Visiting Scholars

Visiting Scholars
Gayle Andrews
University of Georgia

Dr. Gayle Andrews is Professor in the Department of Educational Theory and Practice at the University of Georgia and Professor-in-Residence at Hilsman Middle School, Professional Development School District. Her research focuses on strengthening middle grades education for young adolescents, those ages 9-15, including studying improvement efforts in policy and practice affecting middle grades schools; the professional learning of middle grades educators and the preparation of prospective middle grades teachers, specifically on-site in a professional development school; and the history and impact of progressive philosophies and related practices such as integrated curriculum, service-learning, and democratic teaching and learning. Her areas of expertise include middle grades school improvement, social justice teacher education, professional development schools, equity-oriented oriented professional learning, integrated curriculum and critical service-learning.

Visiting Scholars
Keith Burgess
University of North Carolina, Charlotte

Keith Burgess is a fifth year middle grades science teacher and department chairperson at Druid Hills Academy, a K-8 school in Charlotte, NC. For the last two years Keith has balanced work with being a full time doctoral student at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, where he is enrolled in their Curriculum and Instruction in Urban Education Program. He is also part of the 2019-2020 Kenan Fellowship for Teacher Leadership program, which is sponsored by North Carolina State University. This Fellowship is awarded to 27 outstanding North Carolina teachers each year to advance K-12 STEM education by providing educators with relevant, real-world professional learning and leadership development. Recently as the Principal Investigator for a Burroughs Wellcome Grant his proposal was funded, providing a classroom set of drones along with an online course to teach his students how to code them for flight. Keith’s current research interest involves the integration of STEM career exposure with science instruction and its effect on academic achievement for middle grades urban students.



Visiting Scholars
Susan Leonard
University of Georgia

Susan Y. Leonard is a doctoral candidate in Educational Theory and Practice with emphasis in middle grades education at the University of Georgia. She has twelve years of experience teaching adolescents and currently serves as instructional coach and social studies department head at an alternative high school. Her research focuses on equity-oriented teaching and teacher education and she performs participatory research with teachers at a local middle school.

Visiting Scholars
Nancy Ruppert
University of North Carolina, Asheville

Dr. Nancy Ruppert has taught middle school math for 18 years. She helped design the middle school at PK Yonge Laboratory School at University of Florida and instituted one of the first middle school teams in Duval County Schools, Jacksonville, Florida. Her dissertation was on what makes effective teams and Dr. Paul George was the chair of her committee. Over the course of the last three decades she has served as the president of the Association for MIddle Level Education Board of Trustees and the National Professors of Middle Level Education. Additionally she has chaired or co-chaired all of the Southeast Professors of Middle Level Symposia designed to bring middle level professors together for research and sharing of best practices. Currently she is the Chair of the Department of Education at University of North Carolina Asheville and serves on the outreach committees for North Carolina Professors of Education and the North Carolina Association of Colleges of Education Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Specialty Interest Group. The current work of her department is to address Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion intentionally in college classes via individual exploration and teaching students CRT and restorative practices.

Visiting Scholars
Kristie Smith
Columbus State University

Dr. Kristie W. Smith is a long-time middle grades educator and teacher educator. Kristie’s professional background includes nearly two decades of middle school teaching, instructional coaching, and professional development leadership. In her university work, Kristie has served both the Tift College of Education (Mercer University, Atlanta) and the Lounsbury College of Education (Georgia College and State University) as a middle grades/middle grades literacy education adjunct. Kristie’s professional appointments include an assistant professorship at Minnesota State University, Mankato and an assistant professorship at Gardner-Webb University of Boiling Springs, North Carolina. Kristie is currently an Assistant Professor of Middle Grades Teacher Education at Columbus State University in Columbus, Georgia. She is also an active member of AMLE, AERA, and NCTE. Kristie currently serves as a council member of the Middle Level Education Research SIG of AERA and as the CMLA, East Faculty Advisor for the Chapter-at-Large. Kristie’s scholarship passions include creative teaching practices, the scholarship of teaching and learning, literacy education as equity, and 21st century teacher development through culturally responsive, socially just frameworks.

Visiting Scholars
Tracy Smith
Appalachian State University

Dr. Tracy W. Smith is Professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at Appalachian State University (ASU). She is also the Faculty Fellow for Mentoring Initiatives for the College of Education. Though she has been at the university for two decades, she still joyfully recalls her years teaching middle school language arts and social studies and is grateful that social media allows her to stay connected to her former middle school students who are now interesting and beautiful adults. Smith enjoys life with her family in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, including the musical traditions and hiking the region offers. She and her husband are currently parenting two adolescent daughters. In 2017, Smith was awarded the UNC Board of Governors Excellence in Teaching Award. She has also received the College of Education Outstanding Teaching, Mentoring, and Community of Practice Awards as well as the Appalachian Student Government Association Outstanding Teacher Award. In 2001, she received the Outstanding Dissertation Award from the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE). Her research interests include mentoring and educational development in higher education, middle level education and teacher preparation, the relationship between teaching expertise and student learning, and evaluating the depth of student understanding. She has had articles published in journals such as the To Improve the Academy: A Journal of Educational Development, Journal of Teacher Education, Middle School Journal, Clearing House, and Teacher Education and Practice.

Visiting Scholars
Katie Walker
Corpus Christi ISD

Dr. Katie Walker is the Middle School Reading and Language Arts Specialist in Corpus Christi ISD. She taught middle school English Language Arts and Reading and English as a Second Language for 11 years. She earned her Ph.D. in Reading from Texas Woman’s University in 2017. She served for eight years in Texas Public Schools as a teacher, instructional coach, and curriculum specialist. Additionally, she spent five years teaching in higher education in Texas, South Carolina, and Maine. Dr. Walker has been nationally awarded for her work in middle-level education by the American Educational Research Association - MLER SIG (2019) and serves at the Co-Editor for the National Journal of Middle Grades Reform. Her area of expertise and service is the intersection of adolescent literacy, English as a second language instruction, and middle-level education.

Visiting Scholars
Bogum Yoon
Binghamton University

Dr. Bogum Yoon is Professor of Literacy Education in the Department of Teaching, Learning, and Educational Leadership at the State University of New York at Binghamton. Bogum’s research areas include cultural and linguistic pluralism, positional identities and agency, and critical global literacies. Her research approach is interdisciplinary, global, multicultural, and critical in nature. Her work has been published in research journals such as American Educational Research Journal and Middle Grades Research Journal. Her recent research activities focus on Critical Global Literacies(Yoon, 2016), a theoretical and instructional framework that she developed to support educators to promote students’ global perspectives across the curriculum. As part of this effort, she recently served as an editor for a special theme issue, “Global Education in the Middle Grades,” in Middle Grades Review. She also served as a book editor, Effective Teacher Collaboration for English Language Learners (Routledge). These activities reflect her on-going professional commitments: advancing the educational field with new theoretical knowledge and insights and supporting educators’ instructional practices for all students.