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New Davidsen Middle School Principal Named

On May 2 in the afternoon Davidsen Middle School Principal Brent McBrien announced that he was leaving the school to serve as principal of Martinez Middle School.

In his place the Hillsborough School Board appointed Martinez Middle School Assistant Principal Stacy Arena on May 16.

The move comes amid Davidsen’s transition to an attractor school for the arts.

Recent months have seen Davidsen parents meeting with McBrien and Area 2 Superintendent Marcus Murillo to express concerns about the school grades, needed technology, facility maintenance and recent boundary shifts.

Speaking to WOW, Murrillo emphasized the change would not impact Davidsen’s recently announced transition to a school that emphasized the arts. “When a leader leaves, it’s always going to be an impact,” he acknowledged, but he reassured,

“The performing arts theme is moving along.”

Adding in early May before the district announced Davidsen’s new principal, Murrillo said, “We’re trying to find someone equipped for the right fit. Someone who can help the transition and understands the community.” He added, “It will be someone who will have my full support.”

As part of the search, Murrillo met with five candidates for the position along with a number of Davidsen parents and parents of Westchase Elementary students heading to Davidsen next school year.

Murrillo emphasized that while Davidsen was transitioning to an arts attractor program, his first priority was selecting a leader who would emphasize and further strengthen the school’s traditional academic focus.
Remarked McBrien of his departure, “It’s kind of bittersweet in a way. I’ve been here a great eight years. I see Davidsen as my second family. Given all the additions we’ve made that will appear next year, there’s an air of excitement [at Davidsen]. But to have an opportunity to go to Martinez, a school right where I live, that’s kind of exciting as well.”

McBrien added, “I’m definitely not an arts guy. Someone with a fresh take on things is really going to grow the program with the foundation we laid.”

McBrien emphasized that all of Davidsen’s assistant principals and support staff are staying put. As part of the transition, he will also remain at Davidsen until June 6.

New Davidsen Principal Stacy Arena graduated from Chamberlain High School and attended the University of Florida and University of South Florida, where she received her degree in elementary education. During her classroom career, Arena taught math at Just Elementary, Walker Middle School and Matthew Gilbert Middle School in Jacksonville. She also taught at Martinez Middle School for several years before being named assistant principal at Ben Hill Middle School in 2007. She became assistant principal at Martinez Middle School in October 2014.

WOW will introduce Arena to the community in July’s WOW.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher


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