FREEPORT — Walton County teachers got the royal treatment Friday during the school district’s EPIC2 Leadership Training Day, one week before the first day of school.

Educators from each of the county’s nearly 20 schools gathered at Freeport High School for the second year in a row to celebrate the past year’s achievements and train in excellence, professionalism, innovation and collaboration.

Purple decorations lined the halls as hundreds of teachers registered for break-out sessions throughout the day. Superintendent of Schools Russell Hughes chose the color purple because it represents royalty, and that’s how the teachers deserve to be treated, he said.

“You are royalty. It’s rare to have such a great district, great district board, great support staff, great leaders — and we understand that,” Hughes said. “We are family.”

Before the teachers dispersed into training sessions based on their schools and their content areas, they heard from Hughes about the several achievements the School District has seen in the past year.

For the first time since 2014 the district received an A grade. Only 20 out of Florida’s 67 school districts achieved that. Every Walton County school received a C grade or higher.

The district is also No. 2 in the state for algebra. Every middle school student taking geometry was proficient in last year’s state assessment. In 11 out of 21 content areas, the district ranked in the top 10.

Every high school senior last year graduated with a diploma.

“That’s rare, and you’re making it happen,” Hughes told the teachers.

When schools were struggling in science, Hughes brought in professionals and devised a plan to improve the scores. National academic software company Study Island recently contacted the district and wants to highlight the progress made in science in only a year.

“There’s still no acceptable rate of casualties or failures,” Hughes said. “We’re doing really good ... but we cannot allow children to fail.”

Keynote speaker Erin Gruwell, who founded the Freedom Writers Foundation in 1997, shared her story to inspire teachers to help students succeed. Gruwell, a 24-year veteran educator, created the Freedom Writer Methods, a progressive teaching philosophy and curricula designed to achieve excellence from all students, according to a press release from the School District.

“I’m an ordinary teacher that had extraordinary kids,” Gruwell said. “If someone would have told me that very first group of children would be in my life 24 years later, I don’t think I would’ve believed them.”

Gruwell and her students have appeared on numerous television shows, including "Oprah" and "Good Morning America." Gruwell and the Freedom Writers have earned dozens of awards over the past 20 years.