LEWIS CENTER — Olentangy Orange High School (OOHS) will be under new guidance this school year as Monica Asher prepares to take over the building.
Previously, Asher served as the principal at Chagrin Falls High School for the past five years and has also held roles as athletic director at Huron High School and assistant principal at Avon Lake and Rocky River high schools. She also sits on the board of directors of the Ohio Association of Secondary School Administrators (OASSA) and on the Ohio Department of Education’s Educator Standards Board, as well as the chairwoman of the OASSA Women’s Leadership Committee.
Asher is succeeding Trond Smith, who served as principal at OOHS for the past five years before transitioning into a new role as the director of administrative services and athletic directors in the district.
“I am looking forward to becoming a part of this awesome school and community,” Asher said of the upcoming school year. “The students I have met are excited, curious and humble. The staff has shown incredible enthusiasm and a desire to be even greater than they are already.”
Asher added that “the excitement here is contagious” and that OOHS is “a special place because of the people.”
Serving as a school administrator was never on Asher’s radar when she began her career in education as a teacher. It was by chance that an administrative position opened up in her school, and at the behest of the principal who believed she was well-suited for the role, Asher applied for the position. “I am so thankful for his encouragement because I love this work,” Asher said.
Like any leader taking over a new school building, establishing a culture will be among Asher’s top priorities this year. Asher wants to encourage OOHS students and staff to strive for greatness without fear of making mistakes while also knowing there is a support system in place to help them overcome obstacles along the way.
“I want to promote a culture in which students and staff feel empowered, safe to set high goals, take risks, and make mistakes,” she said. “I want students and staff to feel confident that they can overcome challenges and know they have support when they face those challenges. I want each person in the building to be excited to come here each day.”
Asher admitted moving forward into new territory as an educator can be challenging and “a bit unnerving,” but added that it is also exciting because of the opportunities available. As a whole, the district continues to rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic, which Asher said has created challenges different from any she has faced in her career. However, she went on to say those pandemic-associated challenges haven’t been without valuable lessons to be learned and carried forward.
“We’ve learned some great lessons over the past two years — the importance of community, that we can further individualize education so that every child can achieve goals that may have been previously out of reach, and that our teachers have an incredible capacity to innovate and truly care about our kids and the quality of their education,” Asher said. “Even though we’ve faced some pretty incredible challenges in recent years, I remind myself that ease is the greatest threat to progress, and we can do amazing things this school year.”