The Westbrook School Department has hired the Saco Middle School principal to run its own school for grades 5 to 8.

Laurie Wood will replace Matt Nelson as principal of Westbrook Middle School, said Superintendent Marc Gousse. She starts Jan. 11.

Before becoming a principal in Saco in 2012, Wood was a teacher and assistant principal at South Portland High School for 13 years. She was named the state’s assistant principal of the year.

Nelson, who was named the state’s Middle Level Principal of the Year by the Maine Principals’ Association in 2014, has served since 2010 as principal of Westbrook Middle School, which has about 780 students, according to its website.

Nelson resigned to become an assistant superintendent in Sanford, Gousse said.