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.
President Elect – 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.
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 Superintendent for the Moreno Valley Unified School District. 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 Chairman of the California League of 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 is the California Schools to Watch Director at 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 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 – 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.
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.
Member At Large – Jessica Graham
Growing up in a family of educators, Jessica Graham knew that educating and nurturing students was her passion. After graduating in 2008 with her bachelors in 4-8 education, she first began teaching math and science in a 5th grade classroom. She quickly learned the importance of building relationships with her students, and how much support is needed during the crucial middle school years. Jessica began learning more about middle school initiatives when she was asked to be a writing team member for Schools to Watch at her middle school in Brookland, AR. Her team was designated as a School to Watch in 2011 and she was also part of the process when her middle school was redesignated in 2015. Her journey from a classroom teacher to an instructional facilitator began in 2016. In this position, she facilitates professional development for teachers, conducts co-teaching lessons with middle school best practices, oversees the building response to intervention programs, is a contributing member during professional learning communities, oversees curriculum, rigor, and pace. Jessica has been an active board member of the Arkansas Association of Middle Level Education since 2012. She has served roles such as Northeast Arkansas representative, secretary, president-elect, president, and is currently the associate executive director for the state of Arkansas. Through her work as an instructional facilitator and as the associate executive director of AAMLE, she has strived to improve academic and developmental outcomes for all students in the middle grades.