Academic journal article Middle School Journal

An Event and a Call to Action

Academic journal article Middle School Journal

An Event and a Call to Action

Article excerpt

An introduction to "The American middle school movement: Taking the long view" by Paul S. George.

On May 18-20, 2011, more than 100 of America's best and most experienced minds in middle level education gathered in Milledgeville, Georgia, for the Southeastern Regional Professors of Middle Level Education (POMLE) Symposium, "Celebrating the Legacy of the Middle School and Envisioning Its Future." This landmark meeting was held on the campus of Georgia College and State University where POMLE was founded in 1987.

In attendance were most of the pioneer leaders of the middle school movement whose works comprised the volume The Legacy of the Middle School: In Their Own Words, which was released at the symposium. This major publication chronicles the movement's history through transcripts of extensive interviews with the 20 founders and early leaders and includes introductory materials and two concluding chapters that summarize and identify goals to guide future developments. These chapters were written by Tracy Smith and Ken McEwin, the editors and directors of the Middle Level Education Legacy Project. In addition to the early leaders, major officials from professional associations, professors of education from institutions around the country, and other noted and established middle level educators participated.

The symposium offered an opportunity to reflect on the middle school movement's past and to consider actions that might reinvigorate the middle school movement, which, for the most part, has been forced to tread water during the NCLB era. More of a think-tank than a typical conference, it proceeded with topical, interactive sessions and working groups-no speeches.

In a dramatic opening session, Ken and Tracy brought to life 50 years of the middle school movement. All 20 of the early leaders were present in pictures and videos, if not in person. In an accompanying narrative, Tracy reviewed the past in words and images with each individual pioneer featured on the large screen and some of his or her own words spoken by that person or by a proxy. The special spirit and deep commitment that characterized the movement in the 70s, 80s, and 90s was rekindled as the past was made present.

At the celebration banquet that evening, there were words of welcome and brief comments by Joan Jarrett, NMSA president, before Nancy Ruppert, National POMLE president, recognized six individuals who were responsible for creating "first" distinctive middle level teacher preparation programs. …

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