Forum Board

President – Ran Barnes

North Carolina Assoc. for Middle-Level Education

Ran Barnes has served for over fifteen years as a Board member for the North Carolina Association for Middle-Level Education.  While on that Board, he has served as the Central Office Representative, Treasurer, and Past- President. In addition, Ran serves on the Board for the National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform.  While serving on these Boards, Ran worked with the 2010 Investing in Innovation i3 grant for NC.  This was a three-state collaboration with North Carolina, Illinois, and California.  He is currently the state director for the SEED grant.  This is a 4 state initiative with Michigan, California, North Carolina and Illinois.  Ran is active in the Schools to Watch (STW) initiative in North Carolina.  Each year he visits schools to help determine a school as a new STW or a redesignated STW.

Past President – Bruce Vosburgh 

Pennsylvania Assoc. for Middle-Level Education
Bruce Vosburgh is currently the Director of the Don Eichhorn Schools:  Schools to Watch program in Pennsylvania.  He has been involved with the STW program in PA since they wrote their state application in 2005.  He is a retired middle school teacher, coach, team leader, assistant principal and principal of a middle school in Pennsylvania where he spent 36 years, serving the last 20 as the principal.  He is the current President of the National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform Board.

Schools to Watch Fidelity Chair– Michelle Hayward


Michelle Hayward began her career as a teacher in 1989.  She has served as teacher, and was principal at the elementary level as well as the middle level in a School to Watch middle school for 22 years before she became the Executive Director for Elementary and Middle Level Education for Fayetteville Public Schools in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  She earned a Bachelor’s degree from Arkansas Tech University, a Master’s degree from University of Central Arkansas and her Educational Specialist’s degree from Arkansas State University.  In 2008 and in 2014, Michelle was named NAESP’s Middle School Principal of the Year for the State of Arkansas and she received AMLE Distinguished Educator of the Year in 2013.  Among other honors, she was the recipient of the Charles A. Green Arkansas Administrator that Makes a Difference Award in 2014 and the Roderick McDavis Middle Level Leadership Award for Outstanding Contribution to Middle Level Education.     Michelle has been a constant champion of the middle level and served in leadership roles, such as board member and officer in the Arkansas Association of Middle Level Administrators for 12 years as well as serving on the board of the Arkansas Association of Middle Level Educators as the state co-director for Arkansas Schools to Watch since 2014.  Hayward served as a board member for the Association of Middle Level Educators from 2016-2019.  She has been a member of the fidelity committee for the National Forum and is currently serving on the board as the Fidelity Committee Chair.  She is married to Dr. Jacob Hayward, who is a middle school principal and they have 5 children and 7 grandchildren. 

Treasurer- Jana K Vance


Jana is the Superintendent of the Rochester Community School Corporation. Jana also serves on the IMLEA Board, NIESC Board, Fulton County Health Board, Chamber Board, and FEDCO.  She is married to Douglas and they have one son, Dryden. 

Superintendent Representative – Martinrex Kedziora

Dr. Martinrex Kedziora is the Chief Academic Officer of Educational Services for the Moreno Valley Unified School District since 2011. Originally, from Memphis, TN, Dr. Kedziora has been a middle school teacher, special education coordinator, K-8 Principal and Professional Development Director during his 30-year career. He serves as President of the California League of Middle Schools. As an Education Faculty member for National and Brandman Universities. He serves as a team member of CLS for the California Department of Education and the Middle Schools Alliance.  He is a committee member of the Urban Education Committee for ACSA. He is the Chair of the Advocacy Committee for the National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades, Vice President of the Moreno Valley Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and on the advisory board for the Schools First Federal Credit Union. 

Member at Large- Scott Steele


Scott Steele – Scott is currently the Executive Director of the California League of Schools.  CLS produces multi-day professional development events for educators throughout California, guides the California Schools to Watch model schools program, and is involved in several federal grants. Scott is also involved in the California Middle-Grade Alliance and heads the CLS Educator of the Year program. Before joining with CLS, Scott spent 33 years in the Clovis Unified School District as a middle school teacher, elementary principal, middle school principal (and former Schools to Watch principal) and Director of Educational Services.  Scott is from Fresno, California and attended Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.  



Member at Large- David Payton


David Payton served for over 20 years as Supervisor of the New York State Education Department’s Middle-Level Education Program, retiring in 2006. While at the NYSED he led the team that wrote New York’s STW application.  From 2004 to 2018, he was a Co-Director of New York’s Essential Elements: Schools to Watch program.  Dr. Payton continues to serve the middle-level community as a member of the EE: STW Leadership Team, a reader of STW applications, a site visit team leader to schools seeking STW re-designation, and an advocate for middle-level education and the STW program.  He has been a member of the New York State Middle School Association’s Board of Directors since 1985 and the National Forum since 2000. On October 18, 2018, Dr. Payton was inducted into the New York State Middle-Level Education Hall of Fame, joining his hero and friend, Dr. Conrad (Connie) Toepfer.

Member at Large- Chris Cook

Dr. Chris Cook is a Professor of Middle Grades Education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina. He earned his B.S. and M.A. from Appalachian State University and his Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina Greensboro. His current research and teaching interests focus on effective middle grades practices, current implementation of the “middle school concept”, and middle grades teacher preparation. Chris served as the former chair of the Middle Level Education Research Special Interest Group of the American Educational Research Association and currently serves as the state co-director of the North Carolina Schools to Watch program.

Middle Grades Principal Representative- Cathy Tomon

Cathy is principal of Bridges School, a 6-12 alternative school in Carteret County, North Carolina.  She was the Executive Director of the North Carolina Association for Middle-Level Education and past President as well as the NC State Schools to Watch Director for 15 years.  She is currently a board member of the National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Level Education.  Cathy is a member of the Board of Directors for the Administration Division of NCAE (North Carolina Association of Educators) and is in her 7thyear as a member of the Penn State College of Education Board of Directors. In her community, she is a member of the Newport Planning Board and is Vice President of her homeowners' association. Dr. Tomon received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Elementary Education from Penn State University, a Masters Degree in Curriculum and Instruction from East Carolina University and her Doctoral Degree in Administration and Supervision also from East Carolina University.   



Middle Grades Practitional Representative - David McDonald

Dr. David D. McDonald began his education career in 2001. He has served as a high school social studies teacher, Assistant Principal, and Principal for 10 years prior to being named Assistant Superintendent for Middle Schools for the largest school district in South Carolina. In 2013, Dr. McDonald was named S.C. Middle-Level Principal of the Year and in 2017 was named the AMLE Educator of the Year.  Well respected in numerous schools and states, Dr. McDonald works tirelessly to support middle-level education. His professional associations include serving as President of the South Carolina Association for Middle-Level Education, Schools to Watch State Co-Director, and as a board member for the National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform.  Dr. McDonald earned a Bachelor’s degree from Winthrop University, a Master’s degree from Concordia University, and Educational Specialist and Doctor of Philosophy degrees from the University of South Carolina.

Advocacy Chair- Billy Pringle

Billy Pringle serves as TASSP’s Associate Executive Director for Business Operations & Middle-Level Services. TASSP is the Texas Association of Secondary School Principals and is located in Austin, Texas. Before TASSP, Billy spent 30 years in public education in Texas with 21 of those years as a principal at the middle-level. The last three years in public education were in Rockwall ISD in Rockwall, Texas as Chief Administrative Officer for Secondary Schools. Billy and his wife Sheri currently reside in Georgetown, TX and have two college age children. Their son Brady is a senior Biology major at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas. Their daughter Kayla is a Junior Anthropology major at the University of Texas San Antonio in San Antonio, Texas.

Executive Director- Ericka Uskali

Ericka Uskali is the Executive Director for the National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform. She began her career as a middle-school teacher, and has since been the Assistant Director for the Association of Illinois Middle-Grades Schools, served as a comprehensive school and district reform instructional coach, educational consultant and professional development specialist, and school district administrator overseeing a School Improvement Grant. As Executive Director of the National Forum, Ericka oversees a national network of middle-grades schools, as well as such programs as the Schools to Watch and International Schools to Watch recognition and school reform process and annual national conference, federal grant work, middle-grades research, middle-grades advocacy efforts, and the EWI school training process and online tool. Ericka has both a Masters and Specialist degree in Educational Leadership.