NCTE's Middle Level Section: Its Origins

"The Middle Level Section of NCTE is the home for middle school and junior high educators, administrators and teacher educators interested in the area of adolescent literacy in the English language arts classroom."

From the website of NCTE's Middle Level Section


By far the newest NCTE Section, the Middle Level Section offers a place for middle school educators, who were previously split between the Elementary Section and the Secondary Section. The Section was not added until 2000, roughly ninety years after the original three Sections — Elementary, Secondary, and College — were created. Sessions called "A Middle Mosaic" helped pave the way. Held during NCTE's Annual Conventions, these popular special events focused on issues in middle schools, illustrating the demand and need for a Section dedicated exclusively to middle school educators.


In 2000, the Executive Committee moved to create this Section by approving a one-time Middle Level Nominating Committee and a Middle Level Advisory Committee. Later that year, the Council officially recognized the new Section. In 2001, Elizabeth (Betty) Close was appointed as the first chair. With the Section finally formed and officers elected, the Section sponsored its first retreat, which took place in Urbana, Ill., NCTE's Headquarters, from July 19-22, 2001. To learn more about the Middle Level Section's beginnings, take a look at the featured records below.


Contents:(To enlarge an image, click on it and it will open in a new window)


A Middle Mosaic: What A Difference A Day Makes

A Middle Mosaic: A Celebration of Reading, Writing, and Reflective Practice at the Middle Level

Edwin A. Hoey Award

Middle Level Luncheon, 1999

Executive Committee Recognition of the Middle Level Section

Middle Level Section Retreat


A Middle Mosaic: What A Difference A Day Makes


"A Middle Mosaic," is a special event held for middle school educators at NCTE's Annual Conventions. The practice started in 1997, when the National Middle School Association sponsored the day-long event during the NCTE Annual Convention. Called "A Middle Mosaic: What A Difference A Day Makes," the event offered four sessions focusing on issues in middle schools. Two sessions were dedicated to the challenges of a diverse classroom, while the other two dealt with writing. The event also provided educators the chance to socialize with others teaching in middle schools. "A Middle Mosaic" was important in demonstrating to NCTE the need for a new Section.


Item: Correspondence and program from "A Middle Mosaic"(1997)

To learn about related material, see the following record series: 15/72/004


  

The invitation and program for "A Middle Mosaic: What A Difference A Day Makes," a special event with workshops and sessions for middle school educators.


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A Middle Mosaic: A Celebration of Reading, Writing, and Reflective Practice at the Middle Level


Encouraged by the success of "A Middle Mosaic: What A Difference A Day Makes," Secondary Section Chair Carolyn Lott suggested that the proceedings be published. Elizabeth Close and Katherine D. Ramsey agreed and sent out a call for manuscripts. With the articles they received, Close and Ramsey edited and composed A Middle Mosaic: A Celebration of Reading, Writing, and Reflective Practice at the Middle Level. Contributions included "When Reading is Stupid: The Why, How, and What to Do about It," by Jeffrey D. Wilhelm, "Footprints in the Mud: Reading Science," by Petey Young, and "Sweating the Small Stuff: When Spelling is More Than Small Stuff," by Rebecca Bowers Sipe. With successful conference sessions and now a publication of the proceedings, the need for the Middle Level Section was becoming clearer.


Item: Copy of A Middle Mosaic: A Celebration of Reading, Writing, and Reflective Practice at the Middle Level (2000)

To learn about related material, see the following record series: 15/71/824


    

The cover and pages from A Middle Mosaic: A Celebration of Reading, Writing, and Reflective Practice at the Middle Level. The table and contents and introduction illustrate the concerns of middle level educators, namely of literacy and reading skills.


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Edwin A. Hoey Award


While the the Middle Level Section was not yet formed, NCTE recognized middle school teachers through its Edwin A. Hoey Award. The award is named after Edwin A. (Ted) Hoey, who was an active member of NCTE and editor of READ, a junior high school magazine. Starting in 1998, the award is presented each year to an outstanding English language arts teacher in grades 5-8. The award's first winner, Rise Paynter, was nominated by a fellow teacher. In her narrative, she wrote: "[Paynter] truly fosters the spirit of inquiry and love and language and literature this award exemplifies." When the Middle Level Section formed in 2000, winners were formally recognized at the Middle Level Luncheon.


Item: Award correspondence and nomination (1998)

To learn about related material, see the following record series: 15/72/004


  

The first application form for the Edwin A. Hoey Award and the narrative submitted nominating Rise Paynter for the award.

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Middle Level Luncheon, 1999


With the Middle Level Section on the cusp of recognition, committee members went ahead with the Section's first luncheon meeting at NCTE's annual conference. The program from the luncheon illustrated many of the events that would become traditional parts of these luncheon meetings, including the presentation of the Edwin A. Hoey Award and a speech from a guest speaker, typically an author.


Item: Program from Middle Level Luncheon (1999)

To learn about related material, see the following record series: 15/72/004


 

The program for the middle level luncheon, which includes events that would become part of the Section's tradition.


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Executive Committee Recognition of the Middle Level Section


In 2000, the Middle Level Nominating Committee and a Middle Level Advisory Committee faced the task of establishing the new Section. Although this was an enormous undertaking, the general tone of correpondence was one of optimism and enthusiasm. Kathie Ramsey, chair of the Middle Level Advisory Committee, wrote in an e-mail to her committee: "I'm still thinking about the convention in Milwaukee and about our great new middle level Section.... And the many wonderful opportunities for networking with peers from all over the country — what could be better?" The Council officially recognized the Section during November's annual conference.


Item: Memo and e-mails regarding the new Middle Level Section(2000)

To learn about related material, see the following record series: 15/72/004


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Letters among Executive Board members and committee members illustrating the process of establishing a new Section, including approval of the committees and its members, the introduction of members, and minutes of the committees' meeting.


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Middle Level Section Retreat


Once established, the Middle Level Section still required direction as to its short-term and long-term goals. The Executive Committee approved the Section's request to hold a retreat at NCTE headquarters in Urbana, Ill. Lasting from July 19-22, 2001, the retreat gave members the opportunity to create a strategy for the first three years of the Section. Key concerns that were addressed included developing a mission statement, Section handbook, website, and convention events, as well as continuing past NCTE middle level activities, such as the magazine Voices from the Middle and the Edwin A. Hoey Award.


Item:Copy of flyer and agenda (2001)

To learn about related material, see the following record series: 15/72/004


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The information sheet and agenda informing Middle Section members of the retreat and its planned schedule.


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