CRESTVIEW — New principal Lee Martello’s people skills and scheduling capabilities will serve Laurel Hill School well despite the K-12 campus’ challenges, Okaloosa County School District superintendent Mary Beth Jackson said.
“People need to understand the uniqueness of a school like Laurel Hill,” she said. “It is very, very difficult to figure out how to make all the little blocks fit together and run three different schools, because that’s basically what you’re doing.”
Martello has the business sense, multitasking and communication skills necessary for the job, Jackson said.
“She has worked at elementary, middle school and high school (levels),” the superintendent said. “She has a very clear picture of what it takes to be an administrator in those three levels ... and she’s a master scheduler, which is a great skill and a very rare skill.
“Lee is a very student-centered. She loves children. She likes kids ... It’s difficult to be able to switch gears and go from speaking to 12th-graders and talking to a kindergartner, but I think Lee has those people skills to be able to do that.”
Martello, a Crestview resident, has served nine years as an Okaloosa Schools assistant principal — first at Richbourg Middle, and most recently at Shoal River Middle. She fills a position held by Susan Lowery-Sexton, who will serve as a psychologist for north county schools.
The school board confirmed Martello’s appointment — one of several personnel changes within the district — at its June 10 meeting.
“Sometimes, I think, it’s good for principals to change schools or do different things because you kind of get in a rut. It’s good for the faculty and the students to have a new face and a new challenge and some new ideas,” Jackson said.
In December, the Florida Department of Education gave Laurel Hill School a C using the state accountability system.
Academic performance raised concerns, the superintendent said.
“I’m not real happy with their current test scores,” she said.
Martello’s advancement represents support for her past efforts, including developing a program that boosted student enthusiasm for literature; separating boys and girls in gender-specific classes to aid concentration; and establishing Shoal River’s Mustang Learning Community.
Meanwhile, Lowery-Sexton fills a long vacant position, Jackson said.
“School psychologists are a little tough to find ... she’s very good at that job,” Jackson said.
Martello did not immediately return a phone call for this article.
Email Crestview News Bulletin Editor Thomas Boni, firstname.lastname@example.org, or tweet him @cnbeditor.