School Board Approves New Administrators
The Okaloosa County School Board approved the following new administrators at the March 11, 2019, School Board Meeting: Sheila Lightbourne, Assistant Superintendent Curriculum and Instruction; Dr. Lee Hale, Assistant Superintendent Human Resources; Grant Thompson, Niceville High School Athletic Director; Jon Williams, Assistant Principal, Destin Elementary School; and Patrick Walton, Transportation South Route Coordinator.
Sheila Lightbourne, Assistant Superintendent Curriculum and Instruction
Sheila Lightbourne has been a resident of Shalimar since 1987. She and her husband, Michael, have two children - Michelle and Michael. The light of Sheila’s life is her two beautiful grandchildren, Miles and Maeve.
Sheila received a Bachelor of Science degree in Science Education from the University of South Florida in 1983. That same year, she took her first teaching job at Hillsborough High School in Tampa. Sheila also served an integral role by serving on a committee to develop the marine biology curriculum for Hillsborough County. It was through this that her passion for helping to develop curriculum for teachers was borne.
After moving to Okaloosa County, Sheila took a teaching job in the science department at Choctawhatchee High School. Because of Sheila’s expertise and extensive knowledge in science curriculum, she was asked to teach the Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate Chemistry courses while also serving as the Science Department Chair. No longer just an Okaloosa County expert on science curriculum, Sheila served on the Florida Department of Education’s Standard and Rubric Setting Committee for the Science FCAT. It was during this time that one of Sheila’s proudest moments as an educator came to fruition as she was selected as Florida’s Sunshine State Scholar science teacher.
Sheila received a Master’s in Educational Leadership from the University of West Florida in 2000 and was selected as Curriculum Specialist for Okaloosa County Schools in 2001. While at the district office as a Curriculum Specialist, her duties included k-12 science and math specialist, AP and IB coordinator, AVID District Director, and College Board liaison. She also assisted in the creation of the district Pupil Progression Plan and the SACS accreditation documents. She also worked closely with elementary, middle and high school teachers in the selection of instructional materials for schools, further deepening and honing her knowledge of and passion for curriculum.
In May 2006, Sheila returned to Choctawhatchee High School as the Assistant Principal of Instruction where she developed an extensive staff development program to empower her teachers. Sheila’s overall knowledge in curriculum and school systems did not go unnoticed and by January of 2007, Sheila was selected as the Principal of Shalimar Elementary School. In 2012, Sheila was selected as the Florida Reading Association’s Elementary Principal Reading Leader of the year for her tireless work to continue to empower her teachers with strategies to enhance literacy skills and promoting a culture of literacy for all students and teachers.
Because of Sheila’s all-encompassing knowledge of both curriculum and school systems and processes from elementary to secondary, she was selected first as the Director of Middle School Curriculum in February of 2012, and then as the Secondary Curriculum Director for Okaloosa County Schools in 2014. Sheila’s passion for public education and life-long learning has continually pushed her to do what is best for teachers and students.
Dr. James Lee Hale, Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources
Dr. James Lee Hale is in his 22nd year as a professional educator. He is currently the Principal at Choctawhatchee High School in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. For his undergraduate degree, Dr. Hale attended Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (1993). He also holds a Master’s degree in Global Leadership and Administration from Jones International University (2004) and a Specialist degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of West Florida (2011). In December of 2012, he was awarded a Doctoral degree (Ed.D.) from the University of West Florida in the field of Instructional and Performance Technology.
A former National Board Certified Teacher in Career and Technical Education, Dr. Hale began his career by spending 12 years on the instructional faculty at Choctawhatchee High School, teaching a variety of Business Education courses, twice being recognized in “Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers.”
Dr. Hale served for 3 years (2005-2007) as the Coordinator for Choctaw Academy, a school for at-risk students. And in January of 2007, he joined the Leadership Team at Choctawhatchee High School where he served as the Assistant Principal for Curriculum and Instruction.
In 2010, he was named Florida’s State Assistant Principal of the Year by the Florida Association of School Administrators and the National Association of Secondary School Principals.
In April of 2012, Dr. Hale was named Principal at Meigs Middle School in Shalimar, Florida. Also in 2012, Dr. Hale was honored to be a participant and Apex Forum presenter in Florida’s inaugural Commissioner’s Leadership Academy, sponsored by the Council for Educational Change and the Florida Department of Education.
In April of 2016, Dr. Hale was named the 6th principal of Choctawhatchee High School. Dr. Hale’s schools have, every year, been awarded an A rating.
He is, or has been, a member of several professional organizations including the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), the Florida Association of School Administrators (FASA), the Okaloosa County Administrators and Supervisors Association (OCASA), the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD), and the College Board.
In addition, he has served on various administrative recommendation committees, the Okaloosa County Calendar Committee, the Pupil Progression Committee and since 2015, the OCSD Contract negotiations team. He serves on the Board of Directors for Children in Crisis, Inc., a nonprofit charity committed to “establishing homes and providing hope” for abused, neglected and abandoned children in our local community.
Dr. Hale has been happily married to his beautiful wife, Gretchen, for over 23 years and together, they are the proud parents of Brett, a Senior Geomatics Major at Troy University and Eve, a Senior International Baccalaureate student at Choctaw.
Grant Thompson, Niceville High School Athletic Director
Coach Grant Thompson is a former offensive lineman and 2001 graduate of Niceville High School. Coach Thompson served as the offensive coordinator at Niceville High School from 2008-2014. That six-year stretch included 5 district championships, 3 final four appearances, and two state runner-up campaigns.
In 2015, he left for Graceville High School to become their head football coach and athletic director. In his two years at Graceville, Coach Thompson led the Tigers to back to back regional finals appearances. In 2018, he left for Lincoln High School in Tallahassee to become their offensive coordinator.
Jon Williams, Assistant Principal, Destin Elementary School
Jon Williams is a proud product of Okaloosa Schools, having attended Kenwood, Pryor, and graduating from Ft. Walton Beach High School. Education runs in the family, as he is the son of two retired Okaloosa teachers, Chip and Cathy Williams and his wife Amanda has also taught over 10 years. He began his career in our county as a Classroom Reading Recovery Assistant and Lunch Room Monitor (Kenwood). After completing his Master’s degree, he became a School Counselor (Pryor), was the Dean of Students (Pryor), and then Assistant Principal (Pryor). He served as Principal of Shalimar Elementary School for three years and is currently in his fourth year as Principal of Silver Sands School. Williams holds State of Florida certifications in Guidance K-12, Exceptional Student Education K-12, and Educational Leadership. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from (UWF), a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction (UWF), and a Specialist in Educational Leadership and Policy (FSU). He lives in Mary Esther with his wife of 13 years Amanda and their two children, Ben (8) and Ally (4).
Patrick Walton, Transportation South Route Coordinator
Patrick Walton has lived in Okaloosa County since he was three years old, attending many of the local schools and graduating from Choctawhatchee High School. He began working at Captain D’s while in high school and within the next ten years, worked his way into management, eventually becoming the area supervisor over three restaurants. Patrick left that job to drive an eighteen-wheeler over the road before taking a sales position.
These diverse jobs prepared him for the challenge of setting up the transportation services to meet the needs of Liza Jackson Preparatory School (LJPS) in 2001 as the school was preparing to open. Walton’s responsibilities included purchasing buses, establishing routes, hiring and training drivers, and overseeing the maintenance of the vehicles. In his sixteen-year career at LJPS, he was also contracted out to manage the transportation needs of the Okaloosa Academy campuses in both the north and south ends of the county.
Patrick is happily married to Margaret Walton, who is also from the area and currently teaches at Emerald Coast Middle School in Walton County. They have three children, three grandchildren, and three cats.