Michelle Zundel


Photo credit: Katy Barnard

Sarah Bestor, Editor-in-Chief

The winds are blowing from the east and, like Mary Poppins, our Principal will now move on to improve other students’ lives. After five years at Ashland High School, Michelle Zundel has taken a job as Chief Academic Officer (CAO) for the Medford School District. The CAO leads all district academic improvement efforts and supervises and develops leadership skills of all principals. I would have to say that Zundel is more than qualified for this job.

Zundel was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. She attended Brown University for her undergraduate degree and Harvard University for her masters. Zundel taught an abundance of subjects in her years as a teacher, both in the United States and in Switzerland. Zundel has a husband of 23 years, who teaches at Crater High School. Together, they have two daughters, one about to finish her second year at Columbia University and the other who will be a senior at Ashland High School next year.

Over her 20 years here, Zundel has been an integral part of the Ashland School District. “I almost didn’t accept the position because it would mean leaving the staff, students, and families of Ashland High School,” Zundel said. After weighing the pros and cons, she decided to apply for the position. She interviewed on May 13th and was offered the job that same afternoon.

“I have always looked for positions where I felt I could do the most good for the greatest number of people,” Zundel explained when asked about her final decision to take the job. She went on to explain that the Medford School District has 13,000 students and 600 teachers. These people and their families have been blessed with the experience of having Zundel improve their schools. The Medford School District also has a semi-new superintendent who has only been in Medford for one year, Dr. Brian Shumate, who Zundel says “has a compelling vision for the Medford School District.”

Zundel has put her trust in the work of Erika Bare (current Assistant Principal) who will serve as the Interim AHS Principal while the school district does a nationwide search for a new principal. She sees a bright future for Ashland High School and I agree. There will be a building period and although we will be missing a gifted leader, AHS will continue to thrive.

As for her own future, Zundel said, “I hope to run a few half marathons in the next twelve months, and I may get to visit my daughter in Cuba.” She was not looking for a new job, but it is a quality career move for her and she seems excited.

I personally have had Zundel as my principal at Briscoe in kindergarten, at Walker and then for all four years of my high school experience. Not only has she been my principal, but she has also been an incredibly close family friend and second-mom figure for me. It has been my honor to have her as a role model. I am immensely proud of her and cannot wait to see what she does. Although the students and staff of Ashland High will miss you Michelle, you should remember a commonly spoken phrase here, “Once a grizz, always a grizz.”