KINGWOOD — Central Preston Middle School’s new principal is no stranger to students, parents and the staff.
Paul Martin served as the school’s dean of students last year. It marked his return to middle school students. His career began in 1995 at Taylor County Middle School. He left Taylor County in 2003 to teach and coach at Preston High.
“What I like about kids that age is their enthusiasm,” Martin said.
About 2009 he began working on his master’s, with the idea of possibly entering sports administration. Positions came and went, but he kept recalling how much he had enjoyed working with middle school students.
“Last year was fantastic,” he said. “And I learned so much. I learned a lot from the students. They’re part of that process.”
He also learned from CPMS Principal Karen Ovesney, who retired this summer, and the staff, Martin said.
Looking at the year ahead, he knows math scores are weak. He also hopes to improve attendance and to see that Central Preston has a bigger presence in the community.
“When kids want to come to school, their attendance improves,” he noted.
A Kingwood native, Martin knows many of the parents of his students either as his own former classmates or because they are the children of his former students.
“[Ovesney] structured things so I was really more of an assistant principal than a dean of students,” so Martin doesn’t think his change in status will be that big a change for staff or students. Many encouraged him to apply for the job.
“It’s a unique staff,” Martin said, that is close in school and out, in part because of its size, about 20 people.
He found that Ovesney shared responsibilities, “and because of that [staff] become very invested in their school and it becomes more important to you.”
“I’ve made a career of being dealt — formerly, athletes — and taking those athletes and trying to be the best, and in my position now, it’s very, very similar. It’s people who are with me, so my job is to motivate them, to provide guidance … That’s what I think I’m good at.”
Martin wants to make Central more of a digital school. Two of the grades have county-issued laptops, and others will get them.
He plans to continue coaching for a while longer. His children are a junior, freshman and fifth grader, and he wants to coach them and their friends.
The son of a long-time Preston educator, Martin, 46, has many interests, including working on a farm the family recently bought.
“This is my home. I’m not going anywhere. You’ve got me for at least a decade, if not longer,” Martin said.
Preston School Superintendent Steve Wotring said that Martin’s time as dean of students, “served to provide great training.” He described Martin as “very articulate and professional in all that he does.
“He is very aware of the successes and the challenges that are present. He knows the current reality and can verbalize his plan to improve upon it. I believe his vision and enthusiasm will carry him far. I feel he will be able to build public support for the school, which has been lacking in the past,” Wotring said.