Marco Island middle school names new principal; thanks long-time 'well-loved' leader

Marco Island Charter Middle School's board named Michele Wheeler as the school's new principal.

Marco Island Charter Middle School's board named Michele Wheeler as principal after George Abounader, the school's long-time leader, announced his retirement earlier this year.

Wheeler, the school's assistant principal since last year, will start on her new role July 1, according to a news release.

"I am truly honored for the opportunity to serve as the principal at Marco Island Charter Middle School," she wrote in the release. 

"I look forward to working with community members, families, students and teachers to ensure the continuation of the high-quality education synonymous with Marco Island Charter Middle School."  

Before coming to Marco Island, Wheeler was assistant principal of curriculum and instruction at Everglades City School for four years.

In 1998, Wheeler started teaching in the School District of Collier County and later became reading coach and athletic director. She is currently enrolled in a doctoral of education program where she is completing the dissertation phase. 

"Michele is a stalwart community volunteer and an excellent communicator," as stated in the news release.

Marco Island Charter Middle School principal George Abounader smiles at the camera.

Abounader will retire June 30 after a lifetime of teaching and administration.

"George has been the principal and CEO of Marco Island Charter Middle School for 21 years and has worked hard to ensure that MICMS has been an A rated school for the past 19 years," according to the news release. 

During his tenure, the school has earned the "High Performing School” and “School of Excellence” designations from the Florida Department of Education.

The board will coordinate a celebration for the entire community to honor Abounader "once the concerns with COVID-19 have dissipated," according to the school.

"Tarik Ayasun, president of the executive board, wishes to express his thanks and gratitude to Mr. Abounader for his service not only as principal, but as an advocate of great education, good behavior and limitless community participation."

Omar Rodríguez Ortiz is a community reporter for Naples Daily News and Marco Eagle. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram as @Omar_fromPR, and on Facebook. Support his work by subscribing to Naples Daily News.