James Lee Hale, Ed.D.


Dr. James Lee Hale is in his 23rd year as a professional educator.  He is currently the Principal at Choctawhatchee High School in Fort Walton Beach, Florida.

A lifelong native of the beautiful Shalimar/Fort Walton Beach area, he is a product of the Okaloosa County School System.  After attending both Elliott Point and Shalimar Elementaries, as well as Meigs Junior High School, he graduated from Choctawhatchee High School in 1989. He then attended Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration (1993). He also holds a Master of Education degree in Global Leadership and Administration from Jones International University (2004) and a Specialist of Education degree 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 National Board Certified Teacher in Career and Technical Education and advocate for rigorous and complex practical learning, Dr. Hale began his career by spending 12 years on the instructional faculty at Choctawhatchee High School teaching a variety of courses in the Business Technology and Social Studies Departments where he was twice recognized in “Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers.”  During his time teaching, he also coached baseball and football and served as the school’s webmaster.  Dr. Hale also served for 3 years (2005-2007) as the Coordinator for Choctaw Academy, a school for at-risk students.  He then joined the Leadership Team at Choctawhatchee High School in January of 2007 where he served as the Assistant Principal for Curriculum and Instruction.  In 2010, Dr. Hale was honored to be 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 began his tenure as Principal at Meigs Middle School in Shalimar, Florida. During his four years there, the Wildcats earned 4 straight A’s, the highest recognition bestowed on a school by the state of Florida.  Also during his time at Meigs, the student population, representing a wide spectrum of student demographics, grew by nearly 10%. While there, curricular innovations included: a revamped TAG (Talented and Gifted) Program which calls to mind the rigorous expectations of the most challenging high school programs, a state of the art RISE (Robotics Integration and STEM Education) program for grades 6 through 8 that was created to be a springboard into Choctaw’s Aviation, Engineering, and IT programs, grade-level blocked math support and content scheduling, dedicated technology assets for improved achievement programs, and Learning Strategies classes.  In addition, extracurricular and co-curricular opportunities grew through the addition of the Multicultural Council, AFJROTC Prep Club, Art Club, Camo Cats, Robotics Club, Archery Team, program-wide weight training for all athletes, and the return of summer band.

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.  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 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.

An active member of First Baptist Church, Fort Walton Beach, Dr. Hale is the Sunday school teacher for young married couples. He enjoys golf, singing, weightlifting, social media, reading, and writing.  Dr. Hale has an affinity for music and drama.  He enjoys attending sporting events.  He loves to support active students.  His mantra has always been, “the most successful students are involved students, those who have ownership in the school.” Dr. Hale has been happily married to his beautiful wife, Gretchen, for over 20 years and has two very active and involved children: Brett, a Choctawhatchee graduate and current student at Troy University in Troy, Alabama, majoring in Geomatics and Eve, an International Baccalaureate student at Choctaw.

You can follow Dr. Hale on Twitter at @coachhale or on Instagram @doctorleehale.