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Ashland Middle School administrator selected 2022 Oregon Assistant Principal of the Year

SALEM, Ore. – Katherine Holden, Assistant Principal of Ashland Middle School, has been named the 2022 Oregon Assistant Principal of the Year.  Holden was selected by her peers in the Oregon Association of Secondary School Administrators (OASSA), and is now one of 50 finalists for the National Assistant Principal of the Year award.

Since 2015, Holden has served as the Assistant Principal at Ashland Middle School, where she has always championed student achievement. Over the course of several years, she spent hundreds of hours working closely with teachers, assisting them to better understand the standards, supporting their authorship of clear and explicit rubrics, and ultimately implementing a school wide system that reformed the way teachers teach and students learn at AMS.  

When the Ashland district’s superintendent resigned unexpectedly in the spring of 2020, Holden was asked to provide district leadership to help guide all Ashland schools through the turbulent transition to Comprehensive Distance Learning.  Her ability to anticipate, organize, and facilitate placed her in the unique position of managing her duties as an Assistant Principal, acting Principal of the middle school, and the districtwide Schooling Through COVID Coordinator.  

Along with AMS staff, Holden participated in several Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion trainings.  When the resources to support these trainings were exhausted, she knew the school needed to continue the work and refused to let the lack of funding stand in the way. She came forward and challenged the school to continue to grow and evolve. She began to research and learn more about EDI, attend additional trainings, and develop powerful EDI professional development which she has facilitated for staff over the last three years. 

AMS Principal Steve Retzlaff commented, “Katherine is ALWAYS learning, welcomes feedback, and challenges herself daily to be the best educator she can possibly be. Katherine thrives on professional growth and it is her love of learning that drives her to help others grow and learn as well.”

“Katherine’s leadership during the pandemic – along with her leadership and commitment to staff development on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion – are admirable and noteworthy,” COSA Executive Director Craig Hawkins said.  “Katherine is an example for all Oregon school leaders, and we are proud to recognize her as our 2022 Oregon Assistant Principal of the Year.”

Holden is a product of the Ashland School District, graduating from Ashland High School. She began teaching at Ashland High School in 2000 where she taught for ten years at the Wilderness Charter School, a school within AHS focused on sustainability, community, and project-based learning.  In 2012. Holden joined the AMS staff where she taught and served as a Teacher on Special Assignment, helping spearhead the Proficiency-Based Grading and Reporting initiative at AMS.  

Holden will be honored at the Oregon Principals Conference in Bend in April, and at the annual COSA Seaside Conference in June.  She will also be honored by the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP).

Holden is currently the president of the Oregon Middle Level Association (OMLA).

About COSA and OASSA

The Coalition of Oregon School Administrators (COSA) serves and represents more than 2,600 school administrators, managers and executives.  COSA was founded in 1974 to give Oregon's education leaders a united voice in helping to shape public policy, advocate for schools and speak on behalf of students. In addition to advocacy, COSA supports and develops educational leaders with professional development opportunities, a licensure and degree program, and advocacy on education policy and school funding.  COSA is governed by an elected Board of Directors that represents the COSA Equity Board and organization's four Departments: the Oregon Association of School Executives (OASE), the Oregon Association of Secondary School Administrators (OASSA), the Oregon Elementary School Principals Association (OESPA) and the Oregon Association of Central Office Administrators (OACOA).  For more information, visit