John H. Lounsbury Award

The John H. Lounsbury Award for Distinguished Achievement in Middle Level Education is the highest award given by the Association for Middle Level Education (AMLE). This award was established to recognize individuals whose scholarship, service, leadership, and contributions to the theory and practice of the middle level education ideal has been extraordinary. The Lounsbury award is the highest award given by the Association for Middle Level Education. Exemplary contributions toward the education of middle level young adolescents either in practice or theory is the primary consideration for the award. Service to the Association for Middle Level Education is a factor to be considered yet the award is not limited to persons who have been active members of the Association.

Selection procedures include a committee review of received nominations and materials. If a recommendation results from committee deliberations, it is submitted to the Board of Trustees for a final decision.

Viable candidates for this award

  • have a minimum of fifteen (15) years of active, demonstrated, and distinguished service.
  • are recognized nationally as an influential leader and advocate for young adolescents.
  • have experiences and activities that reflect scholarship of the highest level in professional writing, research, and dedicated service to middle level education as an educator.

 Nomination Form

Nomination forms should be received at AMLE Headquarters by June 1 of each year for consideration during the current year.

Award Winners

2023 – Jeanneine Jones
Dr. Jeanneine Jones has been an active education advocate since beginning her career as a middle school teacher in 1975 at Woodland Middle School and then Western Middle School, both within the Alamance Burlington District in North Carolina. Her twelve years at Western Middle were especially impactful, and it was here that she learned early on the value of appropriate relationships with early adolescents and faculty colleagues. This school was one of the first schools built to house a full implementation of the middle school concept, and it went on to be selected as one of the four most successful middle schools in the United States, captured in Joan Lipsitz’ seminal work, Successful Schools for Young Adolescents. Since that time, her additions to the literature on middle level education have been many and diverse, and they feature lessons learned from those years of 8th grade teaching. This includes the recent publication of her coauthored book, Teaching Well with Adolescent Learners. Other notable contributions have included playing a critical role in the 2022 Revised Middle Level Teacher Preparation Standards and serving as chair of the College Board’s ELA Pre-AP Curriculum Committee since 2014.
Jones has also been a pivotal force within AMLE’s state affiliate organization, the North Carolina Association for Middle Level Education (NCMLE), where she has served on the Board of Trustees and as a former editor of the NCMLE Journal. Jones has previously received several awards, including the UNC Charlotte Distinguished Professor Award and C. Kenneth McEwin Distinguished Service Award.

2021 – Lisa Harrison
Lisa Harrison is an associate professor at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. Harrison has been an active middle level education advocate since beginning her career as a 7th grade math teacher in Brooklyn, New York. A scholar of middle level education research, teaching, and equity in education, Harrison’s work has made a significant impact both nationally and internationally.  Harrison has received several grants, including from the Ohio Department of Higher Education and the Spencer Foundation, through which she conducted important work examining the experiences of Black girls in middle school. Harrison has previously received several awards, including the Vincent Anfara, Jr. Outstanding Middle Level Research Award, the Ohio University Women’s Center Social Justice in the Classroom Award, and the Outstanding Mentor Award from the Ohio University Multicultural Center Faculty of Color Mentoring Program. In addition to her research and academic contributions to the field, Harrison has also served in important leadership roles for AMLE, including currently as Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees and Co-Editor of Middle School Journal. In 2020, Harrison co-authored the 5th edition of AMLE’s landmark position paper on best practice in the middle grades, The Successful Middle School: This We Believe, which has sold more than 10,000 copies in its first year of publication. Among her many contributions to the revision, Harrison was critical in ensuring that an equity lens was applied throughout the text.

2020 – Steven Mertens
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.

2020 – Nancy Ruppert
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.

2016 – Penny Bishop
For more than 20 years Bishop has been an active middle level education advocate. A scholar of middle level education research, leadership, teaching, and service, Bishop’s work has made a significant impact in Vermont, nationally, and internationally. In 2001 Bishop launched UVM’s middle level teacher education program, which has been recognized as a Program of Distinction by the National Council of Accreditation of Teacher Educators and received the Outstanding Middle Level Teacher Education award from the National Association of Professors of Middle Level Education. She co-directs the annual Middle Grades Institute, now in its 22nd year, an event that provides personalized professional development for 200 middle level educators. Bishop was a founding member and co-chair of the Vermont Middle Level Task Force, which advocated for middle grades teacher licensure. She also was awarded the Jackie Gribbons Leadership Award from the Vermont Women in Higher Education in 2010.

2012 – Judith Brough
Dr. Judith Brough is professor emerita and former chair of the Department of Education at Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania. She received her doctorate from the State University of New York at Buffalo in curriculum planning and development with a specialization in middle level education and supervision. Dr. Brough has authored a multitude of articles and books and speaks regularly at regional, state, and national conferences. The many awards she has received include the Gruhn-Long-Melton Award from NASSP and the William Alexander Award from the Pennsylvania Association for Middle Level Education. According to Dr. J. Howard Johnston, “…she has a “compassion for kids and professional colleagues and a deep commitment to the fundamental principles of education in a democratic society.”

2012 – Micki M. Caskey
Dr. Micki M. Caskey is a professor in the Graduate School of Education at Portland State University. She previously taught for 21 years in Tampa, Florida, for the Hillsborough School District and earned her Ph.D. from the University of South Florida in Tampa. She is a gifted writer, having authored and co-authored dozens of articles, chapters, and books. Educational research has been a theme for Dr. Caskey as she has conducted numerous research studies, served as editor of Research in Middle Level Education Online, and currently serves as the chair of the AMLE Research Advisory Committee. Dr. Caskey’s reach extends from university, state, and national levels to an international presence. She has presented on middle level education topics in France, Guatemala, Canada, England, and New Zealand. She has dedicated her entire career to middle level education where she has been influential at every level.

2011 – Gayle Andrews
On November 10, 2011, at the Association for Middle Level Education (AMLE) 38th Annual Conference and Exhibit, in Louisville, Kentucky, Dr. Gayle Andrews was awarded the John H. Lounsbury Award. Dr. Andrews, the 21st recipient of AMLE’s highest award, is an associate professor of middle grades education in the department of elementary and social studies education at the University of Georgia, Athens. Dr. Andrews co-authored Turning Points 2000 with Tony Jackson and has published numerous articles, book chapters, and research reports. She is the current president of the National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform and has served the profession extensively filling many leadership roles for the Association for Middle Level Education.

2010 – Edward N. Brazee
On November 4, 2010, at the NMSA Annual Conference in Baltimore, Maryland, Dr. Edward N. Brazee was awarded the John H. Lounsbury Award. Ed Brazee has used his scholarship and leadership skills through classroom teaching, through institute and conference presentations, through school and district evaluation studies, and through individual counseling to promote proven, progressive practices. Through his passionate and courageous promotion of curriculum integration, Ed also has become one of the most respected and influential authorities in the field of curriculum.

In 23 years of summer institutes at the University of Maine, Ed reached a national and international audience as the institute enrolled and nurtured teams from New England and beyond. Ed also founded and has been a major contributor to the work of the Maine Association of Middle Schools.

Ed has authored, co-authored, and edited a multitude of publications, articles, reports, and books. Particularly significant has been his work on the 2003 and 2010 editions of This We Believe.

Ed has shaped the profession through his many roles with NMSA, starting in 1977 with his involvement with the fourth NMSA conference, as a regular contributor to and column editor for Middle School Journal, as a member and chair of the Publications Committee for 20 years, and as editor of professional publications for 12 years.

2008 – Thomas O. Erb
Thomas O. Erb was presented the John H. Lounsbury Award at NMSA’s 35th Annual Conference in Denver. Tom Erb has been the distinguished editor of Middle School Journal for the past 14 years, taking NMSA’s flagship publication through expansion and improvement. Tom is a scholar, researcher, writer, philosopher, advocate, curriculum specialist, administrator, and first and foremost, a teacher. His dedicated service to NMSA has been extensive, including service as a board member, conference presenter, and committee member.

A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of DePauw University, Tom’s first four years of teaching were as a middle school core teacher in progressive Wilmette, Illinois. He also taught sixth grade in the University of Chicago’s Lab School and spent two years in West Africa as the head teacher in a middle school. When at the University of Florida, where he completed his doctorate in curriculum with a minor in African studies, he served as outreach coordinator for the Center for African Studies and as a research assistant in the Institute for the Development of Human Resources. He has presented in Europe and was a key player in three of the annual China-United States conferences held in Beijing. As a university professor for almost 30 years, Tom has been cited for his excellence at the University of Kansas, where he served for 25 years, and at DePauw University, where he held a distinguished professor post. Tom Erb has published articles, books, monographs, book reviews, and research reports that number into the hundreds. He has conducted more than 200 consultancies and workshops. His extensive contributions to the Kansas Association for Middle Level Education (KAMLE) include many years as editor of the KAMLE Journal and as the association’s executive director. KAMLE awarded Tom its Michael James Award for Distinguished Service, and the association has named its award for the best teaming situation as the Thomas O. Erb Award.

2007 – Alfred A. Arth
Alfred A. Arth was presented the John H. Lounsbury Award for Distinguished Service at the 2007 NMSA Annual Conference in Houston, Texas. Following graduation from Patterson State Teachers College in 1962, Al became a sixth grade teacher in Ridgewood, New Jersey. A few years later, after he received his masters in education degree, Al ventured out to the University of Oklahoma, where in 1968 he received an Ed. D. Then it was back east to teach at the University of Virginia. Four years later Al Arth was off to the University of Wyoming, where he pioneered the development of graduate and undergraduate middle level teacher education programs. After 16 successful and very active years in Laramie, Al became a professor at the University of Nebraska. There, over the next 18 years, he developed one of the first doctoral level middle school programs, organized summer middle level academies, Kids on Campus, and instituted many other special activities. More recently, Al joined York College in York, Nebraska, as an adjunct professor.Al was the driving force that led to the 1962 publication of NMSA’s first position paper, This We Believe. He has served on NMSA’s Board and chaired a committee.

2006 – Barbara Brodhagen
Barbara Brodhagen became the 17th recipient of the John H. Lounsbury Award at the National Middle School Association 33rd Annual Conference in Nashville, Tennessee. Barb holds three degrees, including a Ph.D., from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has taught special education, elementary grades, and in a variety of teamed middle level situations, including looping and multiage. Barb has also held a number of supervisory and leadership positions in the course of her 30-plus year career. Whatever her title, she is first and foremost a teacher. Her special talents come to the forefront when she is in direct relationship with learners, whether they are children, young adolescents, or adults. What sets her apart is her deep and abiding respect for the dignity of others, especially young people.

Barbara has served our association directly and continuously for many years, including chair of the Curriculum Committee, as a contributor to This We Believe and two of its follow-up publications, and as a conference presenter almost annually. Her excellence has been recognized by the New England League of Middle Level Schools, which named her the 2005 recipient of its Jim Garvin Distinguished Educator Award, and by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning, which made her a Teacher Scholar for 1999-2001. The University of Wisconsin College of Education awarded her its Distinguished Alumni Award in 2001.

2006 – Sue Swaim
NMSA Executive Director Sue Swaim is the 18th recipient of the John H. Lounsbury Award, which was presented at the National Middle School Association 33rd Annual Conference in Nashville, Tennessee. Sue Swaim began her career as an elementary teacher in the late 1960s and then became a middle school teacher. She was selected as the principal of the elementary and middle school at the University of Northern Colorado’s Laboratory School. Active professionally early on, she became executive director of the Colorado Association of Middle Level Education, one of the very first strong affiliates of NMSA. She then was elected to be a board member of NMSA; and ultimately, her demonstrated leadership led to her election as its 1991 president. Then in August of 1993 she was called upon to become our association’s executive director. Over the following 13 years, her leadership has been highlighted by many notable events and achievements including the establishment of a satellite office in Washington, D.C.; the initiation of the Month of the Young Adolescent; the initiation of collaborative relationships and joint projects with other national organizations; the relocation and expansion in facilities and personnel of NMSA’s headquarters; the doubling of our association’s budget and more than a doubling of its membership; the development, publication, and promotion of the 1995 and the 2003 revisions of This We Believe; the initiation of NMSA’s Middle Level Leadership Institute and other special conferences; and the development of Success in the Middle: A Policymaker’s Guide to Achieving Quality Middle Level Education, a major policy statement based on This We Believe. Sue Swaim has had a vision about the education of young adolescents and the commitment and skills needed to carry it out. She has actually lived out every day the recommendations of This We Believe. As a result, middle level education has gained a place of prominence on the national education agenda.

2003 – J. Howard Johnston
Dr. Johnston became the 16th recipient of the John H. Lounsbury Award at the National Middle School Association 30th Annual Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. Johnston has been engaged in education for the past 34 years as a junior high and high school language arts teacher and college professor. He received this award in recognition of his accomplishments as a teacher, author, researcher, speaker, and for service provided to the field of middle level education. His extensive professional development work has put him in touch with hundreds of faculties in the 50 states and all across the globe. He has keynoted virtually every major middle level conference in the United States, Europe, Asia, South America, and beyond. Additionally, he has authored a wide array of articles, chapters, research reports, and several books. As a teacher and professor, he has been popular with students, not because of his easy requirements but rather the opposite; students are drawn to him by the attraction of high standards, meaningful challenges, readily shared wisdom, and conscientious, personal attention to individuals. Lounsbury summed up Johnston’s recognition during his presentation by saying, “for your long-standing commitment to young adolescents, particularly those typically underserved, for your manifold and valued services to the cause we share in common, whether expressed in writings, oral presentations, consultations, research studies, scholarly treatises, or classroom teaching, all emanating from a personhood of decency and quality, you can rightfully be characterized as a giant in American education.”

2002 – Chris Stevenson
Dr. Chris Stevenson became the 15th recipient of the John Lounsbury Award at NMSA’s 29th Annual Conference in Portland, Oregon. Although he has accomplished much as a professor, writer, presenter, and consultant, Stevenson was particularly recognized for the impact he has had on others as a mentor and role model. Dr. Stevenson has strong beliefs and convictions about how schools could do better by young adolescents through strategies such as partner teaming, curriculum integration, and improved student-teacher relationships. He believes in young adolescents and strives to ensure their active voice and engagement in the learning community. In his presentation speech, Dr. Lounsbury noted that, “Chris teaches by who he is and how he relates to others as much as by what he knows.” His influence on curriculum and instruction has been substantial and his work will continue to have impact well into the future.

2001 – Nancy Doda
NMSA recognized Dr. Doda for her outstanding achievements and commitment to middle level education. Although noted for her speeches that engage her listeners, she has contributed significantly to professional literature, teacher and administration preparation through her college teaching, and professional development through over 1,000 workshops, consultations, and summer institutes. As Dr. John Lounsbury commented when presenting this award, “Because of her commitment and fierce determination, her moral stature, and her global influence, Nancy Doda has achieved distinction as one of a kind, a master teacher who genuinely cares about kids and acts accordingly as a vibrant and highly esteemed professional leader.”

1999 – Sherrel Bergmann
Dr. Sherrel Bergmann is an influential leader and scholar of middle level education. Dr. Bergmann has had extensive experience as a consultant to schools, districts, state departments, universities and others throughout her career. She is particularly noted for her expertise in young adolescent development, advisory programs, guidance, and family and parent relationships. A co-founder of the Association of Illinois Middle-Level Schools (AIMS), Dr. Bergmann also served on the NMSA (now AMLE), board of trustees. She has served on numerous committees for NMSA/AMLE and chaired the Research Committee. Having served as a middle and high school teacher, middle school counselor, researcher, college dean and university professor, Dr. Bergmann has brought a wealth of experience to those she has reached and made a significant impact on creating successful middle schools.

1998 – Paul S. George
Dr. Paul George is a well-respected scholar and an international and national authority on middle level education. As a researcher, author, consultant, speaker, and teacher, he has been actively involved in improving middle schools for more than 40 years. He co-authored The Exemplary Middle School with colleague Williams Alexander and The Handbook for Middle School Teaching with Gordon Lawrence. Particularly noteworthy is Dr. George’s international work as a consultant in schools and communities in Canada, Germany, Japan, Greece, Mexico and Kenya. Dr. George founded the Florida League of Middle Schools (FLMS) in 1972 and received their Educator of the Year award in 1993. He served as the first executive director of FLMS in 1995. He is currently an Emeritus Distinguished Professor of Education at the University of Florida.

1997 – James Beane
Dr. James Beane is widely recognized as an expert on middle level curriculum and an advocate for democratic schools and integrative curriculum. An author of more than 200 articles, chapters, and books, including the groundbreaking book, A Middle School Curriculum: From Rhetoric to Reality, published by NMSA/AMLE in 1990, he has served as the leading voice in curriculum models that tap into student interest and knowledge and engage all aspects of curriculum to solve issues and problems. He has served as a teacher, state department staff member, professor, and university department chair. In 1989 he accepted a position at National-Louis University where he planned the Middle Level Curriculum Center and worked extensively with teachers on democratic classroom and integrative curriculum approaches.  Dr. Beane served on several NMSA/AMLE board committees and has received numerous awards for his middle level education work.

1995 – John H. Swaim
Dr. John H. Swaim has been recognized as a leading expert in middle level education and an advocate for specialized middle level teacher preparation programs and middle level teacher certification and licensure program. Dr. Swaim developed one of the first middle level teacher preparation programs in the United States while he taught at the University of North Colorado, Greeley. This program served as a model for numerous other programs that developed over the years. Also while at UNC-G, Dr. Swaim established a specialized organization for pre-service middle grades teachers, which ultimately led to the development of the Collegiate Middle Level Association, an affiliate organization of AMLE. He led the establishment of middle level teacher certification in Ohio and middle level teacher licensure in Colorado. Dr. Swaim, as president of NMSA in 1980, was a visionary in the development of the first ever publication that defined the middle school concept, This We Believe, now in its fourth edition. He has published extensively, won numerous awards, served on and chaired committees for NMSA/AMLE and others. Throughout his career, in many roles including teacher, coach, principal, and professor, Dr. Swaim has had a major influence on improving the educational experiences of young adolescents.

1993 – Joan S. Lipsitz
Dr. Joan Lipsitz has dedicated her career to advocating for the education and well-being of young adolescents. After beginning her career as a secondary school English teacher, she later moved to a middle grades teaching position. With few resources available in the middle grades at the time, Dr. Lipsitz authored the influential publications, Growing Up Forgotten: A Review of Research and Programs Concerning Early Adolescence and Successful Schools for Young Adolescents. She has been an advisor to foundations, nonprofits, the National Science Foundation, and the U.S. Department of Education, with primary focus on school improvement and youth development. She established and directed the Center for Early Adolescence at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she was also a faculty member of the Bush Institute for Child and Family Policy and a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Maternal and Child Health. Dr. Lipsitz previously served as the program director for the Middle Grades Reform Initiative, funded by the Lilly Endowment. She has been a member of the College Board’s Commission on Precollegiate Guidance and Counseling, a research associate at the National Institute of Education, a member of the governing board of the Annenberg Rural Challenge, and a founding director of the North Carolina Child Advocacy Institute. She is a founding member of the National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform and the Forum’s Schools to Watch program. Dr. Lipsitz currently serves on several governing boards.

1991 – James Garvin
Dr. James Garvin, a lifelong advocate for middle and secondary education, began his career teaching grades 7 through 9. Upon completion of his Ph.D. in Early Adolescent Studies, he became a faculty member at Gordon College where he subsequently served as chairman of the education department. While at Gordon, he helped develop the first middle school teacher preparation program developed in collaboration with an existing middle school and with guidance and input from practicing middle school educators. With national recognition for this program, Dr. Garvin was invited to chair the Massachusetts Advisory Committee, which established middle level education standards for the state. In 1983, the United States Department of Education invited him to participate in the Blue Ribbon Recognition Program, where he was honored for these efforts at the White House by President Ronald Reagan. In 1989, he was invited to join the Carnegie Corporation to study transition issues in high schools. Dr. Garvin was president of NMSA (now AMLE), served on the National Commission on Excellence, and successfully developed the New England League of Middle Schools, an affiliate of NMSA/AMLE. Dr. Garvin authored the popular publication, Learning How to Kiss a Frog.

1990 – George Melton
George Melton was in public education for more than 30 years, starting his career as a classroom teacher, then moving to the role of junior high principal. He was a believer in the middle school concept and coined the term “middle level” at a time when there were differences in views on junior high vs. middle school. He was president of the state principal association in Illinois then in Ohio, and became deputy executive director of the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) in 1980, where he established the Middle Level Council, Schools in the Middle magazineand National Middle Level Education Week, now a month-long celebration. Melton co-authored Developing a Mission Statement for the Middle Level School and was recipient of many awards including the first William Gruhn-Forrest Long Award from the National Council of Junior/Middle School Administrators and several state education awards.

1989 – C. Kenneth McEwin
Dr. C. Kenneth McEwin has been a pioneer in teacher preparation and licensure in the middle grades as a researcher, teacher, and advocate. Starting his career as a sixth grade teacher, he moved to the role of elementary school principal, and is now professor and coordinator of middle grades teacher education at Appalachian State University. Dr. McEwin was one of the founding members of the North Carolina Middle School Association where he was its first executive director and editor of its journal. He was president of NMSA (now AMLE) and a member and former chair of AMLE’s Professional Preparation Advisory Committee. He has played a vital role in the development of the guidelines for middle level licensure, which were adopted by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). Dr. McEwin is currently the AMLE Program Review Coordinator for AMLE-NCATE Middle Level Teacher Preparation Standards. Dr. McEwin has written more than 100 articles, books, chapters, and reports and is co-author of the AMLE publications, Clearing the Hurdles: Issues and Answers in Middle School Sports and The Status of Programs and Practices in America’s Middle Schools: Results from Two National Studies. He has been the recipient of numerous awards at the national and state levels and is the namesake of the North Carolina Middle School Association’s Distinguished Service Award.

1987 – Gordon Vars
Dr. Gordon F. Vars was a lifelong middle level education leader and friend of the Association for Middle Level Education.  He helped form the Midwest Middle School Association, which later became National Middle School Association (now AMLE), and served as its first president. He was a leading proponent of core curriculum, a person-centered, democratic approach to education, and helped form the National Association for Core Curriculum. Dr. Vars was on the writing team for the first edition of This We Believe, published in 1982, and he helped draft the first national standards for middle level teacher preparation. Of great importance to Dr. Vars was keeping in contact with young adolescents throughout his career. He originally taught eighth grade, but continued to teach in the middle school through his university career and in Sunday school classes. He was a prolific author of articles, books, and chapters and won several state and national awards.

1985 – Conrad F. Toepfer
Dr. Conrad Toepfer, Jr. is a distinguished scholar and advocate for middle level education. He has been a voice for social justice and human rights particularly as they are applied to the development of attitudes and behaviors of young adolescents. A founding member of National Middle School Association (now AMLE) and a past president of the association, Dr. Toepfer was an early leader in the middle school movement. He authored a multitude of professional publications on middle grades topics and was editor of Dissemination Services on the Middle Grades and Transescence: The Journal on Emerging Adolescent Education. Additionally, he was one of several authors of the first edition of This We Believe, published in 1982. He was a consultant to many schools in New York and across the United States that were making the transition from the junior high model to the middle school philosophy. He met with middle school staffs internationally and helped establish the European League for Middle Level Education. He has been a middle school teacher, district curriculum coordinator, and professor of education. He has received several state and national awards and is the namesake of the New York State Middle School Association leadership award.

1983 – Donald H. Eichhorn
Dr. Eichhorn was a scholar, a leader, and pioneer in the middle school movement. His philosophy was centered on the expectation that decisions made about and for young adolescents must be based on knowledge of the unique characteristics of this age group. His work as an assistant superintendent in Upper St. Clair, Pennsylvania, brought exceptional and innovative practices to the middle schools, which became model schools for districts across the United States interested in creating exemplary middle schools. He authored the first ever book on middle schools, The Middle School. Dr. Eichhorn advanced the field of middle level education by serving in various roles with NMSA, ASCD, and NASSP, and received numerous awards including the Gruhn-Forrest Long-Melton Award and the Pennsylvania Middle School Association Achievement Award. Dr. Eichhorn is the namesake of the Schools to Watch schools from Pennsylvania and the Lewisburg, Pennsylvania School District named an exemplary middle school in his honor.

1981 – William Alexander
The late William Alexander was a visionary and a leader in middle level education for more 50 years. Commonly known as the “father of the middle school,” in 1963, his call for the creation of separate schools for middle grades students effectively established the middle school movement as we know it. After this declaration, he embarked on research of middle schools. He served as a teacher, assistant curriculum director, superintendent, and professor of education. Dr. Alexander co-authored the classic book, The Emergent Middle School, originally published in 1968 and revised in 1981. This text became the standard document for university students around the United States. Dr. Alexander served in various roles with NMSA (now AMLE), including member of the Critical Issues and Publications Committees and member of the writing team for the first edition of This We Believe in 1982.

1978 – John H. Lounsbury
John H. Lounsbury has had a lifelong commitment to young adolescents and those who teach and reach them. As a prolific author, editor, teacher, researcher, and mentor amongst many other roles, Dr. Lounsbury has had a profound effect on middle level education as we know it. Starting his career as a junior and senior high teacher, he has served as chair of a university department of education, as associate professor and professor, and as dean of a school of education. Dr. Lounsbury was editor of the NMSA/AMLE publication, Middle School Journal, from 1976 to 1990 and served as chair of the association’s publication committee. He was named professional publications editor of the association in 2002, and amongst the hundreds of books he has authored, co-authored, and edited, Dr. Lounsbury was a writer and editor for each of the four editions of This We Believe, the association’s position paper. He has served on the boards, commissions, and councils for the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development and the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), and founded the National Association of Professors of Middle Level Education, an affiliate of AMLE. Additionally, he has served as a co-director for the Georgia Lighthouse Schools to Watch program. Dr. Lounsbury was the first recipient of National Middle School Association’s highest award, and subsequently the award was named the John H. Lounsbury Distinguished Service Award. Other awards bestowed on Dr. Lounsbury include the William Gruhn-Forrest Long Award from NASSP, the Distinguished Service Award from the Georgia Middle School Association, and the Joan Lipsitz Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform. In 1997, the Georgia College and State University named the school of education The John H. Lounsbury School of Education.