All about Asher: Orange welcomes new principal

design & photo: Nathan Chow

As the Pioneers blast off into a new school year, they are greeted with some changes to the school’s administrative staff.  As students say goodbye to formal principal Trond Smith, they welcome a new face, Monica Asher, as the buildings new principal.

With Smith leaving the school, the district went through multiple candidates for principal, to find the perfect fit. This process wasn’t taken lightly, as this role is very important to the high school, and the district.

“There are multiple interviews with the district leadership team, as well as other stakeholders in the community. But ultimately, the superintendent makes the final decision,” Smith said. “Ms. Asher impressed the group from the beginning, and ultimately was able to separate herself as the best candidate by the end of the search.”

Principal Monica Asher was hired at the school in May 2022, and by the end of June, she was already moved in.

“The thing that was nice is that I got to do it in the summer, when things were kind of calm, so I didn’t feel crazy. So, I got to spend some time to get used to Lewis Center and explore the area before I started my job,” Asher said.

While it did take Asher some time to get familiar with Lewis Center, the city of Columbus as a whole, was not a new sight.

“During the middle of last school year, I started to think about moving to Columbus,” Asher said. “I do some work with the Ohio Department of Education, and I also sit on the board of directors for OHSAA. So, I was coming down to Columbus quite a bit.”

Asher has been in an educator’s job for the past 18 years, and has had a job in administration for 14 years.

“My first year of teaching I taught in Las Vegas, but the cost of living was really high, so I moved back to Ohio,” Asher said. “And then I became an athletic director, an assistant principal at Avon Lake, an assistant principal at Rocky River, and then became a principal at Chagrin Falls, which is where I was the last five years.”

According to The Columbus Dispatch, Asher was named the 2022-2023 principal of the year, by the Ohio Association of Secondary School Administrators.

“But I love this job, and all of its roles, so when you really, really love something, it’s not that there are hard days, but the hard days don’t really feel too bad because you love what you do,” Asher said.

There are many feelings that come with a big move. There’s so much to learn, so many people to meet, and many new things that are to be discovered.

“There’s so much opportunity here, and there’s so much excitement. As much as I’ve wanted to move slowly, the teachers here are very excited about what they do, that they just want to go. And that excitement has been huge and has been absolutely wonderful,” Asher said.

But along with this excitement, there also comes some new challenges that Asher will have to overcome in her first few months.

“As we begin to come out of the last few years of school being impacted by Covid, reconnecting students to the building is essential to being able to continuously improve and meet our goals of making Orange the best high school experience it could possibly be,” Smith said.

Another challenge Asher will face is the increased number of students that the high school has, compared to the number of students she had at her old school.

Asher explained the challenges of going from a smaller student body, like her previous school Chagrin Falls, with 650 students to a much larger student body, of 2000 students. She explained that it is hard to remember names and faces when there is so much more to learn. Yet, she also said that it is beneficial for her to have much more administrative staff for her to lean on.

It is no question that Asher is a perfect fit for the school’s principal. While it may take a while to get used to the change, the impact Asher will leave on the school can already be seen.

“I will always care about and support the Orange and Blue, but this is Ms. Asher’s building now.   I have tremendous confidence in her ability to make the best decisions for Orange High School now and in the future,” Smith said.