The Middle Grades Institute faculty is comprised of dedicated middle grades teachers, university professors, and professional development experts, all of whom have first-hand experience teaching young adolescents. Their wide range of expertise includes school change, project-based learning, service learning, equity and diversity, technology, social justice, sustainability, and much more. Scroll below to get to know them!
Katy is an Assistant Professor of Education at Saint Michael's College. She has taught fifth grade at Stowe Elementary. Prior to teaching at Stowe Katy was a professional development coordinator at the University of Vermont, Tarrant Institute for Innovative Education where she conducted research about adolescent education and partners with schools to help them personalize learning, engage students, and participate in action research. She is the author of four books about education including most recently: Real and relevant: A guide to service and project-based learning (2017), and is a co-author of Personalized Learning in the Middle Grades (2019) as well as several chapters and articles. Katy was a classroom teacher for 17 years and regularly presents at state and national conferences. She is passionate about promoting student and teacher voice, engaging early adolescent students, sharing the power of service learning, and creating inclusive communities where joy, courageous conversations and kindness are the norm. She lives in central Vermont with her husband and two daughters and loves being outside with family and friends, listening to music, and jumping into Vermont ponds and lakes.
James is Professor and Chair of the Education Department at Saint Michael's College. He has been teaching at the Middle Grades Institute since 2004. Prior to coming to Vermont, James was a middle and high school science teacher in the San Francisco Bay Area where he earned his doctorate in educational policy and organization from the University of California, Berkeley. Currently, James teaches courses in middle grades organization, environmental education, and educational policy and research. He works extensively with Vermont teachers on personalized learning as a pedagogy for teaching social justice and sustainability. His research investigates the intersection of school reform initiatives and teacher implementation of those reforms in middle and high schools. James also serves as co-editor of the Middle Grades Review. When James is not involved in education, he enjoys hiking, backcountry skiing, and tending to his small organic farm.
Dr. Kristie W. Smith is a long-time middle grades educator and current Assistant Professor of ELA Education, Middle Grades, at Kennesaw State University. Kristie’s professional background includes nearly two decades of middle school teaching, instructional coaching, and professional development leadership. In her university work, Kristie has served both the Tift College of Education (Mercer University, Atlanta) and the Lounsbury College of Education (Georgia College and State University) as a middle grades/middle grades literacy education adjunct. Kristie’s professional appointments include assistant professorships at Minnesota State University, Mankato, Gardner-Webb University and Columbus State University. She is also an active member of AMLE, AERA, and NCTE. Kristie currently serves as a council member of the Middle Level Education Research SIG of AERA and as the CMLA, East Faculty Advisor for the Chapter-at-Large. Kristie’s scholarship passions include creative teaching practices, the scholarship of teaching and learning, literacy education as equity, and 21st century teacher development through culturally responsive, socially just frameworks
Lucie brings 30 years of experience in educational technology working with Vermont students and educators in K-12 and higher education. After more than 2 decades of classroom teaching, Lucie is now a freelance educator advancing digital equity and promoting creativity and innovation. Lucie is affiliated with the University of Vermont’s Tarrant Institute for Innovative Education and College of Education and Social Services. Several years ago, she gave up her apartment and moved into a 1983 vintage bus and now travels around the United States in search of creative convergences, bringing back the best of what she discovers to Vermont schools to support teachers in implementing best practices in maker-centered learning, design thinking, and more equitable learning opportunities. She looks forward to providing space for creating and making at this summer's Middle Grades Institute.
Jessica is Assistant Professor of Middle Level Education at the University of Vermont, where she also coordinates the Middle Level Education undergraduate and graduate programs. Her research centers on supporting middle school teachers in advocating for and creating developmentally responsive learning environments for all young adolescents. Her current research and teaching projects are focused on social justice education, personalized learning, and proficiency-based learning as liberatory practices that can promote equity in the middle grades. In partnership with middle school teachers, Jessica has been co-developing a “hands-joined learning” framework for personalizing project-based learning as well as a social justice curriculum for 6th grade Humanities. She has taught in Michigan, Maryland, France, and Hawaii and tries to maintain the aloha life by playing the ukulele every chance she gets.
Monica is Associate Professor of Education at Castleton University. She earned her Master's Degree in Education from Castleton and her Doctorate in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from the University of Vermont. A middle level educator for many years, she currently works with pre-service and practicing teachers in Castleton’s teaching licensure and leadership programs. Her research interests include best practices for young adolescents, international teacher education, equitable practices, educational technology, and positive, active engagement in leadership. Monica has been President of the Vermont Association for Middle Level Education and Vice-President of Changing Perspectives New England. She lives in Brandon, Vermont, with her delightful family, and she enjoys yoga and the great outdoors.
Meg teaches humanities to 7th and 8th grade students at Shelburne Community School in Shelburne, Vermont, where she has taught since 1994. Meg cherishes the opportunity to co-create meaningful learning experiences with students and colleagues, with a particular lens on opportunities that foster community and instill social justice and equity. Meg is passionate about middle level education, as demonstrated by her years in the practice, her commitment to partnering with students and colleagues, and her engagement in professional organizations that promote middle level practices. She is a long-time board member of the Vermont Association for Middle Level Education, a participant and practitioner at the Middle Grades Institute, and a regular contributor to PLP Pathways. She holds her national board certification as a middle level generalist. Meg lives in Richmond, Vermont with her patient husband Mark, two active sons, Evan and Sam, and an adoring cat named Thea.
Joe is a social studies teacher at Brattleboro Area Middle School. He is a member of a four-person teaching team. During a two year loop the team focuses on providing project oriented, place-based learning experiences for its students. Joe received his undergraduate degree from Saint Michael’s College and his graduate degree from Castleton State College. Joe is active in the Brattleboro Historical Society and serves on the editorial board of the professional journal, Middle Grades Review. He works with his students to produce a weekly radio show based on local history for WTSA FM. The shows are archived as podcasts on the Brattleboro Historical Society Soundcloud channel. Joe also collaborates with students and historical society board members to create a weekly local history articles for the Brattleboro Reformer. He lives with his family in West Brattleboro, Vermont.
Don is a humanities educator in his 16th year at Main Street Middle School in Montpelier, Vermont. Don is working hard to create an innovative, integrated, and dynamic learning environment for all students. His attempts to make education relevant include the development of curriculum tied to sustainability, social justice, integrated literacy, and technology. In addition to his classroom duties he is a co-director of PLP Pathways, adjunct instructor at Saint Michael's College, and a Nationally Board Certified Teacher. When not working on his craft, Don can be found spending time with his family enjoying Vermont's outdoor, cultural, and community offerings. He is an avid angler, reader, and runner who believes that, "It's not where you start, it's where you finish."
Kyle Chadburn currently serves as the Access & Opportunities Coordinator for the Orleans Central Supervisory Union in northern Vermont. He taught and co-taught middle level Humanities for 12 years, designing student-centered, personalized learning opportunities that incorporated student activism, focused on issues of social justice, and embedded student voice, choice, and collaboration. Kyle received his Master's Degree in Education, as well as a certificate in Holistic Restorative Education, from St. Michael's College. He has provided professional learning opportunities for fellow educators through his work with the Vermont Rural Education Collaborative, Vermont Higher Education Collaborative, the national Association for Middle Level Education, and the Vermont Association for Middle Level Education, of which he is a board member. Kyle lives in Coventry, Vermont with his wife Sarah and their two dogs, Riggins and Lyla. He enjoys performing as a musician, writing, and spending time in the woods.