Indiana Middle Level Education Association (IMLEA) is dedicated to promoting, improving, and supporting middle level education. In May 1979, IMLEA received from the Department of Treasury a determination letter that IMLEA was granted status as a 501 (C) (3) association. The association was first housed at Ball State University, but under executive secretary Dr. Roger Boop's leadership, IMLEA moved to a more centrally-located home at Butler University. From there the association branched out into twelve regions throughout the state to provide infomation, research, and education to support the compelling evidence that renders early adolescence as a formative stage of human development. Developmentally appropriate middle level education provides organization and rigorous curriculum designed to meet the 10 to 14 year olds' developmental needs while acknowledging their tremendous diversity in social, intellectual, and emotional growth.
A grant from Lilly Endowment in 1992 founded the Indiana Middle Level Institute. The main emphasis of IMLEA and the institute was to provide grant dollars to middle level schools to fund staff development in middle schools that would lead to programs, policies, and practices needed for excellent education for Indiana's early adolescents. The second tier of the proposal was to provide college credit and licensing validation through Butler University through a summer installment of the institute and through regional workshops. Another aspect of the proposal was collaborating with middle level educators, local boards of education, community/youth service agencies and business partnerships.
A second or renewal grant was written and funded in 1996 for an additional two years. The Indiana Middle Level Institute in requesting refunding for its work, spelled out four specific goals for the two-year granting period. They are 1) To reach middle level students in small and rural schools via staff development efforts designed and carried out by school staff under the aegis of grants and support given by IMLI; 2) To work with junior/senior high schools and other school configurations to ensure developmentally appropriate curricula for young adolescents; 3) To continue the summer institute at Butler University and the IMLI workshops on a regional basis; 4) And to continue to expand the resources available to middle grades educators in Indiana.
The first director of the institute resigned in January of 1994 after setting up three workshops and establishing one round of grants to nine schools. Dr. Cindy Wilson became the director in August of 1994 and continued in that position until 2000.
Mrs. Sally Steward served as Executive Director until the fall of October 2002. She worked to increase membership, increase communication with members and regional coordinators. She implemented the related arts conference and continued the good work of Dr. Wilson through annual conferences, summer institute, and the Just-in-Time training (designed for teachers and administrators beginning at the middle level.)
At this point in the association's history, discussion led IMLEA to consider a partnership with the Indiana Association of School Principals (IASP). Our office is now located in the IASP office on the far east side of Indianapolis. IMLEA wanted to expand its partnership with higher education and is pleased that Butler University, Valparaiso University, University of Evansville, Indiana University, IUPUI, IUSE in New Albany, and Indiana State have served to support IMLEA.
IMLEA does not act as a political association, however, the need to speak on behalf of middle level children and middle level educators is great. In the age of information, competent and accurate research-based knowledge about how children learn and develop healthy behaviors is essential. IMLEA serves to help early adolescents, parents, teachers, administrators, and the communities navigate the "roller-coaster years" of the students in grades 5-9.
In March of 2005 the Governing Board appointed Shirley Wright as its Executive Director. It is the intent of IMLEA to move ahead in its pursuit to: expand its role as a resource clearinghouse; provide up-to-date information on current best practices for middle school education; be a continuing voice for middle level policy in the legislature; and provide opportunities for middle level educators to network on best practices of meeting the needs of adolescents. In July, 2021, Shirley transitioned to Schools to Watch consultant, and Susie Highley became the Executive Director.