Middle School: A Place to Belong and Become
Presenter: Patti Kinney, Laurie Barron

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If we reduce down what research tells us about quality middle level education, two concepts rise to the top—belonging and becoming. Schools must be places where students feel they belong and are both respected and valued. They must also be places where students can become, where their academic and personal potential is recognized and nurtured. Based on the AMLE book of the same name, the authors, both award-winning former middle level principals, will share practical strategies they used to ensure their schools were a place where students could both belong and become.

Patti Kinney
Expertise gained from a career spent in Oregon public education; extensive volunteer leadership service in multiple educational associations at the local, state and national level; and her experience as a member of the professional development department of the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) enables Patti to share practical, realistic strategies with her audiences. She has keynoted and presented for state departments of education, affiliates of AMLE, NASSP and NAESP, and for individual schools and districts in 41 states, 2 Canadian provinces, and Australia. She believes that effective professional development focuses on developing reflective practitioners who possess the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary to create a safe, caring, and positive school culture; improve student learning; and promote student academic success and personal development. Patti began her career as an elementary music specialist and then taught fifth and sixth grade in an elementary school. She later taught sixth and seventh grade at the middle level when her district made the transition to middle school in the mid-80s. During this time, she was also involved in professional development work for her district, taught a variety of instructional and management skills classes, and took a one-year sabbatical leave to teach in the education department of Southern Oregon University. As an assistant principal and later principal of Talent Middle School, she was highly involved in the process to transform this former 7-8 junior high school into a 6-8 middle school, and in 2000, the school was recognized as one of "100 highly successful middle schools" in a national research study sponsored by NASSP.

Mrs. Kinney is a past president of the Association for Middle Level Education and of the Oregon Middle Level Association. In 2007, she was awarded the Oregon Middle Level Association's first Distinguished Service Award that was also named in her honor. In 1996, she was named the Oregon Assistant Principal of the Year, in 2002 she was the Oregon Middle Level Principal of the year, and in 2003 she was selected as the Met-Life/NASSP National Middle Level Principal of the Year. From 2007-2014, she served as associate director of middle level services for the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) located in Virginia.

Patti has spoken, presented, and consulted on a variety of educational issues at the national and international level, on topics including leadership, school improvement, quality instruction, building a positive climate and culture, educating young adolescents, and more. She co-authored Middle School: A Place to Belong and Become (AMLE) and What Parents Need to Know About Common Core (Incentive Publications) with Laurie Barron; Voices of Experience: Perspectives from Middle Level Leaders (AMLE/NASSP) with Sue Swaim; The What, Why, and How of Student-Led Conferences (AMLE) with Jack Berckemeyer; and authored Fostering Student Accountability through Student-led Conferences (AMLE/NASSP). She earned her B.A. in elementary education and M.A. in outdoor education from Southern Oregon University and her administrative license from the University of Oregon.
Laurie Barron
Dr. Laurie Barron is in her 23rd year in education, serving as a high school English teacher, a middle school assistant principal, and nine years as a middle school principal. Since 2013, she has served as the superintendent of the Evergreen School District in Kalispell, Montana. Barron holds a BSEd in English Education from the University of Georgia, an MEd in Supervision and Administration from the University of West Georgia, and an EdS and EdD in Educational Leadership from the University of Sarasota. She also studied abroad at Oxford University. She holds national superintendent certification through AASA, is a National Board Certified Teacher, was honored as Teacher of the Year and STAR Teacher, and is the 2013 NASSP/MetLife National Middle School Principal of the Year. Barron co-authored Middle School: A Place to Belong and Become (2017) and What Parents Need to Know about Common Core and Other College- and Career-Ready Standards (2015) as well as numerous education articles. Barron is a national speaker who provides motivation and professional learning to teachers and administrators through promoting student engagement and voice, shared leadership, data-driven decision making, standards-based assessment, and inclusive teaching and learning environments. Most importantly, Barron believes that building relationships with staff and students while celebrating what staff and students do right is the key to success in any school.
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