Donis Toler welcomed students to Scioto High School on Monday for the first time.

Donis Toler welcomed students to Scioto High School on Monday for the first time.

Toler was chosen as the Hard Road high school's principal last spring; the school's sole principal, Marina Davis, died of a stroke last December and Coffman High School's former principal Tracey Miller filled in for the rest of the year.

Toler, who left a position as principal at Groveport Madison High School, said taking a spot in Dublin was an obvious choice.

"To be honest, Dublin City Schools obviously are some of the very top schools in Ohio. Academically, they're second to none," he said, during a break from freshman orientation. "When a position comes open in an elite district like Dublin, everyone wants to throw their hat in the ring."

Toler was appointed principal of Groveport Madison High School in 2006. He began his teaching career in Columbus City Schools at Beechcroft High School, where he taught physical education.

Going into school administration became an aspiration while teaching.

"In life, everybody has goals and when you're a teacher, you're touching just the kids you have (in class). To make a bigger impact you've got to get into administration," Toler said.

The Dublin school board approved a two-year contract with Toler in April; Toler said before school let out, he spent time transitioning between the districts and getting to know staff.

"In the summer, I met with almost every teacher and support person for about 10 minutes a piece," he said, adding that staff members could voice concerns, ask questions and just get to know him. "This has been going on since the end of April. It's not something I had to do, but something I wanted to do."

Staff members brought up good questions and issues, Toler said, but he's not planning on any big changes at Scioto High School.

"One of my main goals and what I've learned from being in education so long is when you come into a new situation you have to be like a sponge. Then you assess and if something needs to be tweaked, then you tweak it," he said. "I have three things on my radar: one is to increase the numbers in the (International Baccalaureate program) and increase participation in AP classes. Another is making sure we reach and meet every student's need and make sure every student is attended to academically. Those are the three biggest things."

Toler said Davis built an excellent foundation for Scioto High School and he recognizes what staff and students have been going through with the loss of Davis and two students last year.

"First off, I want to recognize and embrace the difficulties in the last year," he said. "But at the same time we can't forget that we have to move forward I understand the trials and tribulations they're going through, but we're here for you. It's like a family atmosphere."