Asher retiring at end of school year
By Heather Graves
SEYMOUR – After steering the ship in Seymour for nearly five years, Superintendent Laurie Asher has announced she will retire at the end of the 2021-22 school year.
“I am thankful that I was able to finish my 34-year career in education with the Seymour Community School District,” Asher said. “It was an honor and privilege to serve as their superintendent.”
Asher was selected for Seymour’s top job in 2017 when former Superintendent Pete Ross retired.
She was chosen for the position over, now West De Pere Superintendent Dennis Krueger.
Asher’s more than three decades in education include multiple roles throughout the state serving as a special education paraprofessional, elementary school teacher, elementary school principal, assistant superintendent and superintendent.
“I started teaching first grade for the Stevens Point School District,” she said. “I also taught grades 1-4 for the Oshkosh Area School District. I was also an elementary principal for the Oshkosh School District, as well as the Kimberly School District.”
Asher’s first district-level leadership role was as the director of teaching and learning and assistant superintendent in Kimberly.
“I left Kimberly to become the elementary principal/superintendent for the Laona School District and served there for four years,” she said.
Asher’s next leadership role took her abroad, to Africa, where she served as an early childhood principal at Narmer American College in Cairo, Egypt.
“My husband and I then moved to Egypt to become principals at an American/British school for a year,” she said. “I was the early childhood principal and oversaw both the British and American program for students aged 3-6. This was a great experience, but I knew I wanted to finish my career in a district in Wisconsin, and when the Seymour position became available, I decided to apply. I was very fortunate to be hired, so we moved back to Wisconsin.”
Asher grew up in Brussels and attended the Southern Door County School District.
She obtained her undergraduate degree in human development and a K-6 teaching certificate from University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.
She holds two master degrees – one in teaching from Viterbo University and the other in administration from Marian University.
She received her superintendent specialist’s degree from UW-Milwaukee.
Education is a family affair.
“All my siblings and their spouses are educators,” Asher said. “My two sisters are administrators for other districts in the state and their spouses are teachers.”
The School Board accepted Asher’s retirement in closed session Nov. 23.
“(I) decided to announce it now, so that the School District and School Board would have plenty of time to go through the hiring process before the end of the year,” she said.
Asher said now seemed like a good time to call it a career.
“The reason I chose to retire now is that my husband has been retired for six years, and we want to be able to travel and spend time visiting our family who live in Wisconsin, and also who live in various locations throughout the U.S,” she said.
Asher said she’s excited to see what this new life chapter brings.
“School has been a part of my life since I was 5,” she said. “So, it will be interesting the first day I find myself not having to come to school.”
Asher said though she’s excited to see what that looks like, she said she will miss the entire Seymour community.
“I have been blessed to work with a progressive and supportive Board of Education, a knowledgeable, administrative team, a collaborative group of talented teachers and staff, and a community invested in its children,” she said. “I have enjoyed watching our students grow and find their way towards becoming adults. I have always said, ‘No matter what is happening in your day, if you want to smile, just get out and visit a classroom.’ I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to be a part of the lives of so many young people for so long. It has been a joy of a lifetime to watch a diversity of students of all ages and backgrounds grow and learn as they pursue their interests and passions. I look forward to continuing to stay in touch and see all the good things that the district continues to do.”
The School Board will discuss hiring the next superintendent in the coming weeks.
With Asher’s retirement effective June 30, 2022, that leaves just more than six months for the search.
According to the Wisconsin Association of School Boards (WASB), the first step is creating a superintendent profile.
“I think the most important characteristic is to be a good listener,” Asher said. “As the leader you need to listen to all perspectives, understand the past and future and then work with the district and community to continue or put into place effective systems. By continuing to listen and reflect on the many conversations you have, it allows you to continue to lead for the future.”
According to WASB, costs for a superintendent search typically range from $8,000-15,000.