Leadership Team


Executive Committee

Contact us: middlelevelsig@gmail.com

Lisa Harrison Lisa Harrison, Chair (2024-2026)
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, Chair-Elect (2024-2026)
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).

Smith Kristie Smith, Vice Chair (2024-2024)
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.

Toni M. Williams, Secretary (2024-2026)
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.

Falbe Photo Kristina Nicole Falbe, Treasurer  (2024-2026)
Illinois State University

Caskey Photo Micki Caskey, Executive Advisor (2022-2026)

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.

Kathleen Brinegar Kathleen Brinegar, Past Chair (2024-2026)
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.

SIG Association Council Members

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.

Brooke Eisenbach (2024-2026)
Lesley University

Brooke B. Eienbach is an Associate Professor of Middle and Secondary Education at Lesley University. She is co-editor of Fostering Mental Health Literacy Through Adolescent Literature. Her research interests are in virtual middle grades education and enhancing adolescents’ mental health literacy through young adult literature. Prior to entering higher education, Dr. Eisenbach taught 7th and 8th grade English Language Arts. She still enjoys spending time in the classroom serving as a substitute teacher at her local middle school.

Rachel Ranschaert, (2024-2026)
University of North Texas

Mary Beth Shaeffer

Mary Beth Schaefer (2024-2026)
St. John’s University

Mary Beth Schaefer is Associate Professor of Adolescent Education in the Department of Curriculum & Instruction at St. John’s University in Queens, New York. Her passion is the middle grades, and she has been an active MLER SIG member since 2010. Her recent work inside of the SIG includes helping to draft a new version of the Research Agenda. Schaefer was a middle grades English teacher for five years in New York City and five years in Plano, Texas and currently teaches graduate-level courses focused on middle grades teaching and learning. She recently published in Research in Middle Level Education, The Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, English Teaching: Practice & Critique, and Middle Grades Review. Other recent outlets include Urban Education, Middle School Journal and a chapter in The Oxford Handbook of Young Adult Literature (forthcoming).  Her research interests center on young adolescent literacies; middle grade students’ college and career readiness; and martial arts literacies. She was a recent co-guest editor for The Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy (Nov/Dec 2022) and co-edited a book on parent-child research (2020).

Amy Walker (2024-2026)
Kent State University

Ashlee P. Highfill, Graduate Student Representative (2024-2026)
University of South Florida

Previous Leadership Team Members