Superintendent Hughes’ experience in education spans 32 years and includes serving as a classroom teacher, Dean of Students at the high school level, Head Football Coach and Assistant Principal at the middle school level, Principal at the middle and high school level, and now as the Elected Walton County Superintendent of Schools since November 2016.
Mr. A. Russell Hughes is a Crestview High School graduate. He received his Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Education from Langston University, and earned his Master’s in Educational Leadership from the University of West Florida. Mr. Hughes is a lifelong learner and is currently pursuing his Doctoral Degree in Pastoral Leadership.
As a principal for fourteen years, Mr. Hughes led the two most diverse and challenging schools to A and B grade designations, as well as state and national recognition for performance in assessments and graduation rates. Mr. Hughes has been instrumental in expanding and bringing new educational opportunities to the Walton County School District. As an administrator, Mr. Hughes introduced Odyssey of the Mind, Embry Riddle, and AVID to the Walton County School District. As Superintendent, one of these opportunities include the Magnet Innovation Center at St. Joe in Watersound and Walton In10sity School of Excellence, two thriving and successful magnet schools created by the Superintendent for students in the Walton County School District.
Superintendent Hughes is certified as a Superintendent through the Florida Association of District School Superintendents. He serves on many committees including Florida School Music Association, Panhandle Area Education Consortium Board of Directors, the Walton County Economic Development Alliance, and the Florida Association of District School Superintendents Board of Directors. He is also on the Council of Early Grade Success, as appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives. Superintendent Hughes was the only Public School Superintendent on the Florida Governor’s Transition Team in 2018. Mr. Hughes has been recognized as one of 24 “Superintendents to Watch” in the nation by the National School Public Relations Association for his commitment to strong communication.
While Superintendent, Walton County School District has been designated by the State Board of Education as an academically high performing school district. For four (4) consecutive years – for the first time ever – the Walton County School District is an “A” District, another designation from the State Board of Education. Walton County School District is ranked #3 in the State of Florida (67 counties) in assessment performance, school grading, and graduation rate. In addition to being ranked #3, the Walton County School District has only “A” and “B” graded schools. Never before, since the Florida Department of Education began issuing school grades, has this been done in Walton County. Most recently, Superintendent Hughes had the pleasure of announcing that Walton County School District has been recognized globally as a School District of Distinction among accredited schools and districts by Cognia.
One of Mr. Hughes’ most cherished awards was presented to him by the Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center – the First Superhero Award, for serving as a champion in keeping children first and always doing what is needed to protect them. Superintendent Hughes is an author and is in the process of releasing his first book entitled “EPIC with One Opportunity”. Mr. Hughes is married to the love of his life, Lori Hughes, who is also an amazing educator. Together they have two children, Melvin and Micah, and five granddaughters.
Superintendent Hughes would only say his love for children, his family, and strong foundation of faith in God has been the motivation for doing the work he does in his current and previous educational roles the past 32+ years.
Past AASA Florida Superintendent of the Year Winners:
2022 Florida Superintendent of the Year: Rick Surrency
2022 Florida Superintendent of the Year: Kamela Patton
2021 Florida Superintendent of the Year: Sandra Himmel
About the Award:
The Superintendent of the Year program, sponsored by First Student and AASA, pays tribute to the talent and vision of the men and women who lead the nation’s public schools.
State-level winners are selected on the following criteria:
- Leadership for Learning
- Community Involvement