The Successful Middle School in a Minute

Welcome to The Successful Middle School in a Minute, a video blog and podcast which aims to bring AMLE’s landmark text on best practice in the middle grades to life. The goal is simple: to connect middle school educators across the world one quick conversation at a time.

In each episode, an educator shares a high-impact practice or idea which captures the 18 characteristics of successful middle grades school. It’s the start of a conversation, an idea to spark implementation in your school and give you the connections you need to make it come alive.

Have an idea you want to share on The Successful Middle School in a Minute? It can be a big idea, or just a simple practice you’ve used at your school that makes a difference for your students. Submit your idea today!

Latest Episode

A School Remodel that Prioritizes Student Choice
Featured Educator: Jay Posick, Principal
School: Merton Intermediate School
Location: Merton, Wisconsin

When Principal Posick realized that students at Merton Intermediate School didn’t have much choice in their education, he and his superintendent prioritized giving students the right “space” to explore by using a school remodel to create the infrastructure and room needed for more exploratory opportunities. School staff helped generate ideas for new exploratory offerings and, most importantly, kids get to pick based on their interest.

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Past Episodes

Episode Three

Teaming Practices that Put Students at the Center
Featured Educators: Lisa Meade @lisameade23 and Maria Kolodziewjski

School: Granville Junior-Senior High School
Location: Granville, New York, USA

Granville Jr./Sr. High School puts students at the center of their teaming strategy for 7th and 8th grades. Each grade level team has leveraged Google to create classroom webpages that offer coordinated communication with parents/families. They have also implemented Tutorial Periods for each teacher to provide extra help to students and use a running spreadsheet to see what’s due/being worked on across the grade level. They also reassess and reassign students throughout the year based on student-teacher connections and what they each need individually at that time. The team communicates regularly to keep track of students, issuing “Amber Alerts” when students need additional support both academically and social-emotionally.

Episode Two

Creating Leadership Opportunities for Staff, Students, and Families
Featured Educator: Chris Legleiter, @clegleiter

School: Leawood Middle School
Location: Leawood, Kansas, USA

At the center of Leawood Middle School’s culture is the belief that together is when we’re better. Principal Chris Legleiter talks about ways they’ve empowered students, staff, and families including giving students opportunities to tell the story of the school, the RSVP program (Raising Student Voice and Participation student focus groups on key topics the insights from which are shared out to staff), integrating families into the staff’s professional learning, and more. Chris sees the impact of these initiative in low staff turnover and positive relationships with students and families.

Episode One

Kid Ed Camp
Featured Educator: Dr. Donald Gately, @donald_gately

School: Jericho Middle School
Location: Jericho, New York, USA

Derived from the professional development model by the same name, students are invited to submit topics and passions of interest and then present them as a session. Students can choose which session they’d like to attend. At Jericho Middle School, the idea took off with students signing up to share a wide variety of sessions ranging from how to draw anime, politics, sports-related topics, how to prevent stress, making your own slime, and many more. Dr. Gately believes any school can find doable ways to give students a voice in their own learning experience, and encourages interested educators to reach out if they’d like to learn more about Kid Ed Camp.

About the Host

Dennis SchugDennis Schug proudly serves as Middle School Principal in Hampton Bays, New York.  He is focused on the success of each and every adolescent in grades five through eight, and proudly leads a team dedicated to this work.  He is committed to daily action based on the belief that all young adolescents are entitled to an academically rich and developmentally responsive learning experience.  And he believes that communication, collaboration, learning, leadership, and relationships are central to building a school culture that supports this vision.  The goal of Successful Middle School in a Minute is an extension to this believe: to help one another, to serve our profession as middle level educators, and to share authentic examples of This We Believe, in action.  To collaborate with Dennis, email him at or use Twitter to connect with him at @schug_dennis.