Two of the Florida Keys’ three public high schools will have a new principal in the fall.

Chistina McPherson is leaving Key West High School for an administrative job as the school district’s executive director of teaching & learning. And Laura Lietaert has been promoted to principal of Coral Shores High School.

McPherson’s replacement at KWHS has not been named.

“The KWHS position will be advertised and will be selected in the coming weeks,” school district spokeswoman Amber Acevedo told the Keys Weekly. “I know change always causes speculation, but all are committed to a smooth transition.”

Christine McPherson, current Key West principal who’s leaving to take an administrative job with the school district’s executive director of teaching & learning. CONTRIBUTED

McPherson is no stranger to district administration, having served as MCSD’s director of assessment and accountability from 2011-2014. 

“Christina’s breadth of experience will be an asset in this role,” Superintendent Theresa Axford said. “As a former elementary, K-8 and high school principal, she is uniquely qualified to understand the needs of students and administrators.”

“I have the honor of working with amazing educators who work tirelessly to provide our students with the best possible educational experiences that lead to growth and future opportunities,” McPherson said.         

At the other end of the island chain, Axford announced, Coral Shores graduate Lietaert, principal at the K-8 Key Largo School, will be the next Coral Shores principal.


Lietaert grew up in the Upper Keys. 

“The foundations provided to me by the teachers at Key Largo School, Plantation Key School and Coral Shores set me up for success,” Lietaert said. “This is my opportunity to give back to a school and community that has given me so much. I’m proud to be a Hurricane once again.”

Lietaert will take over for retiring principal Blake Fry when the new school year begins.

“We are thrilled to have Ms. Lietaert lead Coral Shores High School,” Axford said. “Her years of innovative leadership and dedication will continue to propel them. I appreciate Laura’s work in building relationships at Key Largo School and I know she will use these same skills to support Coral Shores High.”

Laura Lietart, current Key Largo School principal and new Coral Shores principal. CONTRIBUTED

Lietaert’s many assets include her approachability, Axford said, noting she welcomes input from students, parents and the community members who are part of the school system where her four children attended. Her daughter, Stephanie, is a teacher at Plantation Key School. Sons Robert, John and Bernie are serving in the U. S. Coast Guard. 

No word yet on her replacement as principal of Key Largo School.

Fry served as Coral Shores principal for 10 years. He told the Keys Weekly that his wife, Mary Jo, and he decided it was time to retire and enjoy family time. 

“We have always planned to spend half the year in Michigan, then when the snow flies return to Key Largo,” he said. “Right now the time just seems right,” noting their daughters “both relocated to southern Michigan and just finished graduate school and are planning their futures in Michigan. “

Fry said his time teaching, coaching and working with “outstanding educators at every level has been a dream come true.”

“Coral Shores has been a major part of our lives for decades and we are grateful for the opportunity we have had here,” he said. 

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