FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- With construction of the temporary elementary school site already under way, Fort Rucker schools are working to bond the elementary and primary schools as they prepare to be housed under one roof.

The Fort Rucker Primary School and Fort Rucker Elementary School are now under the leadership of a single administration, as Dr. Vicki Gilmer was named principal over both schools and Ryan Smith was named interim assistant principal earlier this year, according to Dr. Lisa Coleman, Department of Defense Education Activity Georgia/Alabama community superintendent.

"We're getting ready to construct a school that will have one principal and enrollment of the two combined schools. We wanted to provide Dr. Gilmer the opportunity to be the helm of the new school. We're excited about that," said Coleman during a board of education meeting Jan. 10. "We are excited for Dr. Gilmer -- we're excited about her leadership and we're excited about being able to pull these two schools together before getting into one facility."

Gilmer has been an educator for 27 years, and has served the Fort Rucker community for each of those years as a classroom teacher, a reading teacher, an assistant principal and a principal.

"I have dedicated my life to this community and have been proud to do so," she said.

Smith is a Marine Corps veteran who attended college in upstate New York following his time in service to become an educator. He taught in New York for four years, as well as at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery for another four years before coming to Fort Rucker to teach physical education and now to serve as interim assistant principal.

For Gilmer, the opportunity to preside over both schools is something that she said gives her great pride.

"To be over both schools is an awesome event," she said. "I was here (at the primary school) for 20 years, and it was my heart and my home, and then I went to the elementary school, and that became my heart and my home, so now to have both of them and have the opportunity to blend them into one school will be phenomenal.

"We've always been a great school system, but we've always been separate with separate administrators," said the principal. "This is a really good opportunity to help us to become one before we go into the new school."

The new school will be built at the current location of the elementary school and will be a modern, two-story facility that will house both the elementary and primary schools. While construction is under way, elementary school students will be taught at a temporary site located across from Lyster Army Health Clinic, which is currently under construction, where Gilmer said they will be provide the same level of education they currently receive.

"It's a temporary site, but they're really doing it right," she said. "They will have a full gymnasium, a full playground, full media center and full cafeteria."

The estimated time for the temporary site completion is around 18 months and the children are expected to be there for two years before the new school is completed.

"We're bringing together two great faculties and I want to help them to become one great faculty, and really have the opportunity to share resources between the two schools and learn a little bit more from each other," said the principal. "Both (schools) are highly ranked and have great academic standings, and both have great (faculty), so being able to blend all of that is just going to multiply our talents."

Coleman expressed full confidence in Gilmer and said she looks forward to the success of her administration and team.

"Dr. Gilmer, I trust your judgment and your leadership, and I will do anything I need to do to support your success," she said.