Russell Hughes began his career as a teacher at Choctawhatchee High School in Ft. Walton Beach, Florida where he taught business law & management, math and keyboarding. Russell was identified by the principal as having excellent classroom management, discipline and instructional skill. Consequently he was appointed dean of students managing discipline for ninth and tenth grades until transferring to Richbourg Middle School in Crestview, Florida. Russell served as Assistant Principal and Head Football Coach at Richbourg from 1997-2000.

     Russell’s career with the Walton County School District began at Walton Middle School in August of 2000. He became principal in 2004 .  Under his leadership Walton Middle School earned their first “A” grade, which was maintained for two consecutive years.   Walton Middle School was selected as one of the top 20 schools in the state, having made the most year to year progress in student learning gains. Additionally, Walton Middle School was the first middle school in the county to make an “A” and achieve AYP in the same year.  In recognition of their academic achievement, the school was awarded funds for their performance from the state and congratulatory letters from former Governors Charlie Christ and Jeb Bush.

     In 2007, Mr. Hughes was assigned to Walton High School as Principal. For the following eight years, Walton High School excelled in academic performance.  The School has been awarded a “B” grade for six years from the state grading system, two of which were more than 100 points above an “A.”  Although, the School’s accumulated points were significant, an “A” eluded them by less than two points in critical areas.  For the past two years, (2014-2015) Walton High has been identified by U.S. News and World Report as one of America’s Best High Schools.  Also, In 2015, they were named one of two schools in the state of Florida and one of fifty in the United States as “Most Inspiring Schools.”  Russell’s individual recognition includes; Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers, Teacher of the Year Candidate every year while in classroom, Outstanding Young Americans and the completion of the first Commissioners Leadership Academy.

As a first generation college graduate, Mr. Hughes is passionate about encouraging young men and young ladies to obtain post-secondary education. Russell looks continually to uncover strategic methods that will inspire students to unlock their potential to become successful academically, behaviorally, socially and individually.  When Russell isn’t busy inspiring students he can be found inspiring those that attend the church he and his wife founded in 2000.  The church began with seven charter members and has grown to a current membership of more than 150. 

     Russell Hughes is a lifelong learner and educator. He loves his church, enjoys reading, playing golf and spending time with family and friends.  Mr. Hughes makes his home in DeFuniak Springs, Florida with his wife, Lori and daughter, Micah.