Tampa, FL- Over 360 school board members, superintendents, and education leaders attended the FSBA/FADSS Annual Summer Conference for three days of leadership development, networking, and training.  These representatives included Walton’s own Superintendent of Schools, A. Russell Hughes, as well as Walton County Board Members, Mrs. Jeri Michie and Mrs. Tammy Smith.

The theme of the conference, Centered on Students, featured AJ Crabill as the keynote speaker. Mr. Crabill’s presentation was guided by the idea that student outcomes do not change until adult behaviors change. Drawing in his intimate familiarity with the triumphs and terrors of America’s safety nets for children, Mr. Crabill has devoted much of his life to advocating for the well-being of our nation’s most vulnerable youth. AJ currently serves as Conservator at DeSoto, Texas Independent School District; Education Faculty at the Leadership Institute of Nevada; Director of the Council for the Great City Schools in Washington, DC; and has served as Board Chair for the Kansas City Public schools and Deputy Commissioner of Education for the State of Texas.

The conference also featured a legislative session review and legislator Q&A which included: Representative Chris Latvala, Representative Rene Plasencia, and Representative Fentrice Driskell. The panel conversation intent behind the legislation and how the addition of progress monitoring will benefit Florida’s students, while ensuring districts continue to meet students’ needs.

In addition to the keynote presentation, legislative session review, and breakout sessions, the associations also conducted annual business meetings. The new Florida Commissioner of the Florida Department of Education, and former State Senator, Manny Diaz Jr., briefly spoke to the Florida School Boards Association to introduce himself. Commissioner Diaz is looking forward to working together for students, staff, and schools.  Walton representatives were able to speak with Commissioner Diaz and also Senior Chancellor Jacob Oliva as well.

“It is critical for school board members to obtain professional development so they can better serve their districts and committees,” commented FSBA Chief Executive Officer Andrea Messina. “This event also provides valuable collaboration between and among school board members that results in the sharing of ideas, programs, and processes. Board members took seriously this year’s theme, Centered on Students, and spent time seeking ways to ensure all students learn at high levels.”

Superintendent Hughes also echoed the importance of collaboration.  “I appreciate time to discuss pressing issues and new legislation with other Superintendents, and there is added joy to do so alongside board members, Mrs. Michie and Mrs. Smith.  Your Walton County School Board is one of the best in the state.  The board is master board trained, but more importantly, these individuals put students first.  I was proud to attend the conference as a collaborative team.”

The mission of the Florida School Boards Association is to increase student achievement through the development of effective school board leadership and advocacy for public education.


For Photo Caption:

From L to R: Mrs. Tammy Smith, Superintendent A. Russell Hughes, and Mrs. Jeri Michie represent Walton County at the FSBA/FADSS conference in Tampa, Florida.