The former assistant principal at Orange High School says she feels energized to be working with younger students as the new principal at Liberty Middle School.

The former assistant principal at Orange High School says she feels energized to be working with younger students as the new principal at Liberty Middle School.

Michelle Blackley took the helm at the middle school for the start of the 2012-13 school year. The first day of school was Aug. 22.

She replaced former Principal Gena Williams, who retired this year. The assistant principal at Orange High School is now Nancy Freese.

Blackley said she's looking forward to working with students during a key transitional time in their lives.

"I've always found this age level to be particularly rewarding," she said. "We can be so impactful during this time of their lives if we give them the right guidance and a great education."

She said she believes middle school creates a foundation for success in high school, college and beyond.

Blackley, 43, grew up in Pennsylvania and attended Penn State University.

This is her 22nd year in education. She started her career teaching middle school and high school biology and physics.

She moved to Ohio eight years ago and joined the Olentangy district in 2008 as part of the inaugural administration team at Orange High School during its first year.

Blackley said she's excited to work with her new staff, which includes six teachers new to the building for the 2012-13 school year.

Teachers worked hard over the summer preparing their classrooms and tweaking their lessons to fit the new Common Core standards the district is phasing in over the next two years, she said. The state-mandated standards are designed to be more rigorous.

Students will notice some technology upgrades in the building this year. The computer labs have been outfitted with new Macintosh computers, and the school has new iPads and iPod Touches for use in the classroom.

Librarian Mary Burkey also set up a tech-focused area of the library where students can use iPads, cameras and software to create video projects and presentations.

"The students will be absolutely thrilled with the level of tech we have this year," Blackley said.

Many of the new gadgets were donated by the school's PTO.

Blackley added she's eager to work with parents and community members, whom she said have afforded her a warm welcome.

She currently lives in New Albany with her husband and two children.