Esteemed Educators Receive National Award in Middle Level Education

Dr. Steven Mertens and Dr. Nancy Ruppert are recipients of the highest award honored by AMLE.

October 24, 2020

COLUMBUS, OH At the Association for Middle Level Education virtual annual conference (#AMLE20), two educators were recognized as recipients of the John H. Lounsbury Award for Distinguished Service in Middle Level Education: Steven Mertens, Ph.D. and Nancy Ruppert, Ed.D. The award, the highest offered by AMLE, was established to recognize individuals whose scholarship, service, leadership, and contributions to the theory and practice of the middle level education ideal have been extraordinary.

Steven Mertens is a professor of middle level education in the School of Teaching and Learning at Illinois State University. Dr. Mertens is a renowned author and researcher and has been a champion of middle level education for more than 25 years. Previously, Dr. Mertens served as a senior research scientist for 15 years at the Center for Prevention Research and Development at the University of Illinois where he served as principal investigator on numerous research and evaluation projects. A prolific writer and editor, Dr. Mertens has authored more than 80 publications addressing middle level education, notably serving as lead author and editor of Literature Reviews in Support of the Middle Level Education Research Agenda (Information Age Publishing , 2018) and the second edition of The Encyclopedia of Middle Grades Education (IAP, 2016) . He is a past chair of the American Educational Research Association’s Middle Level Education Research SIG, a member of the National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform, a board member of the Association for Illinois Middle-Grade Schools, and a former member of AMLE’s Research Advisory Committee. He is the 2019 recipient of the Vincent A. Anfara Outstanding Research Award and 2020 recipient of the College of Education’s Outstanding Researcher Award from Illinois State University.

According to colleague, Micki Caskey, “Dr. Mertens is a respected colleague, dedicated advocate, remarkable leader, productive scholar, and among the most influential researchers in middle grades education.”

Nancy Ruppert is a professor and the chair of the department of education at the University of North Carolina, Asheville, with a career spanning 40 years in middle level education. From roles as a middle school math and science teacher to teaching aspiring teachers at the university level, Dr. Ruppert has dedicated her career to teaching and advocating for the middle grades. Dr. Ruppert has served in leadership roles including past president of the AMLE Board of Trustees, outreach coordinator for the North Carolina Professors of Middle Level Education, past president and symposium coordinator for the National Association of Professors of Middle Level Education (NAPOMLE), and member of the European League for Middle Level Education (ELMLE). She has published numerous articles and presented at the state, national, and international levels. An advocate for the Collegiate Middle Level Association and supporter of pre-service teachers, Dr. Ruppert has on four occasions left the college classroom to teach full time in middle school mathematics classrooms to gather fresh experiences to support her work in middle school teacher preparation. Dr. Ruppert received the 2019 Outstanding Professor of Middle Level Education from NAPOMLE, the 2018 Distinguished Teaching Award from UNC Asheville, and the 2017 North Carolina Association for Middle Level Education (NCMLE) Higher Education Professor to Watch Award.

Jeanneine Jones, a colleague of Dr. Ruppert, remarked, “She has a true servant’s heart, and that is especially obvious in her work with young adolescents and their teachers. I have watched her tenacity on their behalf, felt her love for them, and witnessed the plans she has for influencing them—model plans that are relevant, rigorous, interactive, and strong.”

According to AMLE CEO Stephanie Simpson, “AMLE is absolutely delighted to bestow this award on two exceptional individuals. This year’s awards are particularly meaningful as AMLE also pays tribute to the life and legacy of Dr. Lounsbury. I think it is exceptionally fitting that two such passionate and tireless advocates for young adolescents and middle level education receive the award this year.”


About the Association for Middle Level Education (AMLE)
The Association for Middle Level Education helps middle school educators reach every student, grow professionally, and create great schools. A non-profit membership organization, AMLE members include teachers, principals, counselors, professors, researchers, and others focused on the education of 10- to 15-year-olds.

Media Contact
April Tibbles | AMLE Chief Communications Officer | 800-528-6672 |