Institute for Middle Level Leadership

Hilton Head, SC • June 16-19, 2019
Hilton Head Marriott Resort & Spa
San Diego, CA • June 23-26, 2019
Hilton San Diego Resort & Spa

A one-of-a-kind, collaborative learning event designed to meet the unique needs of middle school leaders.

Whether you are a tenured principal or a new teacher, attending for your first time or your fourth time, developing your skills or developing your team, this unique event flows to fit your needs and challenges.

Principals • Teachers • Superintendents
Counselors • Team Leaders • Instructional/Technology Specialists
District/Central Office • Higher Education

Save a Seat! Space is limited to the first 200 registrants for each location.
Include the AMLE Institute for Middle Level Leadership in your 2019 professional learning plan now!

Q:    Who should attend?


If you improve the educational lives of students ages 10-15, this event is specifically designed for YOU!

Q:    Why should I attend?


The AMLE Leadership Institute will help you and other middle school leaders create the most effective educational experience for every young adolescent you serve.

Q:    What will I learn at the AMLE Leadership Institute?
A:    One of the many things that makes the Institute so unique and powerful is content that is driven by YOU!

Event Schedule

Sunday: June 16, Hilton Head, SC / June 23, San Diego, CA
4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. Technology Kick-Off Session
5:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. Meet & Greet – Icebreaker/Link-up Activity
5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. Welcome and Dinner (included)
6:40 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. Home Base Meeting #1
Monday: June 17, Hilton Head, SC / June 24, San Diego, CA
7:15 a.m. – 8:15 a.m. Breakfast (included)
8:25 a.m. – 9:40 a.m. Content Breakout Session #1
9:50 a.m. – 11:05 a.m. Home Base Meeting #2
11:15 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Job Alike Session
12:10 p.m. – 1:10 p.m. Lunch (included)
1:20 p.m. – 2:35 p.m. Content Breakout Session #2
2:45 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Team-Building Special Mission
4:10 p.m. – 4:35 p.m. Individual or School Planning Time/
Faculty Open Office Hours
Tuesday: June 18, Hilton Head, SC / June 25, San Diego, CA
7:15 a.m. – 8:00 a.m. Breakfast (included)
8:10 a.m. – 9:25 a.m. Content Breakout Session #3
9:35 a.m. – 9:55 a.m. Open Space Activity
10:05 a.m. – 10:45 a.m. Open Space Session #1
10:50 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Open Space Session #2
11:40 a.m. – 12:40 p.m. Lunch (included)
12:50 p.m. – 1:35 p.m. Home Base Meeting #3
1:45 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Content Breakout Session #4
3:10 p.m. – 4:15 p.m. Show & Spark Speed Learning Session
4:15 p.m. – 4:40 p.m.
Individual or School Planning Time/
Faculty Open Office Hours
Wednesday: June 19, Hilton Head, SC / June 26, San Diego, CA
7:15 a.m. – 8:00 a.m. Breakfast (included)
8:10 a.m. – 9:25 a.m. Content Breakout Session #5
9:35 a.m. – 10:50 a.m. Content Breakout Session #6
11:00 a.m. – 11:25 a.m. General Session
11:30 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. Home Base Meeting #4

Session Formats

Learning your way! Participate in a variety of presentation formats including:

Technology Kick-Off: This session is a voluntary session supporting the digital tools being used throughout the Institute. Participants will have the opportunity to ask questions and practice with tools such as Google and Twitter in a judgement free, user friendly atmosphere. Participants will leave feeling more confident using these digital tools allowing for a better Institute experience.

Home Base Meetings: Similar to Homeroom or Advisory/Advisement at school, these small-group meetings will give you the chance to more deeply discuss and examine key middle school concepts and data that impact your school and leadership.

Content Breakout Sessions: You'll get a variety of content from AMLE middle school experts in these interactive, solution-rich sessions.

Show & Spark Speed Learning Session: During this session, you'll have the chance to shine a spotlight on the great ideas, programs, and initiatives at your school and learn from other attendees in a quick, personal setting!

Job-Alike Session: You'll meet and collaborate with attendees that share your job or role to discuss similar triumphs, challenges, and solutions.

General Session: During these engaging, whole-group sessions we'll examine the essential 16 characteristics of an effective middle grades program, discuss leadership actions that make those characteristics work, and explore This We Believe.

Individual or School Planning Time/Faculty Open Office Hours: Use this time to reflect on the learning from the day—individually, with a colleague, or with your team—and/or schedule a "shoulder-to-shoulder" work session with any of the Leadership Institute faculty members.

Open Space Sessions: Bring your critical issues and concerns, and then create sessions you need! Build the conference you want within the Institute, and get the answers you need to improve your school!

Team-Building Special Mission: Get energized and motivated during this special activity-filled session, in which you'll join other Institute attendees in games that create great teams, great laughs, and great camaraderie!

Meet the Facilitators

Our team of middle school experts facilitates learning at the Institute for Middle Level Leadership guided by the following principles:

  • Develop courageous, collaborative, compassionate, and reflective leaders.
  • Provide a safe space for taking the risks to implement the actions necessary to improve middle schools.
  • Create a personalized experience that is responsive to the needs of participants, school teams, districts, and state teams.
  • Foster an environment based on energy, humor, and humanity.

Tracey Abercrombie
*SC only

Bryan Boykin
*CA only

Denver Fowler
*SC only

David Hayward

Gail Heinemeyer

Linda Hopping

Ann McCarty Perez
*SC only

Cheryl Mizerny
*CA only

Juan Rodriguez

Ruthie Stevenson

Dru Tomlin
*CA only

Christine Toth
*CA only

Cheryl Mizerny is a veteran educator with more than 25 years of experience–most at the middle school level. She began her career in special education, became a teacher consultant and adjunct professor of educational psychology, and currently teaches sixth grade English in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. Cheryl writes about student motivation and engagement at The Accidental English Teacher and about teaching middle school in her blog "It's Not Easy Being Tween" for MiddleWeb.

Dr. Bobby Moore is known for high energy, engaging, and thought-provoking keynote addresses, presentations, and workshops. Moore has presented all over the country and internationally. As the former principal of a nationally recognized middle school and the author of the AMLE book Inspire, Motivate, Collaborate, he is recognized across the country as a thought leader in education. While serving as middle school principal, his school received visitors from all over the state to learn how one of the lowest funded districts in Ohio was also one of the highest performing, despite poverty and limited resources. During his time as a superintendent Bobby led his district to the highest rating of Excellent with Distinction, the very first time for the district, and to a ranking among the top districts in the state for student growth. For the last several years, Bobby led one of the largest school improvement collaboratives in the United States for the not-for-profit Battelle for Kids and has done extensive consulting with state departments of education and large urban districts. Bobby is currently president and CEO of the EPIC Impact Education Group and is the strategic partnerships and professional learning manager for AMLE. His areas of interest and expertise include leadership; emotional intelligence; high performing middle schools; positive school culture; motivating and engaging staff; leveraging time, talent, and resources (school scheduling); literacy; and character education. Follow Bobby Moore on Twitter: @DrBobbyMoore.

Dr. Neil Gupta is the director of secondary education for Worthington City Schools in Ohio. Neil has been an administrator for more than 10 years providing focused leadership and support to middle schools and high schools. He also serves as the past president on the board of directors for the Ohio Association of Secondary School Administrators. Neil has presented at state and national conferences on the topics of leadership principles and practices, legislative advocacy, standards and curriculum alignment, assessment practices, and data analysis. His main focus is providing team development strategies with a focus on data analysis, curriculum alignment, and strategic planning. Neil continues to engage with educational leaders face-to-face and in a virtual setting through Twitter (@drneilgupta), Google and Voxer. He co-moderates weekly Twitter chats for #ohedchat and #leadupchat and receives an enormous amount of attention on his Wordpress blog:

David Hayward has spent more than 20 years sharing his passion for education and technology, inspiring educators to integrate educational pedagogy with 21st century technology tools. He began his career as a classroom teacher in Toledo City Schools and within a few years accepted the position of educational technology trainer (ETT). As an ETT, his love for teaching and technology grew as he helped develop, teach, and facilitate the integration of technology in the classroom, providing individualized instruction to teachers and students as well as conducting district level technology workshops. In 2002, he moved to Columbus, Ohio, where he completed his M.A. in Technologies of Instruction and Media from The Ohio State University. That same year he accepted a position with a non-profit education technology agency in Ohio working with educators to share and build education technology practice in central Ohio. After 12 years of working through the agency inside and outside of schools, David felt the pull of the classroom again. Currently, he spends his days working as an Instructional Technology Coordinator of Junior High Schools in Pickerington Local Schools where he is part of a team working to implement the largest K-12 1:1 technology initiative in Ohio. David has presented at numerous state and regional conferences including being a keynote speaker at AMLE's Annual Conference. David is extremely proud and honored to be returning as a faculty member at this years Leadership Institute.

Gail was a teacher, assistant principal, and principal in the Ridley School District since 1972. In 2007, she moved to the central office as director of support services. Her responsibilities included conducting the district induction program; state reporting; overseeing child accounting and enrollment; coordinating student teacher assignments; supervising ESL, guidance, and nursing services; and managing the district website and cable TV.

Gail has been actively involved in both the state and national middle level associations. She has presented at Association for Middle Level Education (AMLE) national conferences. She is trained as a consultant for AMLE ’s School Improvement Assessment, is a member of their speaker’s cadre, and has been on the faculty of the AMLE Leadership Institute since 2003. Retiring from Ridley in 2017, she remains actively involved with AMLE and providing professional development to schools throughout the country.

Dru Tomlin is the principal of Heritage Middle School in Westerville, Ohio and is proud and passionate to serve his students, staff, and families every day. Dru was formerly the director of middle level services for the Association for Middle Level Education, and in that role, demonstrated a commitment to educational improvement and a passion for teaching, learning, and middle school. He began his work in the middle grades as a young adolescent at Lynnhaven Junior High School in Virginia Beach, trying to fit in with other kids while also playing tuba in the marching and concert bands. In 1994, Dru began his formal career in education as an English teacher at Harrisonburg High School in Virginia and then, in 1998, he discovered the joys of middle school in Georgia as a language arts, reading, and social studies teacher and then as a school administrator. He has also been a school system staff development trainer and a faculty member for AMLE's Leadership Institute, believing firmly in the power of professional learning. For his work, Dru has been recognized as a school system Teacher of the Year and as Georgia's Middle School Assistant Principal of the Year. He holds a Ph.D. in Teaching and Learning and a M.S. in Educational Leadership from Georgia State University, a B.A. in English/Secondary Education from James Madison University, and a Certificate of Perfect Attendance from Lynnhaven Junior High School.

Ann McCarty Perez, Ed.D., is the executive director of teaching and learning for the Bowling Green City Schools (Ohio). She is responsible for K-12 curriculum, instruction, and assessment. Her duties include overseeing federal programs, the district Ohio Improvement Process, professional development, student teacher placements, and other district programming. Since 1997, Ann has been a middle school music teacher, assistant principal, and principal at schools in Virginia and Ohio. In her various roles she has implemented curriculum writing activities, program and process reviews, responsive instruction, student behavior modification plans, coordinated projects to reduce truancy, increased student achievement, provided services for at-risk students, and collaborated with parents to create school community. Her committee work has included teacher evaluation system writing, digital learning, district-wide assessment and evaluation, capacity and facilities, special education advisory, literacy task force, equity, visual and performing arts; all of which have worked to influence policy and practices to improve the educational experiences of students. In 2014, Ann was a representative for The School Superintendents Association (AASA) where she traveled to China and attended the Jiangsu International Forum for School Principals. In addition to her work with AMLE, she has been an adjunct professor at George Washington University where she worked with aspiring school leaders on supervision of instruction. She is a passionate educator who believes in the process of continual improvement to provide students with the education they deserve.

Juan Rodriguez from Framingham, Massachusetts had been a principal of elementary and middle schools in urban and suburban schools for 27 years. Juan is currently serving as an evaluator of the administrator's licensure for the state of Massachusetts and has been a member of AMLE’s Leadership Institute Faculty since 2006. Juan was the Massachusetts Middle School Principal of the Year in 2005. His middle school had been designated a Spotlight School, a Compass School and the top performing middle school for ELL learners. Juan completed the National Institute of School Leadership program (NISL) and has been a mentor of principals. He has presented at national and state conferences on ELLs, leadership, school safety, and middle level organization. Juan was the coordinator of the Post Baccalaureate Teacher Licensure program at Framingham State University. He has been a member of the Massachusetts Secondary Schools Administrators Association Middle Level Committee and the Education Professional Standards Committee at FSU. Juan was recognized as a distinguished alumni and is currently serving as the vice president of Framingham State's Alumni Board of Directors.

Linda Hopping is the state director of the Georgia Schools to Watch Program, lead trainer for the National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform Early Warning Indicator project, a member of the National Forum’s Schools to Watch Fidelity Committee, and a school coach in California. She also serves as a faculty member for the AMLE Leadership Institute. She is a former middle grades teacher, assistant principal, principal, and middle grades staff development coordinator in Georgia. While principal at Crabapple Middle School, she established two multiage teams that were highly successful. Linda has served on the board of trustees of AMLE as well as on the AMLE Foundation Board. She also has served as president and executive director of the Georgia Middle School Association. She is one of two authors and a lead consultant for the AMLE School Improvement Assessment. She has presented at state and national conferences and has worked as an educational trainer, lecturer, and consultant. Linda is the recipient of the Georgia Middle School Principals’ Association John Lounsbury Award, both the President’s Award and Outstanding Leadership Award of the Georgia Middle School Association, as well as the National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform Outstanding Leadership Award.

Dr. Denver J. Fowler is currently the Chair of the Ed.D. program and Professor of PK-12 Leadership at Franklin University in Columbus, Ohio. Prior to his appointment at Franklin University, he served as a Program Coordinator and Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at California State University, Sacramento (CSUS). In addition to this role, Dr. Fowler served as an elected Senator on the Faculty Senate at CSUS. Dr. Fowler is starting his 11th year in Higher Education (6 years part-time & 4 years full-time). Prior to his appointment at CSUS, Dr. Fowler served as an Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership at The University of Mississippi (UM) where he taught within the Ph.D., Ed.D., M.Ed., Ed.S., and Principal Corps programs as well as served on several dissertation committees. In addition, he served as the elected President of the Mississippi Association of Professors of Educational Leadership (2015-2017), a state affiliate of the International Council of Professors of Educational Leadership. Prior to his appointment at UM, Dr. Fowler served as an adjunct instructor and lecturer for over six years at The Ohio State University, Bowling Green State University, and University of West Florida, where he was responsible for teaching courses (on-line, hybrid, & face-to-face) in educational leadership, educational technology, and teacher education, at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. In addition to his experience in the Higher Education setting, Dr. Fowler served as a coach, teacher, athletic director, technology coordinator, and school administrator for over a decade in the PreK-12 educational setting in both the private and public school sectors in the State of Ohio. During this tenure, he was named the Ohio Association of Secondary School Administrators (OASSA) and National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) State Assistant Principal of the Year in the State of Ohio, and was nominated for the NASSP National Assistant Principal of the Year in the United States. A strong supporter of education and policy reform, Dr. Fowler has spoken on Capitol Hill in order to advocate for educators and school leaders nationwide. He is the author of numerous books and other publications on educational leadership. His research interests include ethics, leadership, educational leadership, and research on the superintendency and principalship. Dr. Fowler has presented his research and served as a keynote speaker both nationally and internationally, including presentations in China, Italy, Greece, Cuba, Africa, and Puerto Rico. Dr. Fowler received his Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Educational Administration from Ohio University, Master of Arts in Education (M.A.) from Mount Vernon Nazarene University, and Bachelor of Science in Education (B.S.) from The Ohio State University. In addition to his degrees, Dr. Fowler completed a School Leadership Institute at Harvard University. Dr. Fowler is a licensed Superintendent, Principal, Teacher, and holds a Private School Administrative and Teaching license.

Linda Marlena Gross-Taylor is the founder of EduGladiators and a nationally recognized education leader with a proven track record of improving educational and operational performance through vision, strategic planning, leadership, and team building. A Nashville transplant originally from southern Louisiana, Marlena’s educational experience spans several states allowing her to have served K-12 students in both rural and urban districts. She has been recognized as a middle school master teacher and innovative administrator at the elementary, middle, high school, and district levels. Because of her sound knowledge of both elementary and secondary education, Marlena has broad-based experience creating and implementing dynamic interactive programs to attain district goals while leveraging her flexibility, resourcefulness, and organizational and interpersonal skills to foster learning through a positive, encouraging environment.

Marlena’s professional development expertise has garnered both state and national attention, and she serves as an AMLE faculty expert. She also has leveraged her past experience in corporate management to include corporate training and leadership coaching in her repertoire of consulting services, which focus on culture, engagement, and increased productivity. Marlena is a seasoned presenter keynoting conferences and delivering dynamic professional development sessions.

As a proud Louisiana State University alumni, she is committed to excellence and believes all students can achieve. Follow Marlena on Twitter @mgrosstaylor or visit her websites: &

Christine H. Toth joined the Academy of the Sacred Heart as the Middle School Dean of Students in August 2015. The Academy of the Sacred Heart is a Catholic, independent, college preparatory school for girls offering education and instructional services from pre-k through grade 12. Little Hearts, the Early Learning Program for ages 1 through 3 year-old girls, is also a division of the school.

Christine holds a master’s degree from the University of Southern Mississippi in Education and a Bachelor of Arts in Communications, with a Public Relations emphasis, from Loyola University New Orleans. Prior to joining Sacred Heart, Christine served as the Director of Student Programs at Tulane University where she had oversight and accountability for over 200 student organizations, student government, leadership programs, student media, and major campus programming. Prior to that, she was at the University of West Florida for eight years. Having worked in Student Affairs for over 11 years, she learned the importance of working with others, relationship building, and defining her leadership style. She believes that one of the most important functions of a Dean of Students is to build and maintain relationships with your constituents: students, administration, faculty, parents, and the community. She strives to inspire colleagues, peers, and the students she serves to realize their full potential.

Bryan Boykin is the principal of Williamsburg Middle School in Arlington VA and is a passionate educator who believes every child can succeed when given an opportunity. In 2003, he began his formal educational career as an elementary special education teacher, and in 2007 became a school counselor at the middle and high school levels. During this time, he had the opportunity to work with students from a variety of socio-economic backgrounds and served as a member of the school's equity teams to increase cultural awareness and eliminate opportunity gaps for academic success. In 2011, Bryan began his administrative career as an assistant principal at Williamsburg Middle School and later Carlin Springs Elementary. As an assistant principal, Mr. Boykin worked to implement professional learning communities and develop an RTI model to provide academic support. In 2013, Bryan was selected for SCOPE cohort through the University of Virginia Curry School of Education for emerging educational leaders in the state of Virginia. Mr. Boykin is a graduate of the University of South Carolina, holds a Master’s degree in counseling, and an endorsement in educational administration.

Tracey Abercrombie is an Instructional Technology Specialist in Forsyth County, Georgia. After 21 years in the classroom, her passion for engaging students drove her to a career as a coach in technology integration. She serves on the Forsyth County instructional technology leadership team and has presented alongside district leaders at conferences including GAETC and GAMSP. She helps to organize and coordinate EdCamp Forsyth, the participant driven "unconference". Tracey designed her school's personalized professional learning model that many across the district are using and finding successful. She believes schools should be working to prepare students to compete globally for careers in the future that don't exist today. Tracey feels that to be successful in this, we cannot simply use technology, but we must utilize it in a way that transforms our classrooms into a place of discovery. The classroom must be one that inspires high level questioning, creativity, collaboration, communication and critical thinking.

Video Testimonials

Dru Tomlin talks with Matt Schottel and Jessica Garcia-Dominguez at the AMLE Leadership Institute.

Dru Tomlin talks with Courtney Bailey at the AMLE Leadership Institute.

Dru Tomlin talks with Danny Fracassi at the AMLE Leadership Institute.

Dru Tomlin talks with John Ferraro at the AMLE Leadership Institute.

Professional Learning Contact Hours

Contact hours are offered with your attendance at the Institute for Middle Level Leadership! A certificate for 19 contact hours will be emailed to you a few weeks after the event.

What is a Professional Learning Contact Hour?
In order to remain a certified middle level educator, it is critical to continue learning and growing through outstanding professional development opportunities—and to receive credit for those learning experiences. By participating in the Institute for Middle Level Education, you can earn Contact Hours to maintain your teaching and administration certification. Please check with your school system and/or state certification agency to make sure they accept contact hours from AMLE.

Graduate Credit

More information coming soon...

Hilton Head Hotel/Travel

Hilton Head Marriott Resort & Spa
One Hotel Circle
Hilton Head Island, SC 29928
Reservations: 1-843-686-8400
Online Reservations

Special Hotel Rate: $209–$259
plus applicable taxes
(Room rates includes resort fee and in-room Wi-Fi.)
Housing Deadline: May 26, 2019

Limited number of rooms—book early!

** Rooms are limited and available on a first-come first-serve basis. Rates are available 3 days pre and post event based on hotel availability.

The institute is a perfect opportunity to bring the entire family!

Marriott's world-class resort in Hilton Head, South Carolina offers you an island escape in utter paradise. Enjoy newly renovated guestrooms, award-winning dining, three championship golf courses and spa. In addition, the distinctive Hilton Head oceanfront hotel's staff always delivers superior service to make your stay even more special. This outstanding family-friendly retreat also offers a wide array of impressive amenities, including golf, tennis, biking, parasailing and so much more. Take advantage of this unbeatable location and enjoy easy access to a variety of nearby destinations, including local airports, shopping and popular tourist attractions.


Late afternoons and evenings are yours to enjoy!
Plan how you'll explore Hilton Head:

San Diego Hotel/Travel

Hilton San Diego Resort & Spa
1775 East Mission Bay Drive
San Diego, CA 92109
Reservations: 1-619-276-4010
Online Reservations

Special Hotel Rate: $215
plus applicable taxes
(Room rate includes in room wireless internet, access to all recreational activities on property, 24 hour fitness center and tennis center)
Housing Deadline: May 30, 2019

Limited number of rooms—book early!

** Rooms are limited and available on a first-come first-serve basis. Rates are available 3 days pre and post event based on hotel availability.

The institute is a perfect opportunity to bring the entire family!

Set on the beautiful sands of Mission Bay, the Hilton San Diego Resort & Spa offers a variety of options for the entire family to enjoy—from spa and pool activities to tennis and sailing, we have it all! Located just six miles from the San Diego International Airport, this San Diego hotel has 357 stylish guest rooms including eight spacious suites with private balconies. Enjoy waterfront dining at Acqua California Bistro, or sit by outdoor fire pits and sip cocktails during Happy Hour (4pm – 6pm) at The Olive Lounge. In the morning, stop by A'roma Cafe where freshly brewed coffee and snacks are available daily


Late afternoons and evenings are yours to enjoy!
Plan how you’ll explore San Diego:


Included in registration

Registration Rates
AMLE Professional Member
$995 $1,195
Non-Member & Associate Member
$1,195 $1,395
All non-members receive a one-year Complimentary Individual Professional Membership.

Space is limited and is not guaranteed, so register early.

Register Online

Download Registration Form

Funding your leadership institute experience

-cancellation policy-


  • Cancellations must be made in writing via mail, fax, or email by the registration deadline.
  • Substitutions are encouraged.
  • Cancellations received by the registration deadline will be refunded in full, less a $200 non-refundable processing fee. After the registration deadline, no refunds will be granted.
  • Memberships purchased at the time of registration will be cancelled only if specifically requested. Refunds may be pro-rated based on the portion of member benefits you have received.
  • Refunds will be issued in the same form as the payment that was received.
  • Refunds will be processed no later than eight weeks after the conference.