Collegiate Middle Level Association:
An Historical Perspective
CMLA Advisory Chair
The Collegiate Middle Level Association currently has 31 chapters. These 31 chapters represent a growing number of colleges and universities who are now preparing teachers to teach young adolescents in American's middle schools. This would have been an unthinkable dream for a handful of college students in the middle school teacher education program at the University of Northern Colorado who were trying to create a national organization for students preparing to become middle school teachers in 1988. At that time there were only 18 states that had middle school certification or endorsement as opposed to 46 states today. In 1988 middle school teacher education programs were the exception rather than the rule. Even more rare were middle school teacher education programs with active student organizations. As the decade of the 90s began there were only four higher education institutions that had active middle school student groups, University of Northern Colorado, Northern Iowa University, Illinois State University, and Appalachian State University.
In 1989, under the leadership of Ned Gilardino, a UNC student, a constitution was drafted and the Student Association for Middle Education (SAME) was born. Its name was later changed to Collegiate Middle Level Association (CMLA). That same year CMLA made a presentation to the NMSA (now AMLE) Board of Trustees. The Board recognized CLMA and agreed to help finance them by sharing a percentage of the membership fee of all college students who joined NMSA (now AMLE) and had an interest in also becoming a member of CMLA. However, joining by individual membership did not provide the stability that was needed to help the association grow. In fact, when the elections were held the officers often came from several different campuses which made it difficult to conduct the business of the association.
Then, in 1995 two significant events occurred that moved CMLA to a new level. First, NMSA (now AMLE) recognized CMLA as an official affiliate member, joining other state middle school associations. Secondly, CMLA moved from an individual membership to a chapter membership. The constitution underwent major revisions that not only changed membership from individual to chapter membership, but also changed how the association would be financed and governed. An advisory board was established consisting of the chapter advisors of all the member chapters. The officers were now elected from one campus that applied and was approved by the Advisory Board to be the host site for a two year term. Financing was more closely aligned with NMSA (now AMLE). The association was able to have two annual meetings rather than just meeting at the NMSA/AMLE annual conference.
At first CMLA grew slowly under this newly revised structure. However, as more states legislated middle school teacher licensure and more colleges and universities began to develop middle school teacher education programs, CMLA provided an ever increasing number of prospective middle school teachers the opportunity to become professionally involved as middle level educators.
The following colleges and universities have been leadership host sites for CMLA since the new restructuring: Morehead State University (2011-2013), Otterbein University (2009-2011), Georgia College & State University (2007-2009), University of Dayton (2005-2007), Ashland University (2003-2005); Appalachian State University (2001-2003); Central Michigan University (1999-2001); Missouri Southern University (1997-1999); and Illinois State University (1995-1997).