National Education Community Convenes on February 12-13 to Develop a Vision for Remaking Middle School

UVA’s Youth-Nex Center and Curry School of Education & Human Development, the Association for Middle Level Education, New York Life Foundation, and Altria Partner to Host a Summit that Realizes the Promise of the Middle School Years

Charlottesville, Va., Feb. 12, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- As young people find their voice, develop long-lasting relationships and learn at an unmatched pace during the middle school years, they also navigate significant cognitive, social, and physical changes. On February 12-13, educators, youth development professionals, researchers, policymakers, and out-of-school time staff from across the country will attend the Remaking Middle School Summit in Washington D.C. Sponsored by UVA’s Youth-Nex Center and Curry School of Education & Human Development, the Association for Middle Level Education, New York Life Foundation and Altria, the summit will be hosted by Gallup. Together, attendees will establish a path forward for remaking middle schools in ways that both support and recognize the strengths of early adolescence.

“We have a unique opportunity to remake the future of learning for young adolescents now,” said Nancy Deutsch, director of Youth-Nex and its Remaking Middle School initiative, one of the sponsors for the summit. “With powerful developmental research and a cross-section of stakeholders here that can influence policy and practice, we can begin to transform middle schools into learning spaces that foster the inherent talents of our young people--and capitalize on the opportunities that come with this period of great developmental change.”

The Remaking Middle School Initiative at the Youth-Nex Center aspires to elevate a robust body of research that the education field can use to ensure the middle grades support young adolescents’ developmental needs. Through the initiative, adults across the classroom, school building, and community can employ research-based practices to shape learning experiences that address students’ needs and elevate their innate strengths.

“Middle school is a critical time for both promoting positive outcomes and preventing risky behaviors for youth," said Jennifer Hunter, Senior Vice President for Communications and Corporate Citizenship at Altria Group. “Creating developmentally supportive and enriching middle school environments for all young people is key to developing resiliency and good decision-making.”

“We are delighted to help bring researchers, practitioners, and policy makers together as part of this effort."

The middle grades years, in particular, have become increasingly important for young people on the path to success in college and career. While young adolescents are expanding their cognitive capacities, they also are in a prime position to develop the 21st century skills of creativity, collaboration, and critical thinking that are integral to success in the future workforce. With both a supportive, inclusive environment and team of educators that are empowered to serve as guides and mentors, young people can realize long-lasting, academic success and psychological well-being.

“Middle school is a pivotal time for students.  If a young person is “on-track” by the end of 9th grade they are four times more likely to graduate from high school,” said Marlyn Torres, senior program officer, New York Life Foundation. “Our hope in supporting the “Remaking the Middle School Summit” is that we can collectively develop positive solutions to improve the social and educational outcomes of young adolescents to prepare and position them for success.”   

Roughly 150 leaders from across the education field will participate in the Remaking Middle School Summit, sharing and engaging with a significant body of research on early adolescence and practice in middle schools. Together, they will leverage this research to generate a national vision for middle school—and offer tangible solutions to transform the middle grades. A few featured speakers will include:

  • Stephanie Marken, Executive Director of Education Research at Gallup
  • Na’Ilah Nasir, President of the Spencer Foundation
  • Nathaniel Kendall-Taylor, CEO of the FrameWorks Institute

“Truly remaking middle school will require a big coalition that draws from the varied perspectives of those steeped in the research; from those with big voices in the field to those working with youth everyday,” said Jason Cascarino, strategic advisor to AMLE and the middle school education work funded by New York Life Foundation.

“Together, we can create a bold, new middle school experience, in school and out of school, where young people engage in inquiry-based, personalized learning experiences, form invaluable, lifelong relationships, and have the opportunities to explore who they are and the many, powerful possibilities ahead of them,” said Cascarino.

Following the Summit, attendees will serve as part of a growing, cross-sector network devoted to implementing this action agenda—and boldly reimagining middle school in America.


About Youth-Nex, The UVA Center to Promote Effective Youth Development

The Youth-Nex Center at the University of Virginia is committed to recognizing and reinforcing our youths’ strengths, providing them with the resources to become healthy, productive citizens— and ensure they have the tools to thrive in our society. Youth-Nex is a trans-disciplinary center that offers a translational approach to scholarship and innovation, addressing three core domains: out-of-school time, middle school, and civic and political engagement. For more information, view Youth-Nex’s brochure here.


About the University of Virginia Curry School of Education and Human Development

The University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education and Human Development, located in Charlottesville, Va., is ranked America’s 16th best graduate schools of education. To its 2,300 undergraduate, graduate and professional students, the school offers nationally-ranked degree programs in education and health centered around human development. Through three research centers, nearly 20 labs, and dozens of individual projects, faculty and students at the School of Education and Human Development conduct rigorous, practical research that supports both the quality of teaching, learning and clinical practices and the decision-making of district, state and national leaders.


About the Association for Middle Level Education

The Association for Middle Level Education (AMLE) helps middle school educators reach every student, grow professionally, and create great schools. A non-profit membership organization, AMLE members include teachers, principals, counselors, professors, researchers, and others interested in the education of 10- to 15-year-olds.  


About the New York Life Foundation

Inspired by New York Life’s tradition of service and humanity, the New York Life Foundation has, since its founding in 1979, provided more than $285 million in charitable contributions to national and local nonprofit organizations. The Foundation supports programs that benefit young people, particularly in the areas of educational enhancement and childhood bereavement. The Foundation also encourages and facilitates the community involvement of employees and agents of New York Life through its Volunteers for Good and Grief-Sensitive Schools programs. To learn more, visit

About Altria

Altria Group, a Fortune 200 company, headquartered in Richmond, Va. is the parent company of Philip Morris USA, U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company, John Middleton, Nat Sherman, Ste. Michelle Wine Estates and Philip Morris Capital Corporation. Altria holds an equity investment in Anheuser-Busch InBev and JUUL Labs.

More information about Altria is available at or follow us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

About Gallup

Gallup delivers analytics and advice to help leaders and organizations solve their most pressing problems. Combining more than 80 years of experience with its global reach, Gallup knows more about the attitudes and behaviors of employees, customers, students and citizens than any other organization in the world. We know what matters most to them at work and in life and how those priorities change over time. And we use that knowledge to create transformation.


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