AMLE Celebrates Inaugural Schools of Distinction

AMLE recognized its inaugural class of Schools of Distinction earlier this month, in conjunction with the organization’s 49th Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida. The twelve schools were selected for their fervent commitment to implementing the essential attributes and characteristics of successful middle grades schools. In addition to being celebrated during a special awards ceremony, each school presented one of their promising practices during the #AMLE22 Annual Conference. Their presentations and participation in the conference reflects a key aim of the program to create a network of schools that can learn from and support each other in addition to highlighting the exceptional work that takes place every day in middle level education. The twelve schools included:

Belmont Ridge Middle School, Leesburg, VA

Coastal Middle School, Savannah, GA

Community School, Roanoke, VA

Douglas Middle School, Douglas, WY

Laveen Elementary School, Laveen, AZ

Lee County East Middle School, Leesburg, GA

Lee County West Middle School, Leesburg, GA

Ridgeview Charter Middle School, Sandy Springs, GA

River Bend Middle School, Sterling, VA

Seaman Middle School, Topeka, KA

Smart’s Mill Middle School, Leesburg, VA

Upson-Lee Middle School, Thomaston, GA

The awardees hailed from diverse geographic and school settings, ranging from Community School, a small private school of less than 60 middle school students, to River Bend Middle School, a large public middle school with an enrollment of 1,137, demonstrating that the middle school model may not look the same in all places, but it is possible in all places. Any school that educates students aged 10-15 are eligible to apply for the program, which includes a process of self-assessment and strategic vision setting followed by a robust evaluation.

For AMLE, it’s part of the organizational mission to elevate exceptional schools, and this evening was no exception.  Each school made a grand entrance, walking the Schools of Distinction Red Carpet, and enjoyed words of inspiration and fun treats from program emcee Jack Berckemeyer.  “Parents are giving us their children and it is our job to teach them to be good human beings, to be kind human beings. Congratulations to every single one of you tonight for helping your middle school students become good, kind, compassionate people,” Berckemeyer said in his remarks. The evening concluded with a presentation of awards, during which program director Katie Powell provided a personal retrospective of each school’s journey to becoming a school of distinction.

The awards program provided an opportunity to both celebrate their accomplishments, but also reflect on the passion, dedication, and skill that each of the professionals within these schools bring to their work each day. Stephanie Simpson, AMLE CEO, left each of the schools with a charge to continue to be fierce advocates for the middle grades and to share what’s working in their schools. “I commend you for your conviction and courage. While it is a challenging time in education, AMLE is here for you and you’re here for each other. And that is the point of Schools of Distinction.”

Get to know the 2022 AMLE Schools of Distinction

Explore profiles of each of the recognized schools, including some of the promising practices currently making a positive difference for their students. You can also connect with leaders from each school if you’re interested in learning more about their work.

Interested in becoming an AMLE School of Distinction? Learn more about the process.