Jim Asher Announces Retirement
Calls His Time at Burley Middle School the “Highlight of My Professional Career”
James “Jim” Asher, among the longest serving principals of Burley Middle School, announced on June 17, 2020 that he will retire this year. Asher was appointed as interim principal of the nearly 600-student school on July 1, 2012, and then appointed six months later as principal. Asher said his decision to retire followed a great deal of thought and discussion with his wife about their personal priorities at this time in their lives.
In an email to the Burley school community, he said, “When I was appointed the principal of our school back in 2012, it was clearly the highlight of my professional career. I have always considered Burley to be the most significant school not only in our division, but in the history of the greater Charlottesville and Albemarle communities. Over the years, as I became more closely acquainted with our school’s legacy, its students, and the lives of those community leaders who contributed to our school’s beginning and who taught here, my admiration reached even higher levels.”
Prior to his current position, Asher served three secondary schools in the division as an assistant principal, including CATEC, Monticello High School, and Walton Middle School.
“The secret of Jim’s success as an administrator,” said Dr. Clare Keiser, the division’s Assistant Superintendent for Organizational Development and Human Resource Leadership, “was apparent from his earliest application with the school division. He cited team efforts as the key to staff development and enthusiasm for student learning as the most important attribute of an outstanding teacher,” she said. He shared his views about the importance of focusing on learners each day in such publications as “50 Tips for Teachers,” and later, “50 More Tips for Teachers.”
In his community message he wrote, “These past eight years here at Burley have provided me with one astounding minute after another as I’ve walked the halls, visited our classrooms, joined in our community events, and seen our students develop as scholars and people. I want to thank all who have made this possible, from our staff members who bring so much dedication and imagination to learning, to our eager and talented students, and to our parents and community partners who are so supportive of our mission.”
Dr. Keiser said that to assist with the recruitment of a new principal, Asher has agreed to stay on beyond the traditional July 1 retirement date. The selection process for a new principal will include staff and community feedback through an online survey of qualities valued in a new leader. It also will include representatives from staff, students and parents to serve on a school-based interview panel to provide feedback to the Superintendent regarding the candidates interviewed. The goal, she said, is to have a successor in place by the time schools reopen.
“Jim Asher has been an outstanding educator for more than 20 years in our division, and we are grateful for his leadership and the ideas he brought forward for supporting students. He has shown tremendous respect for our school division values, no better demonstrated than by the reverence he had for Burley’s legacy,” Keiser said. “Jim has been an unrelenting advocate for what the school represented in its earliest days—an extraordinary place that set extraordinary standards for learning in its service to Black students prior to integration. His support of the school’s history and recognition of its leaders and alumni certainly typified our values of excellence, young people, community, and respect,” she added.