Thanks to three retirements and one staff departure, students at seven Marion County public schools will have new principals next school year.
Superintendent George Tomyn made the announcements after current faculties at the seven schools were told about the appointments.
Here’s a look at the administrative changes and why they are being made:
K-12 Academic Services – Renee Dudley moves here as the new executive director, replacing Pam Brewer, who is leaving for the private sector after 15 years with the district. Dudley is the current principal at Fort King Middle and has 20 years with the district as a teacher, assistant principal and principal. Her bachelor’s in business administration / marketing and master’s in educational leadership both come from the University of Florida.
Fort King Middle – Gary Smallridge transfers as principal from the same position at Marion Oaks Elementary. Smallridge joined Marion County Public Schools in 2001 and also served as principal at Ward-Highlands and Maplewood Elementary schools. Smallridge earned his bachelor’s in elementary education and his master’s in educational leadership from the University of Central Florida. He replaces Renee Dudley.
Marion Oaks Elementary – Natalia Robledo becomes a first-time principal here. Originally hired in 2005, Robledo taught at Dunnellon and Evergreen Elementary schools before moving to administration. In 2009, she became assistant principal at Sunrise Elementary and moved to her current AP position at Marion Oaks Elementary two years ago. Her bachelor’s in elementary education comes from Florida International University. Her master’s in reading and specialist degree in educational leadership come from NOVA Southeastern University. She replaces Gary Smallridge.
Vanguard High – John Kerley moves here as principal from his current principal position at North Marion Middle. He previously served as assistant principal at North Marion Middle and Maplewood Elementary schools. Kerley started with MCPS as a social studies teacher in 1997 at Forest High. Kerley holds a bachelor’s in social science from Florida Southern College and a master’s in educational leadership from NOVA Southeastern University. Kerley replaces Cindy Repp, who retires after 22 years with the district.
North Marion Middle – Philip Leppert becomes principal here and moves from assistant principal at West Port High. Leppert previously served as a teacher, assistant principal, and principal at three schools and was the district’s executive director of Human Resources before returning to the school level three years ago. He replaces John Kerley.
Osceola Middle – Previously an assistant principal at Osceola Middle, Suzette Parker returns as principal. Parker started with MCPS in 2001 as a science teacher at West Port High. She also taught at North Marion Middle and High schools before being named assistant principal at Osceola five years ago. Last year, she moved to the district level to work in the School Development and Evaluation department. Parker is Marion County’s 2005 Teacher of the Year and earned her bachelor’s in animal science and master’s in science education from the University of Georgia. Her specialist degree in educational leadership comes from National-Louis University. She replaces retiring Principal John McCollum, who leaves after 36 years with the district.
Eighth Street Elementary – First-time Principal Treasa Buck will lead this school thanks to the retirement of current Principal John McCollum. A Lake Weir High graduate, Buck earned both her bachelor’s in special education and master’s in early childhood education from the University of Florida. She started with MCPS 15 years ago at Anthony Elementary and moved to Evergreen Elementary in 2009. Three years later, she became assistant principal at Greenway Elementary, her current position.
Stanton-Weirsdale Elementary – Debra Riedl becomes a first-time principal here following the retirement of current Principal Chris Sandy, who leaves later this year after 33 years with MCPS. After earning her associate’s diploma in practical nursing, Riedl furthered her education with a bachelor’s in elementary education and master’s in educational leadership, both from St. Leo University. Riedl joined MCPS in 1998 as a fifth-grade teacher at Oakcrest Elementary and moved on to teach at South Ocala and Sparr Elementary schools. In 2005, she was named a Golden Apple Teacher and finalist for Marion County’s Teacher of the Year. Riedl became assistant principal at Sparr in 2010 and moved in the same capacity to Shady Hill Elementary two years later. Last year, she moved to the district level to work with the School Development and Evaluation department.
With the exception of Fort King Middle and Marion Oaks Elementary, these principal appointments become effective July 1, 2015. Smallridge’s move to Fort King Middle is effective April 27 due to Brewer’s May 1 departure, as is Robledo’s move at Marion Oaks Elementary because of Smallridge’s move.
GOLD SHINES DURING SILVER ANNIVERSARY - Marion County’s Golden Apple Teacher Academy celebrated its 25th anniversary recently by adding six new members to its ranks. All six teachers were surprised with classroom visits to share the exciting news. Five received Golden Apples, including Forest High’s Bethany Crawford, who is Marion County’s 2015 Teacher of the Year. This year’s other Golden Apple recipients include Christina Etts (Dr. NH Jones Elementary), Beth Lazar (Evergreen Elementary), Dwayne Molock (Greenway Elementary), and Aisha Shaheed (Howard Middle). Meantime, Matthew Binkley (Evergreen Elementary) is Marion County’s 2015 Rookie Teacher of the Year. As the name implies, rookies are fairly new to the classroom, having no more than three years of experience.
100th DAY GOES TO CHARITY - Twenty-six classes participated in Belleview-Santos Elementary’s sixth annual 100th Day of School Food Drive. With everything tallied, 1,930 non-perishable food items were handed over to Interfaith. The winners? Mrs. Christine Attenhofer’s kindergarten academy with 371 items just by themselves! Interfaith confirms Belleview-Santos donates more food than any other school in Marion County.
CA$HING IN ON $AFETY - Lake Weir High students gladly accepted their $500 check for winning this year’s “Battle of the Belts” competition. That’s because more students -- 93 percent -- were observed wearing their seat belts at LWHS than any other local high school. Ayres Cluster, a local law firm, sponsors the competition now in its 12th year.
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Marion County Public Schools
An Equal Opportunity School District
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