Monday was a homecoming of sorts for Laura Beusse as she started setting up her principal’s office at Ocoee High School. In 2005, she took an assistant principal’s position in the school’s inaugural year and stayed there for seven-and-one-half years. She left three years ago to become principal of Wolf Lake Middle.
And now she’s back, ready to guide the Knights to a successful 2016-17 school year.
She has been in education for 34 years, starting her career as a teacher at Colonial High. She taught at Lake Brantley and Lake Mary high schools, as well.
“There’s something about coming full circle and being back at a high school,” Beusse said. “I’ve been anxious to get started.”
She applied for the position immediately upon hearing of the opening.
“If you have the high-school fever, you've got the fever,” she said.
Beusse attended a meet-and-greet at the school after being hired and realized she already knew many of the staff.
She’s eager to continue and expand the programs at OHS, building on the success of former principals Mike Armbruster and Bill Floyd. A new program called Project Lead the Way is starting this year at Ocoee. It is a college and career umbrella with several programs beneath it, she said. Ocoee is offering engineering as an elective through this project.
Also new this year is the hiring of a second agri-science teacher, Amy Anderson, to teach animal science.
“That’s going to be a great addition here,” she said. “We’re looking to grow in that area.”
Beusse worked previously with Anderson at Ocoee Middle, and Beusse’s two sons studied agriculture under Anderson.
The new OHS principal, who grew up in Apopka, has had educational influences her entire life. Her mother was a school secretary at Apopka High for 34 years, starting immediately after graduating from the school. Beusse is also an Apopka High graduate.
“I feel like I've hit the ground running,” she said. I'm just excited to be here. I have this sense of excitement and an anticipation of continuing to move forward. I'm excited to see all the growth here.”
Beusse lives in Apopka with her husband of 30 years, Jim, and they have twin sons who graduated from Ocoee High School and the University of Central Florida. Jim earned his undergraduate degree and she her master’s degree at UCF, too.
She received her bachelor’s degree in English and speech education at the University of South Florida, choosing that career path because of her high school English teacher, Myrtle Hubbard.
“What she stood for was she expected excellence out of all of us,” Beusse said. Hubbard’s husband was an English teacher at West Orange High, and former Ocoee High School Principal Lester Dabbs was her brother.
“We do so many things right in education,” Beusse said. “There's such a huge impact on people's lives. It really is the whole foundation of what keeps our country moving forward. I think we lose sight of what our teachers do on a daily basis interacting with our kids.”