Who We Are
We created SES SmartScore™ because we're passionate about making learning transparent, explicit, and accessible to all students!
Created by educators. Driven by teachers.
Katherine Holden (founder) taught high school for ten years and middle school for three years before becoming the Associate Principal at Ashland Middle School. In her role as AP for seven years she spearheaded a variety of change efforts and provided trainings and support to staff in the areas of grading reform and Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. Throughout this time Katherine was part of a collaborative coalition of teachers and administrators who planned, developed, and implemented schoolwide change transitioning her site to a standards-based grading and reporting system based on a framework of Essential Learning Rubrics. In recognition of this work, Katherine was named the 2022 National Assistant Principal of the Year.
Katherine has been sharing this work at conferences across the country in Maine, Texas, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Florida, Missouri, and Tennessee and has led professional development for over 1000 educators. She has presented for the Association for Middle Level Education, Learning Forward, the University of Southern Maine, the University of Southern Oregon, the Oregon School Board Association, and the Coalition of Oregon School Administrators, as well as others. She has led ongoing professional development focused on writing clear and explicit rubrics across all content areas and student habits at Ashland Middle School, Rogue River Elementary School, and Talent Middle School. Through this work she has created many tools including a “Rubric for Rubrics,” the “Rubrics Dos and Don’ts,” and the “Rubrics Facilitator’s Checklist.”
Katherine has also served on the Board of Directors for Madrone Trail Charter School, the John Muir Magnet School, and the Oregon Middle Level Association. She is currently the Principal of Talent Middle School.
Steve Retzlaff (founder) 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.
Jim Westrick (founder and CEO) has been an educator for more than 31 years. He first started teaching in the Peace Corps in Kenya, East Africa. While primarily a high school science teacher, Jim has taught classes in every grade level, K-12, and served as a high school administrator. His work through a previous company, Collaborative Learning, Inc. sent him across the country to support dozens of schools and districts as they worked to map their curriculum and align to standards.
Most recently, Jim served for nine years on the Board of Education for the Ashland School District in Ashland, OR. He holds both teaching and administrative licenses in Oregon and earned a masters degree in education administration. In 2021, he was appointed by the governor to serve on the Fair Dismissals Appeal Board for the state of Oregon. Jim and his wife have three grown children and live in Ashland.
Rich Westrick (President and COO) has years of experience starting, growing, and running efficient businesses and coaching management teams. In addition to his passion for growing businesses, creating culture, and coaching executives, he believes that education is the means by which people of all socio-economic levels can rise to a better quality of life. Working in the education space where he can help reach thousands of teachers to improve student learning aligns his passions for both business and education.