Leadership Team


Executive Committee

Contact us: middlelevelsig@gmail.com

Kathleen Brinegar Kathleen Brinegar, Chair (2022-2024)
University of Vermont

Kathleen M. Brinegar is senior lecturer at the University of Vermont where she serves as the program coordinator of the middle level teacher education and the curriculum and instructor masters programs. She is co-editor of Middle School Journal, the current chair of the Middle Level Education Research Special Interest Group (MLER SIG), and a member of AMLE’s Research Advisory Council and Equity Constituency Committee. Her research focused on equity and culturally sustaining pedagogies in middle level education and teacher education more broadly is published in venues such as Teaching & Teacher Education, Middle Grades Review, Research in Middle Level Education Online, and Middle Grades Research Journal. She is a co-editor of Equity and Cultural Responsiveness in the Middle Grades, a handbook in The Handbook of Research in Middle Level Education series.

Lisa Harrison Lisa Harrison, Program Chair (2022-2024)
Ohio University 

Dr. Lisa Harrison is an Associate Professor in the Department of Teacher Education at Ohio University where she serves as the Middle Childhood Education Program Coordinator.  Dr. Harrison is co-editor of Middle School Journal, and is a member of the Association for Middle Level Education Board of Trustees. She also is the chair of the Professional Preparation Advisory Committee for AMLE. Her research interests are in socio-cultural issues relating to young adolescent development, equity-oriented teacher education, and teaching for social justice. Previous to entering higher education, Dr. Harrison taught middle school mathematics in Brooklyn, NY.

Pettit Headshot Stacie Pettit, Vice Chair (2022-2024)
Augusta University

Stacie K. Pettit, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor in the Department of Teaching and Leading at Augusta University. She serves as the Middle Grades Program and Masters in Education in Instruction Program Coordinator and Collegiate Middle Level Association advisor. In 2019, she received the Outstanding Professor of Middle Level Education Award from the National Association of Professors of Middle Level Education. Dr. Pettit received her degrees from the University of Georgia in Middle School Education and has 20 years of experience teaching middle school or in higher education. Her research interests involve meeting the needs of marginalized young adolescent populations. She is an executive board member and AMLE affiliate liaison for the Georgia Association of Middle Level Education (GAMLE).

Miller Nicole C. Miller, Treasurer and Webmaster (2022-2024)
Mississippi State University

Dr. Nicole C. Miller is an Associate Professor of Middle Level Education  at Mississippi State University in the Department of Curriculum, Instruction, and Special Education. She engages in research activities focused on middle level education, middle level teacher preparation, technology integration, and teaching with primary sources.  Dr. Miller teaches the only middle level education course. She is also currently the SIG’s webmaster and regularly attends and presents at AERA and AMLE. Dr. Miller  has reviewed for the Middle School Journal, for the Middle Grades Research Journal, and AERA conference proposals for the SIG. Previously, she worked as a social studies and educational technology teacher at a Los Angeles middle school.

Smith Kristie Smith, Secretary (2022-2024)
Gardner-Webb University, GA

Kristie W. Smith, Ph.D. is a long-time middle grades educator and teacher educator. Kristie has rich experiences in the P-12 classroom, serving a broad range of students and across diverse communities, mostly in the Atlanta metro area. Kristie also has a strong background in the leadership of teacher professional development. In her university work, Kristie has served Mercer University, Atlanta as a middle grades/secondary literacy education adjunct and Minnesota State University, Mankato as an Assistant Professor of Communication Arts and Literature. Kristie’s current academic appointment is as an Assistant Professor of Curriculum and Instruction at Gardner-Webb University. Additionally, Kristie serves as Literacy Instructional Specialist for Gwinnett County Public Schools of Georgia.

Kristie is an active member of AMLE, AERA, and NCTE. Kristie’s professional 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.

Caskey Photo Micki Caskey, Executive Advisor (2022-2025)

Micki M. Caskey, Ph.D., is professor emerita in the College of Education at Portland State University. She is a co-series editor of The Handbook of Research in Middle Level Education and The Handbook of Resources in Middle Level Education, past chair of the MLER SIG and AMLE’s Research Advisory Committee, and past editor of Research in Middle Level Education Online. Her research areas include middle grades education, doctoral education, and academic writing strategies. She has experience as an associate dean for academic affairs, doctoral program director, writing coach, and teacher educator. Micki also has experience as co-principal investigator of four U.S. Department of Education, Office of Indian grant-funded projects that support American Indian/Alaska Native teachers or administrators. She is the author or editor of more than 15 books and numerous peer-reviewed publications who continues to share her scholarly work and ideas at regional, national, and international conferences. Notably. Micki is a former middle school teacher who taught young adolescents in urban settings for more than 20 years.

Cheryl Ellerbrock Cheryl Ellerbrock, Immediate Past Chair (2022-2024)
University of South Florida

Dr. Cheryl Ellerbrock is Associate Professor of Middle Grades and General Secondary Education and Dean of the College of Education at the University of South Florida’s Sarasota-Manatee Campus. She has authored over 40 publications that center on ways to promote responsive secondary school experiences for young adolescent learners. In 2022, she co-edited a book published by Routledge titled, “Middle Level Teacher Preparation Across International Contexts: Understanding Local and Global Factors Influencing Teacher Education” and in 2014 she co-edited another book published by Teachers College Press entitled, “Talking Diversity with Teachers and Teacher Educators: Exercises and Critical Conversations Across the Curriculum.” At USF, Dr. Ellerbrock teaches a variety of undergraduate and graduate courses in middle level and general secondary education. Dr. Ellerbrock has served as the principal investigator of a large middle grades STEM teacher preparation grant and currently serves as the principal investigator of another grant centering on middle level literacy. In 2022 she won NAPOMLE’s Outstanding Professor of Middle Level Education award along with the

Margaret Burlington Tritle Excellence in Teaching Award. In 2016 she won the Paul S. George Award in Recognition of Leadership and Service for the Advancement of Middle School Level Education in the State of Florida and in 2011 she was the recipient of USF’s Outstanding Undergraduate Teacher of the Year award. She currently serves as Immediate Past Chair for the MLER SIG, member of Association for Middle Level Education’s Research Advisory Committee, Secretary and Collegiate Representative of the Florida League of Middle Schools, and the Southern Regional Director for the National Association of Professors of Middle Level Education.

SIG Association Council Members

Gayle Andrews, Council Member (2022-2024)
University of Georgia

Gayle Andrews is Professor of Middle Grades Education and former Department Chair in the Department of Educational Theory and Practice at the University of Georgia. Her research focuses on equity-oriented teacher education that advances justice in middle grades education, with the goal of developing educators’ capacities as critical change agents. She is a former member of the AMLE board of trustees and past president of the National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform. She is the recipient of AMLE’s highest award, the John H. Lounsbury Award for Distinguished Service. She served as Professor-in-Residence in a local middle school for 7 years. At the University of Georgia, she has received several awards for teaching, including the Richard B. Russell Award for Undergraduate Teaching, the Center for Teaching and Learning Senior Teaching Fellowship, and the Lilly Teaching Fellowship.

Amanda Wall, Council Member (2022-2024)
Georgia Southern

Amanda Wall is a professor in the Department of Middle Grades & Secondary Education at Georgia Southern University.

Toni M. Williams, Council Member (2022-2024)
University of South Carolina

University of South Carolina Dr. Williams is an associate professor in the Department Teacher Education. Her research and scholarship build on social justice, equity, culturally sustaining pedagogies in middle level teacher education. The goal is to re-center educational spaces for middle school students and the consequent impact it has on students’ learning.  She is committed to engaging and supporting pre-service middle level teacher candidates as they transition to novice middle school educators. Dr. Williams has published in a wide range of journals including Research in Middle Level Education, Western Journal of Black Studies, Journal of Negro Education and Urban Education. She is currently the editor of the Middle Grades Research Journal.

David Virtue David C. Virtue, Council Member (2022-2024)
Western Carolina University

David C. Virtue is the Taft B. Botner Distinguished Professor of Middle Grades Education at Western Carolina University (WCU). David teaches courses in middle grades education, pursues research focused on middle grades teacher preparation and credentialing and on the creation and implementation of person-centered curricula, and serves on the board of WCU’s middle grades lab school. David has been a member of the AERA MLER SIG throughout his career. He served as editor of the AMLE’s flagship journal, Middle School Journal (2009–2013), and he has served as editor of Research in Middle Level Education Online and as a member of AMLE’s Research Advisory Committee since 2014. David is editor of The International Handbook of Middle Level Education Theory, Research, and Policy (2020) and Dialogues in Middle Level Education Research 2020: Insights from the AMLE New Directions Roundtable Discussions (2022) and the coeditor of Middle Level Teacher Preparation across International Contexts (2022). Before his appointment at WCU, David was a professor of middle level education at the University of South Carolina (2003 – 2016) and chair of the Department of Instruction and Teacher Education (2013 – 2016) and he was professor and head of the Department of Curriculum and Teaching at Auburn University in Alabama.

Jessica DeMink-Carthew (2023-2025)
University of Vermont

Jessica DeMink-Carthew’s research centers on supporting middle school teachers in advocating for and creating developmentally responsive learning environments for young adolescents. Her current research focuses on social justice education, personalized learning, and proficiency-based learning as liberatory practices that can promote equity. She is an active advocate for middle grades education locally and nationally through her various roles as researcher, teacher educator, and community partner. She serves on the AMLE Research Advisory Council and is on the executive council of the AERA Middle Level Education Research Special Interest Group. She is an experienced middle grades educator who has taught in France, Michigan, and Hawaii and continues to love learning with and from middle grades students and teachers.


Hilary E. Hughes (2023-2025)
University of Georgia

Hilary Hughes is an associate professor in the Department of Educational Theory and Practice and the University of Georgia. Hilary is one of five faculty in the Middle Grades Program at UGA, and she teaches in the undergraduate, masters, and PhD programs. Her research interests center on justice-oriented teaching and learning in middle schools and middle grades teacher education, critical youth studies, and phenomenology as a philosophy and methodology.

Ebony Terrell Shockley (2023-2025)
University of Maryland

Ebony Terrell Shockley is the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies and Educator Preparation at the University of Maryland College Park. She studies underrepresented groups and their teachers in STEM, literacy, and exceptional education. Prior to her current position, Dr. Terrell Shockley also served as the first Diversity Officer of the College of Education and, at the same time, held the position of Director for the Office of Teacher and Leader Education in the Department of Teaching and Learning, Policy and Leadership. As a former district-level technology specialist, science coach, middle school science/ESOL teacher, and reading specialist, integrated approaches to rigorous and culturally responsive instruction remain at the center of her work.

Wally Keith Burgess, Graduate Student Representative (2022-2024)
University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Previous Leadership Team Members