APPLEGATE: Changes in NHS leadership bring opportunities for reflection, excitement for the future

Published 2:29 pm Friday, January 7, 2022

The past two years have proven how important our educators are when it comes to the academic, emotional and social wellbeing of our children. At Niles Community Schools, we have an incredible team of teachers, staff and administrators who understand and share our mission of providing students with a safe space to learn, grow and play. We have done remarkable work together — both before and during the pandemic ­— and I am optimistic about what is to come. However, for Niles High School, the future is now, as we usher in a change in leadership that will build upon everything that has come before.

This past fall, we announced that Molly Brawley, principal at Niles High School, would retire on Jan. 1, 2022, and Michelle Asmus would be her replacement. Molly has been a vital part of the district in a variety of roles for over 30 years, and she will be greatly missed. Under her leadership, Niles High Schools’ extracurriculars have thrived, and many clubs were created, thanks to her willingness to listen to students’ wishes and provide them with the programs they desired. Additionally, Niles Athletics and competitive clubs competed and won at both the state and national level. Molly also took steps to design a new learning environment for students and staff by increasing the number of CTE programs and adding AP courses to the curriculum. In her much-deserved retirement, Molly plans to focus on being a grandmother, as her son and his wife are expecting.

Niles High School’s new principal, Michelle Asmus, has been with the district for 22 years, and we could not be more pleased to have her step into the role. She is a graduate of Niles High School, and in 2000, she joined Niles Community Schools as a second-grade teacher at Howard-Ellis Elementary. After four years teaching, she was named assistant principal at Howard-Ellis, and she became the school’s principal in 2010. During her time with Howard-Ellis, Michelle implemented several programs to benefit students’ academic, social and emotional well-being. These programs will continue under Melissa Rough, interim principal at Howard-Ellis Elementary, and the eventual permanent replacement.

Michelle is the epitome of what it means to be a Niles Viking, and as the high school’s principal, she will build upon Molly’s accomplishments and legacy. Students and families who attended Howard-Ellis Elementary will be familiar with Michelle and her dedication to education. We look forward to having her be a part of your family’s educational journey – whether this is the first time you have the pleasure of working with her or a reunion years in the making.

Our entire school community has worked tirelessly this year to ensure that we were able to provide students with the high-quality education and services they need. We are thankful for the district’s families, who supported their children and helped keep our community safe by monitoring their symptoms to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks. Teachers and staff have remained dedicated and focused on ensuring our students’ needs are met, and community partners have come out in full force to do what they can to support the cause. As I reflect on the year and look back at what I am grateful for this holiday season, our school community and those that we have the pleasure of serving are at the top of the list.

On behalf of Niles Community Schools, thank you for making 2021 a triumph. I look forward to continuing our partnership in 2022 and beyond. I wish you a safe and relaxing holiday surrounded by loved ones. As always, Go Vikes!

Dr. Dan Applegate is the superintendent at Niles Community Schools.