School & District Management

Oregon Educator Named Assistant Principal of the Year

By Denisa R. Superville — April 07, 2022 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Katherine Holden, a seventh-year assistant principal at Ashland Middle School in Ashland, Ore., was named this week as the Assistant Principal of the Year by the National Association of Secondary School Principals.

Katherine Holden, assistant principal of Ashland Middle School, Ashland, Ore.

Holden, who taught at Ashland High School for 10 years and at the middle school for three before becoming an AP in 2015, hadn’t considered leadership until her school’s principal and the school leader at her daughter’s elementary school urged her to think about administration.

Holden took a stint as principal for a time in 2020 when her principal became the district’s interim superintendent. She was also tested that same year when the school became a haven for families from Ashland and neighboring communities displaced by a disastrous wildfire.

She shared some of her thoughts on serving in those roles during the pandemic and some tips for assistant principals from her experiences. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

On how the AP role changed during the pandemic

Many of us become assistant principals because we are drawn to the work, because we love to organize, we love to plan, we love to anticipate. I think a lot of us love to do our jobs well.

See Also

 teachers and leaders looking around for direction
Mykyta Dolmatov/iStock/Getty Images Plus

The pandemic took a lot of the fun out of that. I felt myself doing all sorts of things I had never done in the past: learning all the technology— literally learning that so that I could then support staff members and teachers across the district with that new skill. Helping problem-solve the incidental tech pieces, going into [the] classroom, connecting cords, adjusting cameras, doing demonstration videos.

If my job shifted some, it was also because I was providing much more family resources and connections with families, in more personal ways — making sure that students had basic materials at home so that they could complete their school work. Being more of a kind of community-based resource center than we had been in the past. My role also shifted to providing more support for teachers and staff who were just having the biggest challenge of their lives.

On how APs can get the most of their experience

The advice I would give is just to have a growth mindset, bring forth your ideas. Keeping your focus on what’s best for students, each individual student, but also bringing forward creative ideas I think [are] great ways to approach your principal, because they will see that you are a forward-thinker and you are bringing a lot of helpful ideas and information to the table.

The advice I would give is just to have a growth mindset, bring forth your ideas.

One example of that was that when the State of Oregon passed their first guidance around transgender students. I think it was back in my first or second year of being an assistant principal. I saw that as an opportunity to research different organizations that were working with LGBTQ+ students and had some templates and plans. Through that, I was able to develop an Ashland Middle School personal education plan that supported transgender students, that helped us format our process for talking to students about what was important to them, what their preferred pronouns and preferred names were, etc.

Seeing that opportunity and wanting to make sure we had the best possible process for working with our students was an example of when you see an opportunity to move forward with that.

On why school should be fun

I have a lot of fun at my job. I had a lot of fun being part of a school community, and, similarly, I want students to feel being at Ashland Middle School is a place where they feel safe, where they’re connected to peers and are connected to their teachers, and that even they would agree that they are having fun on a daily basis—whether that’s laughing in a classroom, whether that’s connecting with peers at lunchtime playing a game.

Of course, this job can be hard. There’s a lot of hardship that comes up with supporting this many families, this many students. But I think if we’re not also connecting with each other in really positive ways, then it’s not sustainable. Even this recognition this week has been a breath of fresh air for all of us to have a big reason to celebrate and a lot of reasons to smile and laugh together. We have fun together, we laugh together, we all celebrate each other.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Budget & Finance Webinar
The ABCs of ESSER: How to Make the Most of Relief Funds Before They Expire
Join a diverse group of K-12 experts to learn how to leverage federal funds before they expire and improve student learning environments.
Content provided by Johnson Controls
Science K-12 Essentials Forum How To Teach STEM Problem Solving Skills to All K-12 Students
Join experts for a look at how experts are integrating the teaching of problem solving and entrepreneurial thinking into STEM instruction.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Modernizing Principal Support: The Road to More Connected and Effective Leaders
When principals are better equipped to lead, support, and maintain high levels of teaching and learning, outcomes for students are improved.
Content provided by BetterLesson

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School & District Management Opinion Principals: Supporting Your Teachers Doesn't Have to Be Such Hard Work
Principals can show teachers they care by something as simple as a visit to their classrooms or a pat on the back.
12 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."
iStock/Getty
School & District Management From Our Research Center Nearly Half of Educators Say Climate Change Is Affecting Their Schools—or Will Soon
Most educators said their school districts have not taken any action to prepare for more severe weather, a new survey finds.
6 min read
Global warming illustration, environment pollution, global warming heating impact concept. Change climate concept.
Collage by Gina Tomko/Education Week and iStock/Getty Images Plus
School & District Management Opinion 7 Ways Principals Can Support Teachers
Listening more than talking is one vital piece of advice for school leaders to help teachers.
13 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."
iStock/Getty
School & District Management What Schools Can Do to Tackle Climate Change (Hint: More Than You Think)
For starters, don't assume change is too difficult.
7 min read
Haley Williams, left, and Amiya Cox hold a sign together and chant while participating in a "Global Climate Strike" at the Experiential School of Greensboro in Greensboro, N.C., on Friday, Sept. 20, 2019. Across the globe hundreds of thousands of young people took the streets Friday to demand that leaders tackle climate change in the run-up to a U.N. summit.
Haley Williams, left, and Amiya Cox participate in a Global Climate Strike at the Experiential School of Greensboro in Greensboro, N.C., in September 2019.
Khadejeh Nikouyeh/News & Record via AP