School Board Announces New Ruckel Middle School Principal.

Christopher Saul

Christopher Saul

Mid Bay News

In a unanimous vote – The Okaloosa County School Board named Joe Jannazo the new principal of Ruckel Middle School. 

Principal Jannazo currently serves as principal of Destin Elementary School. 

Janazzo will replace current Ruckel Principal Paul Whiddon. According to Principal Whiddon’s LinkedIn Bio, he has served as Ruckel Principal since October of 2005. 

Jannazzo graduated from Choctawhatchee High School. After graduation, he earned a political science degree from Florida State University in 2004.

His current school, Destin Elementary School rated as an A school by the Florida Department of Education every year since 2000.

The team at Destin Elementary School continued the successful run with four more years of A ratings from the Florida Department of Education during Jannazo’s tenure as the school’s principal.

Jannazo began as a Pryor Middle School teacher in Fort Walton Beach and earned his Master’s in Educational Leadership from the University of West Florida. He then served as assistant principal at Choctaw High School. 

 Currently, Jannazo has three children in the Okaloosa County School System. They attend Fort Walton Beach High School, Destin Middle School and Destin Elementary School. 

Ruckel Middle School has been consistently rated an “A” school by the Florida Department of Education – and has been since 2000. 

“Mr. Chairman, board members, I appreciate the continued trust in me to take on  another school in our great district,” Jannazo said at the school board meeting on May 23rd, “I am very much looking forward to getting started here tomorrow and I’m looking forward to joining the Ruckel family and getting out in the community and making some lasting relationships.”

Additionally, Jannazo’s installation as the principal of Ruckel Middle School means both schools which teach students in 6th, 7th and 8th grades in the Niceville and Valparaiso area will have new leadership in the fall.

The Lewis School, which teaches students from kindergarten to 8th grade welcomed former Fort Walton Beach Assistant Principal Lindsay Smith earlier this year. 

You can follow principal Jannazo on twitter at @okaloosajoe.

Group of people taking a photo at an okaloosa county school board meeting
New Ruckel Middle School Principal Joe Jannazo celebrates his appointment as principal of Ruckel Middle School
A statue of a Ram
The Ruckel Ram Statue in Front of Ruckel Middle School

What Okaloosa School Does My Address Attend?

Wondering what school your student is districted for in Okaloosa County?

Newcomers to Okaloosa County Schools can easily find their school attendance zone using this map:


Generally speaking, students south of government avenue (HWY 85) will attend The Lewis School for elementary and middle school. Students to the north and east of Government Avenue will attend Edge for elementary school and Ruckel Middle School for middle school.

All students in Niceville, Valparaiso, Bluewater Bay and Eglin Air Force Base can attend Niceville High School as their distracted school.  

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