March is Middle Level Education Month

Join us as a champion for middle level education! We know that young adolescents are special. That’s why the month of March is devoted to celebrating the wonderful things that happen each and every day in middle level education.

This year, our theme is Leading from the Middle because we know the profound and consequential nature of early adolescence. The educators and adults that serve these kids are essential in helping them develop a sense of agency, be optimistic about the future, and prepared to succeed in our ever-changing world.

There are a variety of ways both kids and adults can get involved in Middle Level Education Month!

Leading From the Middle

Why Middle Level Education Month?

Middle schoolers are amazing humans. Their educators and caregivers have the privilege of watching them develop physically, socially, emotionally, and cognitively as they discover new vistas, form new relationships, and explore their developing identity. We have so much to benefit from knowing and understanding students’ perspectives on themselves, their education, and the world around them. Did you know:

  • 10-15 year-olds are experiencing the most rapid, significant changes of their lives other than infancy.
  • During the middle grades, students construct the attitudes, values, and dispositions that will form who they become as adults.
  • Young adolescents are developing the ability to imagine the future and think ahead. They begin to make decisions based less on impulse and more on goals.
  • Of all age groups, middle grades students are the most receptive to positive change following a career development intervention – more so than even high school students.

Despite these factors, the middle grades are the most under addressed period within the educational system, with fewer investments in the middle grades than in early childhood or the high school to post-secondary transition. We also know there is a documented, significant decline in youth engagement in the middle grades.

Luckily, the research tells us what young adolescents need to thrive! The middle school model, or a school specifically designed to meet the students’ needs, has been around for nearly a century. The concept is best articulated by AMLE’s foundational position paper, The Successful Middle School: This We Believe, which identifies 5 Essential Attributes and 18 Characteristics of a successful middle grades school:



Using the distinctive nature and identities of young adolescents as the foundation upon which all decisions about school are made.



Cultivating high expectations and advancing learning for every member of the school community.



Facilitating environments in which students take responsibility for their own learning and contribute positively to the world around them.



Providing socially just learning opportunities and environments for every student.



Fostering a learning atmosphere that is relevant, participatory, and motivating for all learners.

2024 Middle School Student Sound Off

What’s it like being a middle schooler today!

Middle School Student Sound Off

Building on the success of the 2023 contest and to continue to amplify the voices of students, AMLE is holding the 2024 Middle School Student Sound Off contest open to any student aged 10-15.

We encourage kids to tap into their creativity and help the adults in their lives understand what it’s like being a middle schooler today and what they want out of their educational experiences. AMLE will select entries to be displayed at the AMLE24 Annual Conference Program. Entries will be evaluated by a panel of reviewers based on four categories: relevance to the theme, effectiveness/overall appearance in the selected medium, originality/creativity, and clarity of message.

Students can SOUND OFF on any aspect of their middle school experiences, and can consider these prompts for inspiration:

  • Being a middle schooler is like…
  • I feel happiest when…
  • I feel safest at school when…
  • I wish the adults in my life better understood…
  • Something that really matters to me is…
  • One of the biggest challenges or opportunities of being a middle schooler today is…

How to Sound Off

We know that each middle schooler is unique with different interests, talents, and ways of expressing themselves. Student can submit in any format that most appeals to them. This might include, as just a few examples:

  • Through a piece of artwork or photograph
  • Through an essay or poem
  • Through a video or song
  • Through a podcast

Need some inspiration? Check out the finalists from the 2023 Middle School Student Sound Off.

With their parent/guardians’ consent, students can submit their Sound Off by completing the registration form, including an upload or link to their submission. The student should provide the name and contact information for a teacher who supports their entry.

Please note that because students are asked to upload their submission, they do have to sign in with a Google account. If they do not have a Google account or if that presents an issue, they can email the required submission information to

Submissions will be accepted beginning February 15 through April 5, 2024 at 11:59 pm ET. No late submissions will be considered. There is no fee to enter this competition. Only one submission per student.


  • First prize will receive $250 Amazon gift card, a plaque acknowledging their accomplishment, and recognition on the AMLE website.
  • The remaining top 5 finalists will each receive $100 Amazon gift cards, a plaque acknowledging their accomplishment, and recognition on AMLE website.
  • All other students selected to have their entries displayed at AMLE24 will also receive a $20 Amazon gift card
  • All participating students will receive a certificate of participation and a laptop sticker.

Lead from the Middle

It’s critical that middle grades educators know the importance and power of their voice! Explore our Leading from the Middle article series as we tell the stories of middle school leaders around the world who are working to flip the narrative of the middle grades and recognize students’ full potential.

Leading from the Middle: Four Things Middle School Leaders Want Parents to Know

Research is clear that family engagement in middle school is essential for student success. Yet it sometimes feels like schools and families are more divided than ever. Middle school leaders must build stronger partnerships that help both constituencies achieve their shared goal: success for the whole student.

Leading from the Middle: The Unique Skillset of the Middle School Leader

Strong leadership is essential to a successful middle school. This statement may seem obvious, but a leader who possesses the unique skillset to lead from the middle can be easy to take for granted.

Leading from the Middle: Finding Your Place and Your People in the Middle Grades

In a recent episode of the Middle School Walk & Talk Podcast, Kevin Armstrong, middle school principal and incoming President of the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP), recounted a story from his career as a middle grades leader.

Middle School Gets a Bad Rap. It’s Time to Flip the Script.

“Bless your heart.” “I’m so sorry!” “Why?” If you’re a middle grades educator, it’s likely you’ve heard one of these reactions when you tell someone your profession. It’s not uncommon for people to recount negative memories from their own time as a middle schooler or bemoan, “kids these days.”

Regardless of your position, years of experience, or school setting – you have a role to play in amplifying and advocating for middle level education. AMLE has released a National Policy Agenda for the Middle Grades with resources to help educators be informed, active, and vocal ambassadors. Explore the Agenda and Advocacy Toolkit to learn how you can get involved!

Special MLEM Member Offers

The Successful Middle School

Have a Copy of SMS:TWB on Us!

Expand your middle level education knowledge! During March, all AMLE Store purchases will come with a complimentary copy of The Successful Middle School: This We Believe. Already have a copy? We encourage you to share with a colleague who may be new to the middle school model.

Successful Middle School Leader

Enjoy the Successful Middle School Leader Author Workshop!

Learn to lead from the middle! Enjoy 20% off The Successful Middle School Leader during the month of March and you’ll also gain free access to the recorded author workshop with Dr. Cedrick Gray. Use Code MLEM24 at checkout.


Show your MLEM Spirit!

Members can also request a complimentary MLEM poster for their school and laptop stickers for your team. We will mail them to members free of charge.

Spread the Word

Be sure to use #MLEM in your posts and follow AMLE on X, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram throughout the month. We encourage you to share your own positive stories about your school/students/children that highlight what makes the middle grades so special.


Leading from the Middle Poster
Proud Middle School Leader
Proud Middle School Teacher
Middle School Strong Poster

Social Media Images

Leading from the Middle Social Media
March is MLEM
Middle School Strong Social Media
Middle School Vibes Only
Proud Middle School Leader
Proud Middle School Teacher

Take the Pledge

Share your convictions! Let your students know you that you have proudly dedicated yourself to being an active advocate for all young adolescents. Take the “This I Believe” pledge and post it in your classroom.

Other Ways to Expand and Share your Middle Level Education Knowledge

We know that middle level educators are lifelong learners. Take this month as an opportunity to learn something new about the middle grades. Here are just a few ways to get started:

  1. Read a new article about middle level education. You can get started with Middle School JournalResearch in Middle Level Education Online, or Share what you learned on social media or with a colleague.
  2. Explore the essential attributes and characteristics of successful middle grades schools.
  3. Lead a book study of The Successful Middle School: This We Believe at your school.
  4. Educate your parents on what makes these year so special for their children and offer tips on how they can support them. Need some back-up? Check out our Middle School Walk & Talk podcast or the Changing by the Minute documentary toolkit for inspiration.
  5. Host an activity at your school that celebrates middle level education! Encourage your students to be actively involved and provide opportunities for them to share their voices and experiences as young adolescents.

We Want to Hear from You!

Are you doing something amazing at your school to celebrate MLEM? We want to hear from you! Email to share and potentially be featured on and our social media channels.