School Board Members Take Office

School Board Members Take Office

At the November 20th School Board Meeting Linda Evanchyk, District 3, and Dr. Diane Kelley, District 5, were sworn into office for their first term. Dr. Lamar White, District 1 was sworn in for his second term. Evanchyk replaces retired School Board Chairman, Rodney Walker, and Dr. Kelley replaces retired School Board member, Melissa Thrush.

Dr. Lamar White was selected School Board Chairman and Tim Bryant was selected as School Board Vice-Chairman.

Linda Evanchyk, District 3

Linda Evanchyk

Linda Evanchyk retired in 2017 from the Okaloosa County School District after being an award-winning classroom teacher for 38 years. A product of the Okaloosa County School District, Linda attended elementary, middle and high schools in Okaloosa County, and graduated from Choctawhatchee High School in 1974. She received her Master of Arts in Communication Arts and her Bachelor of Arts in Communication Arts, from the University of West Florida. 

Linda holds an active Florida Teaching Certificate in English (grades 6-12), Journalism (grades 6-12), Educational Media (grades Pre-K-12), and is endorsed in English for Speakers of Other Languages. She is one of the first teachers in Okaloosa County to attain a National Board Teaching Certificate and has been designated a Master Journalism Educator from the National Journalism Education Association. 

From 1984 – 2017, Linda taught English and journalism at Choctawhatchee High School. Prior to that, she taught English and journalism at Raines High School, Jacksonville, Florida from 1979-1984. She serves as an adjunct teacher for Northwest Florida State College’s Veterans Upward Bound Program and a mentor for beginning teachers.

Linda is one of eight children born to the late Morris and Alice Patrick. Mr. Patrick was a veteran of the US Navy and the US Air Force. He retired from the Air Force and Civil Service at Eglin AFB. Mrs. Patrick worked in the Okaloosa School District’s food service program for 20 years. She is married to Mike McMain, also a Choctaw High graduate. They first met as students at Pryor (Jr. High) Middle School.  Mike is a US Navy Reserves veteran who now works as a systems analyst. They have one fur baby- Rudy- a Boston Terrier. 

Linda and Mike enjoy being involved in local school activities and attend many school-related events. They enjoy traveling and attending concerts.  Mike is an avid golfer, and Linda is a freelance writer and a DIY home decorator.


Dr. Diane Kelley, District 5

Dr. Diane Kelley

Prior to running for the school board, Dr. Diane Kelley served more than 36 years in the Okaloosa County school system as a classroom teacher, a school principal, and a district-level leader.  In every position she held, she had one singular focus: that of improving conditions for student achievement.

Just before her retirement from the Okaloosa County School System in 2016, she formed her own educational consulting company, and has served other districts and outside entities in a number of related capacities, ranging from training school principals and teachers to conducting learning walks, to creating evaluation tools, writing educational plans and grants, and numerous public speaking engagements. 

Dr. Kelley received a Doctorate in Educational Leadership/Curriculum & Instruction, a Specialist Degree in Curriculum & Instruction, a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership, and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English Education, from the University of West Florida, and an Educational Media Certification from Florida State University. 

She has served the Okaloosa County School District as the Principal of Laurel Hill School, Bruner Middle School, and Destin Middle School; Director of Technology & Educational Media; Director of Curriculum, Assessment & Instruction; and Director of Principal Evaluation, Training & Support. She is also an Adjunct College Instructor, frequent invited speaker for educational conferences, author, and presenter of more than 30 courses related to educational achievement and personal growth. 

Diane is a life-long resident of Okaloosa County, and she has always been active in her community, serving as volunteer tutor of writing and Language Arts, pianist at local churches, and as an elected member of the Valparaiso City Commission.  In addition, she serves on the board and is a member of several local charities. 

Married to Dr. Bill Smith, they have two children Kristin Kelley Rizzo, who is a physician at the VA Hospital in Orlando, Florida; and Ryan Smith, who is a data scientist with McKinsey & Company in Boston, Maryland. 


Dr. Lamar White – District 1 

Dr. Lamar White

Dr. Lamar White retired from the Okaloosa school system in 2012 after serving the students, teachers, parents, and citizens of Okaloosa County for 35 years as a teacher, coach, administrator and principal (26 years: 1986-2012). He has worked for the citizens of Okaloosa County in many different capacities over the last 40 years.  With a strong work ethic and commitment to public service, Lamar has worked alongside teachers, parents, and volunteers to make a positive difference in the lives of our youngest citizens. 

Lamar earned his Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Florida State University, a Master of Arts in American History and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of West Florida. He has served the Okaloosa County as a School Board member, and Principal of Meigs Middle School, Ruckel Middle School, Plew Elementary School, and Ocean City Elementary School; District Administrator; Adjunct College Professor; Assistant Principal; High School Teacher; and High School Coach. 

Lamar first arrived in Okaloosa County at the age of seven in 1961 when his father Leon L. White, Sr. left service in the U.S. Army (combat veteran, Korea) and began his new civil service career at Eglin A.F.B. Leon was very involved in early Okaloosa County and even helped to establish the Pee Wee Football League in the City of Fort Walton Beach. Leon was also a past District Governor of the Lions Club. Leon coached many of the area’s finest football players during those early years of the Fort Walton Beach Gators. Lamar’s mother, Mary White, was a teacher at Pryor Junior High.  Lamar played football for his father, attended local schools, and graduated from Choctawhatchee High School in 1971.  During these early years, he also developed a passion for outdoor sports such as fishing, hunting, tennis, and surfing.

At Pryor and Choctaw, Lamar played football, and in 1970, Lamar dated the love of his life, Connie Russell who first arrived in Okaloosa County in 1959 with her Air Force father, Colonel F.M. Russell who was a fighter pilot in WWII/P-47 & P-51; Korea/F-86; & Vietnam/F-105. Colonel Russell was awarded the Silver Star Medal for gallantry in action against an enemy of the United States. 

In 1972, Lamar and Connie were married while they attended college full-time and worked in part-time jobs. Following graduation from college in 3 years, Connie began to work as an English teacher at Fort Walton Beach High School. Lamar became a teacher and coach (football, tennis, & cross country) at Choctawhatchee. In 1978, their son Ben was born.  Ben lives in Destin, works as a software engineer for a local defense contractor, and is married to Bethany (Dalmau) whose family also resides in Destin. 

After teaching for 34 years, Connie retired from her teaching position at Choctawhatchee High School in 2008.  During Lamar’s 35-year career with the Okaloosa School District, Lamar worked at every level - as a high school teacher and coach, elementary school principal, district staff member, adjunct college professor, and middle school principal.  In his final position, Lamar served as the principal of Meigs Middle School for 11 years working with teachers and parents to earn Florida “A” school grades every year for superior student academic performance.

Lamar has always placed a strong emphasis on academic achievement for students, and he strongly supports the fine and performing arts.  In high school, Lamar enjoyed speech and debate and serves as a reviewer for Voice and Speech Review, a scholarly publication of the Voice and Speech Trainers Association.  From his own experiences, Lamar believes that extracurricular activities also play an important role in student development and further enhance student academic achievement.

Lamar and Connie are very active in Okaloosa County and have resided in Shalimar for the past 35 years.