Inaugural Conference First to Focus on Middle School

Sept. 28, 2005

by Lori Fogleman (254) 710-6275

Baylor University's School of Education will host the first state collegiate level conference for prospective middle school teachers in the history of the National Middle School Association (NMSA).

"Focus on the Middle" will be held Sept. 30-Oct. 1 at Baylor's Bill Daniel Student Center. Organized by the Baylor Collegiate Middle Level Association (CMLA), an affiliate of NMSA, conference participants from five Texas universities will discuss the unique qualities of middle school students and teachers who serve them.

Some 20 million diverse, rapidly changing 10-to-15 year olds enrolled in the nation's middle-level schools are making critical and complex life choices everyday, according to NMSA. As they navigate this difficult time in their lives, they are forming the attitudes, values and habits of mind that will largely direct their behavior as adults, experts say.

The Baylor CMLA was organized in 2003 to advocate for quality middle level education and to affirm the call to accept the challenges that pre-service teachers of this age group face. "We believe that middle school students deserve and need teachers who are educated in adolescent development and teaching strategies specifically geared to be effective with this age," said Sheila Gloer, lecturer in the department of curriculum and instruction and conference organizer. "University students who make the choice to seek teaching certification in Texas for fourth through eighth grades are unique in their passion to make a difference in the lives of students, who are beginning to make critical decisions that will affect the rest of their lives."

Ellen Berg, a middle school teacher and national leader in middle level education, will lead three sessions on Friday and Saturday. Berg was a sixth-grade communication arts teacher and team leader at Turner M.E.G.A. Magnet Middle School in St. Louis, one of four computer animation magnet schools. She moved over the summer to San Diego, where she now teaches eighth-grade language arts and social studies. She also is a leader in MiddleWeb, the online discussion and curriculum reform group affiliated with NMSA.

Berg will lead sessions at 8 p.m. Friday and at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Saturday. Saturday's conference sessions also will include a job fair from 9 to 10:30 a.m. with superintendents and other representatives from Texas school districts. All conference sessions will be held in the Bill Daniel Student Center.

"The Baylor chapter of the CMLA has worked hard to be able to host this first state conference designed to meet needs of Texas middle level pre-service teachers," Gloer said. "Our students have taken tremendous initiative in planning this conference, demonstrating that Baylor is taking the lead in educating the future leaders in the field of middle level education."

Gloer said the organization hopes to create a network of future teachers who will strive to provide the best educational experiences possible for students in fourth through eighth grades.

For more information, contact Sheila Gloer at (254) 710-7599

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