Veteran educator gets West Hernando Middle principal's job
BROOKSVILLE — One of Hernando’s veteran assistant principals is taking the top spot at West Hernando Middle School.
Rick Markford, who would have returned for a second year as assistant principal at Challenger K-8 School of Science and Mathematics in Spring Hill this year, has been tapped for the position, superintendent Wayne Alexander said Tuesday.
"Rick possesses the instructional leadership skills necessary to work with a very committed and enthusiastic staff to meet the needs of the kids," Alexander said.
Alexander said he has especially high hopes for Markford’s ability to help the school perform better by the federal No Child Left Behind standards. Those standards require schools to continuously improve test scores -- so-called adequate yearly progress -- and West Hernando, which is west of Brooksville, has struggled in that regard.
Markford, of Spring Hill, started his career in 1983 as a fifth-grade teacher in Hillsboro, Kan. He came to Hernando County in 1986, teaching fourth grade at Westside Elementary in Spring Hill.
Markford taught physical education from 1987 to 2000 at J.D. Floyd Elementary in Spring Hill. He was an assistant principal at Central High School from 2000 to 2008.
He earned a master’s degree in educational leadership from the University of South Florida in 1999. He and his wife, Lorri, have three children, ages 19, 21, and 24.
Alexander picked Markford over one other finalist, Susan May Strong, currently principal of Lenox Memorial Middle and High School in Lenox, Mass.
A search committee interviewed 11 candidates -- a field that included seven other Hernando assistant principals hoping to land their first principal post -- and recommended Markford and Strong as finalists. Alexander interviewed both Monday, but by Monday afternoon the job had been re-posted on the school district’s Web site, raising the question of whether the search process was starting from scratch.
That was "a precautionary measure in the event references don’t check out," Alexander said Tuesday morning. A few hours later, he made the announcement that Markford had been selected.
Tony Marrero, Times Staff Writer