Wendelynn “Wendy” McPherson was approved Tuesday as the new principal at Marathon High and Middle School, replacing Hammond Gracy who resigned before the end of the school year. This is McPherson’s second position at MHS — she was assistant principal from 2008 to 20012.

“I’m ecstatic,” she said. “I didn’t want to leave, but I knew that in order to become principal, I would need to get more experience at another school to be eligible.”

For the past two years McPherson has served as the assistant principal of Sugarloaf Elementary School.

“Mrs. McPherson is an outstanding choice to replace Mr. Gracy,” Superintenent Mark Porter said in a press release. “She is a skilled instructional leader who has experience in the community. I have confidence in Mrs. McPherson and I know she will continue the excellence that has been established at Marathon High School.”

McPherson moved to Key West when she was 10 years old. She received an undergraduate degree from Florida State University and a masters in education at University of West Florida. She’s worked for the Monroe County School district for 22 years.

With her past experience at MHS, she said she has a broad understanding of the issues facing Middle Keys schools and students. She said she wants continue to expand the Advanced Placement classes and Dual Enrollment with the community college. Other than that, she said she isn’t ready to divulge any grand plans until she’s had a chance to talk to more parents and school staff and faculty.

“I’ve talked to a lot of community members and they’ve let me know their perspective,” she said. “I want to hear from staff about what they want fixed and where their particular interests lie. That starts the nucleus of solutions and it spreads out from there. We have a good faculty and the staff genuinely care for students. There’s some disagreement, and that’s natural, but for the most part they are willing to do what’s necessary for the students and that’s so important.”

In addition to six years as an assistant principal, McPherson’s experience includes teaching elementary students for 11 years as well as district reading specialist for five years.

McPherson said she is aware Middle Keys parents wants a school leader that is involved in the community.

“I want to be involved. I want to be a part of it. I know that’s a concern,” she said. “The Marathon community is very vocal about this. And I only live 40 minutes away, so that’s not like driving to Miami,” she laughed.

She is married to Michael McPherson, a director of curriculum affairs at Florida Keys Community College. Michael is brother to Morgan McPherson, former mayor of Key West and Ben McPherson, an administrator with Historic Tours of America.

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