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Annual Middle Level

Conference & Exhibits

New England League of Middle Schools are leaders in promoting middle level best practices by providing collaborative learning experiences that support students’ intellectual, academic, social, and emotional growth and success. 

43rd Annual Middle Level Conference
March 25 & 26, 2024
"Bring Back the Joy!"


Monday, March 25, 2024

General Session Keynote 

Don't Yuck My Yum

Jen Cort

Our choice to spend all of our working hours with middle school students stymies all those who have yet to find their niche fits in educating those between childhood and adolescence. While teaching middle-level students is rarely described as easy, it has become more complicated in recent years, causing frustration and burnout. Begin the conference with this keynote session striving to reconnect us with our love of middle-level education. 

Luncheon Session Keynote 

The ARTS at the Center
(The arts are the COREST of subjects)

Argy Nestor


In today’s rapidly changing world, the role of arts education in middle schools has never been more essential. Middle-level educators have a pivotal role in shaping the academic and personal development of students during this critical stage of their educational journey. The arts are everywhere, so let’s consider their possibilities in every subject. 

The development of young adolescents encompassing their physical, intellectual, moral, psychological, and social-emotional needs can all benefit from engagement with the arts. Whether through direct instruction or an interdisciplinary approach, the arts empower students and boost their confidence while fostering self-expression, creativity, innovation, and critical thinking. Research demonstrates that placing the arts at the core of education significantly impacts student performance and success.

Establishing a strong presence for the arts in every middle school can serve as an instrument with the capacity to engage every student.

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

General Session Keynote 

Be a Lifeline: The Power of Awareness to Change a Student's Path

Ashley Bendiksen

In every community, unlimited numbers of youth and children silently experience abuse. In the U.S., 1 in 3 teens experience abuse by a dating partner, with recent data indicating alarming increases in sexual assault among high school teens. Further, 1 in 7 children experience abuse or neglect by someone they know, trust, or are in the care of.

Despite this high prevalence, these issues are often overlooked. Warning signs are often subtle or misunderstood by adults. This lack of intervention leaves youth at risk for further harm, as well as serious short- and long-term consequences. For many, it also becomes an adverse childhood experience that negatively impacts not just their present, but future life. Adults, therefore, play a crucial role in recognizing harm to safeguard the lives of vulnerable youth. With improved awareness and skills, early detection and intervention can save a life and change a child’s path.

Luncheon Session Keynote 

Kindness is a Lifestyle - Positively Impacting School Culture

Michael Chase


Michael Chase will share his inspirational story of survival from his experience at the epicenter of the terrorist attacks during the Boston Marathon in 2013 and how this experience changed his life forever. Chase’s emotional account will help the crowd reassess the way they treat themselves and others, so the audience becomes empowered to make positive change and live intentionally kinder lives. Chase will also provide a behind-the-scenes perspective on his creation of “Kindness Week” at Essex North Shore Agricultural and Technical School in Danvers, MA. Allow him to guide you through the process of creating an event within your school or district that can have a lasting impact on every student and staff member! 

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