New Niles High School principal eager to lead youth

Published 9:37 am Friday, January 21, 2022

NILES — It has been a busy three weeks for Michelle Asmus.

The newly-minted Niles High School principal has hit the ground running and is enjoying every second.

“I am learning a lot,” she said. “The energy here is high, and there are so many activities students and teachers are involved in. It is busy, but I love it. I love seeing my former students and talking with their families.”

A Niles High School graduate, Asmus was the longtime principal at Howard-Ellis Elementary, having served in that position for 11 years. Asmus replaces Molly Brawley, who retired Dec. 31 after 37 years with the district.

“I never imagined that I would be working with secondary students,” she said. “I had always intended to be in elementary school but when the opportunity presented itself, I found myself intrigued and wanting to know more about it.”

The pandemic has taken a toll on students, teachers and parents alike. According to Asmus, her first day as principal reinforced how much the teachers and staff mean to the students.

“I send a video to the students every Monday,” she said. “The first week, I asked the students what they were most proud of at the school. Overwhelmingly, the responses were about teachers and how they’re so caring. They go above and beyond to make sure students understand something. They know how much the staff cares for them. That was a great way to start my time here.”

As for her goals in the years to come, Asmus aims to carry out the district’s vision of “Dynamic learners, diverse opportunities, driven to succeed.”

“There are so many different paths a student can take based on their interests,” she said. “I don’t know how many community members know that.”

Asmus also hopes to implement strategies she honed during her time at the elementary level, including seminar courses designed to help bridge the learning gap brought on by the pandemic.

“I feel the experiences I’ve had in elementary in terms of intervention can be of help,” she said. “We have Seminar on Fridays, which gives students two sessions to get assistance from teachers. We’re fortunate we’ve been able to work with the school improvement team to get Seminar built into the schedule every week to offer students opportunity for interventions.” 

Asmus’ connections to the district run deep. Her grandfather attended Niles and was a member of the 1942 state championship basketball team. For Asmus, choosing to work in a district that has provided her with a treasure trove of knowledge and experiences was only natural.

“I always knew I wanted to raise a family in Niles,” she said. “I wanted my kids around my grandparents, which led me back to the area. I feel that my kids will be taken care of in the district, not just because I know the teachers and staff here. Having my sons walk these halls and make memories similar to mine is really special. … My kids are fourth-generation Vikings.

It means a lot to not only me but my family. We are true blue Vikings.”