and is currently serving his second term leading this highly-ranked Florida school district, which has maintained the State Board of Education’s Academically High Performing School District designation for seven consecutive years. His experience in education spans 32 years and includes serving as a classroom teacher, dean of students at the high school level, head coach and assistant principal at the middle school level, and principal at the middle and high school levels. During his 14 years as a principal, Hughes led the two most diverse and challenging schools in Walton County to A and B grade designations, as well as state and national recognition for performance in assessments and graduation rates.

“Russell leads with compassion and conviction, driven by a work ethic grounded in servant leadership and a commitment to educational excellence,” states FADSS President and Baker County Schools Superintendent Sherrie Raulerson. “Russell is not only an exceptional superintendent with a proven track record of success; he is a true servant leader committed to educational excellence and is truly deserving of this award,” adds Raulerson.

“Those who choose to pursue the path as a public school superintendent do so not for the glory, but rather the opportunity to make a positive difference in children’s lives, and Russell Hughes exemplifies this passion and commitment each and every day,” states FADSS CEO Senator Bill Montford.

“I am deeply humbled and grateful to have been selected as Florida’s 2024 Superintendent of the Year,” says Hughes. It is a privilege to be chosen from a class of outstanding and dedicated superintendents in this state, who are fiercely committed to ensuring academic excellence and opportunities for all students. This recognition is truly an honor personally, but more so, it reflects the outstanding achievements and tireless work of everyone who makes up Walton County School District.”

A key initiative under his leadership as superintendent was the creation of a new system called “Get It Right,” which brought together administrators, counselors, data entry operators, and MIS personnel for the purpose of knowledge-building and data analysis. The program empowered key school positions, such as data entry operators, in successfully understanding graduation requirements; proper coding procedures, especially for drop out and/or transfer students; and creation of tracking reports so that no Walton County students get left behind.

Hughes will represent all Florida superintendents at the AASA’s 2024 National Education Conference February 15-17, 2024, in San Diego, CA, where Hughes will be recognized and honored for his public education service in Florida. The National Superintendent of the Year® Program pays tribute to the talent and vision of the men and women who lead our nation’s public schools.