Giving up her job as principal at Summit Road STEM Elementary School was a "bittersweet decision" for Dee Martindale.

Giving up her job as principal at Summit Road STEM Elementary School was a "bittersweet decision" for Dee Martindale.

Martindale has been principal since the school opened three years ago, but will leave when the school year ends. She will become principal at Hebron Elementary, which serves students in kindergarten through second grade in the Lakewood Local School District.

"As a working mom, you do your best to try and balance work and family," she said. "I am leaving to take a job closer to home. Currently, I commute over 250 miles a week to work. My new position is just miles from my house."

Martindale and her husband, Brian, a 1993 graduate of Reynoldsburg High School, have two young children, Camryn and Troy.

She has been a part of Summit Road STEM Elementary since "its initial inception idea."

STEM is an acronym that stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

"It has been so rewarding to see our vision become a reality," she said. "Summit Road is an amazing school with wonderful students, supportive families and talented teachers.

"Reynoldsburg is a great district that is doing amazing things for students," she said. "It is my hope to take what I have learned from my time in Reynoldsburg to help make a difference for the students in my community of Hebron."

Martindale said she is leaving the school in capable hands, although the district has not chosen her replacement.

"I feel good knowing that the staff at Summit will have no trouble continuing our excellent program," she said. "Many of them were on the initial planning committee, too. Over the past three years, it truly has been a collaborative effort to design an integrated, problem-based curriculum where students grow and achieve.

"They will have no trouble keeping the fun in 'fundamental' learning," she said.

As the school year winds down, Martindale said it's difficult to think about her last day at Summit Road STEM Elementary.

"I am sure I will be an emotional wreck on the last day of school," she said.

Martindale received her bachelor's degree in education from Marietta College, in her hometown, and earned a master's degree from the Ohio State University. She moved to Reynoldsburg in 1998 and began her career as a sixth-grade teacher at Hannah Ashton Middle School.

She was a teacher and instructional coach at both Hannah Ashton and Waggoner Road middle schools, working with teachers on curriculum and assessments. She also led teacher professional-development sessions.

"I began STEM work when the district received the initial grant from the state and I helped to implement a third-grade unit across the district, where teachers and students studied the Blacklick watershed," she said. "Then we began the planning for the districtwide STEM program.

"My first and only role as an administrator has been at Summit," she said.

Martindale said she is confident the district will choose well in looking for a new principal at Summit. "I am confident they will find someone who believes in the school's mission and will be more than capable of taking Summit to new heights," she said.