HILLSBOROUGH — The superintendent of McDowell County Schools was named Orange County Schools superintendent Thursday night.
Gerri Martín will succeed Patrick Rhodes, who retired in June. Del Burns has been interim superintendent.
Martín will take office in October. She has led McDowell County Schools in the west central section of the state since July 2012.
“I am extremely excited for the district,” said Donna Coffey, chairwoman of the county board of education. “I am excited at Dr. Martín’s passion and drive toward public education.”
Coffey said 30 candidates were considered for the position. “It was a long, thoughtful process,” she said. “We got to hear a lot of different voices.”
The board was unanimous in choosing Martín, she said.
Martín has nearly 27 years experience in education. She holds a master’s degree in educational leadership from Appalachian State University and a doctorate of education leadership and cultural foundations from UNC Greensboro.
“I stand before you today as a proud product of public education,” Martín said at Thursday’s meeting.
Martín is bilingual, fluent in Spanish and English. She taught English to Spanish speakers in Salamanca, Spain, and has taught English as a Second Language classes in community colleges.
Coffey said Martín’s fluency is an asset, providing an opportunity for clearer communication with Hispanic parents. Martín said the diversity of Orange County Schools was a selling point for her – 14 percent of students were Hispanic last year.
“I love diversity, and I think it’s an asset to raising my family,” Martín said in an interview.
Her husband is from Spain, and they have three children.
“Orange County Schools has a legacy of excellence, and I feel fortunate and proud to get to take this responsibility,” Martín said at the meeting.
McDowell County Schools has about 6,500 students, and Orange County Schools about 7,600.
The details of Martín’s contract are being finalized. Her base salary as McDowell County superintendent was approximately $121,600.