Ms. Ashford Encourages Students to Find Voice


Katie Ridings

With a little over one month down of the school year, Ms. Ashford settles into her role as head principal at PHS. “I like that the job will be different every day.”

Last school year, Dr. Dobrinic retired from being principal at Pattonville High School and the district hired Ms. Ashford for the role of head principal at the high school. Her resume includes head principal at Holman Middle School, teacher at the high school, and administrator at Pattonville’s Learning Center.
As the new principal, Ms. Ashford hopes to make a positive impact at Pattonville. She has goals set to create a better learning environment and to “support the students to get back on track with learning after the pandemic.” Her hope is to give students a smooth transition back into the routine of normal school after two years of interrupted learning and to be able to support the teachers after the past two years of flexible teaching.
Ms. Ashford wants the student body and staff to see her as “someone who is supportive, friendly, empathetic, and cares enough to respond.” Overall, Ms. Ashford aspires to be seen as an empathetic administrator who students and teachers can turn to in times of need.
Ms. Ashford has worked within the Pattonville School District for 17 years. She was a teacher at the high school in 2006 and 2007. “The opportunity to come back to the high school was the opportunity of a lifetime,” Ms. Ashford said.
After working at the Learning Center for five years, she found that she missed the school environment. She saw the principal position as a segue to further her career in the Pattonville School District. Ms. Ashford felt that being a teacher previously had drastically prepared her for this career at the high school. “This [being a teacher] has helped me understand the challenges that teachers have when working with students, and how I could aid them,” Ms. Ashford said. She also believes that her work in Student Services has helped her understand the unique situations of students and their families.
Having been exposed to different types of situations gave her “a broader lens of compassion and empathy.” Her job as Holman Middle School’s principal both prepared and inspired her the most for her current job. Her favorite thing about that job as head principal is that it is different every day. “When I come to Pattonville the only thing guaranteed is that I walk in the door and turn on my computer,” Ms. Ashford said. She doesn’t mind challenges and enjoys all of the busy days that come with the job. She said she is glad to be back in school and be able to talk with and interact with students again.
Ms. Ashford attended high school in University City and is still involved in their alumni program. During her high school years she was involved in a number of different activities including band, theater, and trying out for some athletics, as well.
Her high school, like Pattonville, had only had one high school in the district. Ms. Ashford believes that this has given her “a sense of loyalty and love for her school district.” She said she found her voice and opportunities to lead in high school through being involved rather than being the head person.
Ms. Ashford’s high school experience has affected the way she thinks high school should impact students. “I think kids should have a high school experience that allows them to find themselves within the school.”
From her perspective, students should be able to find their voice, interests, and passions. She hopes that the students at Pattonville also get to experience these things in the four years they are in high school.
Ms. Ashford wants the students at Pattonville to know “that I am a person.” She always brings a bright side into the mix when it comes to her job, hoping to “bring lightness to situations when things feel heavy in school.”
Ms. Ashford believes that hard work stems from having a positive attitude in situations. She likes to balance the hard work with fun to keep staff and students positive. She is a people person and is glad that Pattonville is back in school after two interrupted learning years. Ms. Ashford works hard in every aspect of her job and loves being able to come to school every day and work with the students and staff at Pattonville High School.
Ms. Ashford explained that she loves the community and school within Pattonville, and she looks forward to getting to know more about the students, staff, and school as a whole throughout the year.
Overall, Ms. Ashford wants the student body to know that she is here to support them throughout this school year. If you would like to learn more or contact Ms. Ashford, you can do so at the Pattonville High School Administration page.