Steve Retzlaff began his career in education 26 years ago as a Teach For America Corp member, in the South Bronx. As a student who struggled in school himself, he always sought out strategies to engage, connect, and inspire students. Steve quickly learned that the better students understood his expectations, the more engaged and connected they were to their learning.
Throughout his career, Steve has worked as a Special Education teacher, a regular classroom teacher of Language Arts and Social Studies, a counselor, Dean, Assistant Principal, interim Superintendent, and for the last seventeen years as the Principal of Ashland Middle School. Steve loves the middle school age and has spent his entire career working with middle school students and staff at four different schools in three different states.
Over the past nine years Steve has worked with the staff at Ashland Middle School to move from a culture of ambiguity and student compliance to a culture of learning. This work to identify standards-based Essential Learnings and the discrete Supportive Learnings that define them, write better rubrics to communicate clearly defined expectations, and successfully move forward with Standards-Based Grading and Reporting, has revolutionized the way students are learning at AMS!
Steve has enjoyed leading professional development with over 1000 educators, presenting this work at conferences for the Association for Middle Level Education, the University of Southern Maine, the University of Southern Oregon, the Oregon School Board Association, and the Coalition of Oregon School Administrators in states across the country including Maine, Texas, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Missouri, and Florida.