Pictured: A. Russell Hughes, Superintendent; Kim Kirby, School Board Member; Gail Smith, School Board Member; Joan Kennett, Teacher of the Year; Renee Patrick, ESP of the Year; Marsha Winegarner, School Board Member; Jason Catalano, School Board Member

The Walton County School District is proud to announce the 2018 Teacher and Educational Support Professional of the Year. All honorees were recognized at a special awards ceremony at Walton High School on the evening of January 23, 2018

The Teacher of the Year award went to South Walton High School biology instructor Joan Kennett. Ms. Kennett is a passionate and committed teacher.  As a 27-year veteran teacher, she has taught in Atlanta, Georgia, southern Indiana, and is currently in her fifth-year teaching biology at South Walton High School. 

Ms. Kennett earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Kennesaw State College and received her Gifted Credentials from West Georgia College.  Ms. Kennett creates a stimulating, high quality, challenging learning environment that promotes students to excel in STEM.  Bringing her energy to the classroom, Ms. Kennett takes pride in her hands-on activities that engage, excite, and make learning fun.  To enrich and challenge students in STEM, Ms. Kennett was awarded grants from Walton Education Foundation and the National Defense Industrial Association ACCELerator Program.  Ms. Kennett implemented the Lab Coat Award given to students who diligently achieve outstanding science merit by completing and meeting the rigorous award criteria. 

As Student Government Association sponsor, Ms. Kennett motivates student leaders within the school and community, instilling the utmost regard for integrity and character.  One of the most successful and illustrious Student Government projects is the “Senior Citizen Prom”.  As a teacher leader, Ms. Kennett is actively involved as a teacher mentor and advocate for developing best classroom practices.  In the spring of 2017, Ms. Kennett’s students scored 97% and ranked fifth in the state on the biology state test. Ms. Kennett expressed what a privilege it is to represent the excellence of teachers, staff, administrators, school board members, and students in the Walton County School District.  

Ms. Kennett shared "I want to be better tomorrow than I was today.  My kids are very important to me, and I love watching them grow...see them strive to do their very best! I always encourage them to do their best, and be their best." 


Pictured: Superintendent Hughes; Joan Kennett, Teacher of the Year

The Educational Support Professional of the Year award goes to Ms. Renee Patrick.  Ms. Patrick is an ESE Paraprofessional with the Walton County School District. She has been with the district going on 13 years.  Ms. Patrick has had the pleasure of working at Bay Elementary, Paxton School, Walton Vocational School, and presently Walton High School.  She attended Northwest Florida Community College and graduated in 2003 with an A.S. degree in Early Childhood Education, all while working and raising her children as a single parent and maintaining a spot on the Dean’s list.

 Ms. Patrick finds true fulfillment in her duties as an ESE paraprofessional. She welcome the challenges of the unknown with her special needs students, all while taking whatever the situation may be as an opportunity to show them that it is going to be okay because whatever the issues may be, they will conquer it together.

Ms. Patrick’s philosophy on work, play, and life in general is staying positive even with all that is going on in our world. Do the right thing and everything will fall in its proper place of gratitude.

Pictured: Joan Kennett; Renee Patrick

Pictured: M.H. Carr, Walton Education Foundation; Joan Kennett, Teacher of the Year: Alexis Tibbetts, SWHS Principal