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Destin High School announces Dr. Diane Kelley as new principal

Destin High School announced Dr. Diane Kelley as its new principal during an executive board meeting on Tuesday, June 25, 2024. Donald “Willy” Williams, Executive Director of Destin High School, […]

Destin High School names Dr. Diane Kelley as new principal

Destin High School announced Dr. Diane Kelley as its new principal during an executive board meeting on Tuesday, June 25, 2024.

  • Kelley currently serves as an Okaloosa County School Board Member, having first been elected in 2018 and re-elected in 2022.
  • Her resignation letter is being filed today with an effective end-date of August 1.

Donald “Willy” Williams, Executive Director of Destin High School, expressed confidence in the selection.

  • “After careful consideration of each principal candidate’s credentials and the needs of the Destin High community, Dr. Kelley was chosen to serve as principal,” Williams said. “Her dedication, vision, and commitment to educational excellence align perfectly with our vision, mission, and goals.”

The appointment comes after former principal Christine Cruickshank resigned in February 2024, citing a need to focus on family and health. Cruickshank, who had served as principal since the school’s inception, completed her tenure on March 3 and now serves as the school’s Dual Enrollment Coordinator.

Kelley brings extensive experience to her new role. She has served more than 36 years in the Okaloosa County school system as a classroom teacher, school principal, and district-level leader.

  • Her academic credentials include a doctorate in Educational Leadership/Curriculum & Instruction from the University of West Florida, as well as specialist and master’s degrees in related fields.

Throughout her career, Kelley has focused on improving conditions for student achievement. She has held various leadership positions, including principal of Laurel Hill School, Bruner Middle School, and Destin Middle School. At the district level, she has served as Director of Technology and Educational Media, Director of Curriculum, Assessment, and Instruction, and Director of Principal Evaluation, Training and Support.

“I am honored to join the Destin High School community and to serve as its principal,” Dr. Kelley said. “I am committed to working together with our talented educators, dedicated staff, and supportive families to create an environment where every student can succeed.”

Before joining the school board, Kelley formed her own educational consulting company in 2016, working with other districts and entities on various educational initiatives. She is a life-long resident of Okaloosa County and has been active in her community, serving as a volunteer tutor, pianist at local churches, and an elected member of the Valparaiso City Commission.

  • Kelley’s accomplishments include numerous awards and recognitions, such as being named to the Okaloosa County Women’s Wall of Fame in 2008 and receiving the University of West Florida’s “FOCUS on 40” honor in 2007.

Heidi R. LoCicero, president of Destin High School’s Governing Board of Directors, praised the appointment.

“Welcoming a principal of Dr. Kelley’s caliber and experience to our school is an honor,” LoCicero said. “Her exceptional leadership in Okaloosa County Schools, 36 years as an educator and 6 years as a member of the Okaloosa County School Board, has shown her dedication to local education and her willingness to serve the community and inspire student’s success.”

Destin High School, a tuition-free public charter school, operates independently with its own governing board, although its charter was approved by the Okaloosa County School Board in 2019.

  • The hiring of Dr. Kelley will result in a vacancy on the Okaloosa County School Board. Dr. Kelley’s replacement will be appointed by Governor Ron DeSantis.

Destin High School officials express optimism about the school’s future under Dr. Kelley’s leadership, anticipating continued growth and success for their students.

According to Williams, Dr. Kelley will be on campus volunteering and getting acclimated starting in July 1st. She will officially take the reins on August 2nd.

One Response

  1. Dr. Kelley’s selection is a tremendous plus for both the school and the students ,family and friends of Okaloosa County. Her experience, dedication and professionalism are second to none. We can’t wait to see the positive impact she will make, and want to wish her the absolute very best as she begins this exciting season in her remarkable career. Ed & Diana Gilbert, Niceville.

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