State and Regional Contacts
Jay Clark proudly serves as principal of Van Buren Middle School in the Van Buren Local School District in Hancock County, a position he has held since 2004. Prior to his current position, Jay taught instrumental music and was a middle school assistant principal. He earned a Bachelor’s of Music Education and Master’s in Educational Administration from Bowling Green State University. In addition to his commitment to OMLA, Jay also holds memberships in the Ohio Association for Secondary School Administrators, National Association of Secondary School Principals, Association for Middle Level Education, and is a member of the University of Findlay College of Education Advisory Council. Jay and his wife Crystal live in Findlay with their four children, and Sambam the greyhound.
Nicki is a 2003 graduate from the University of Dayton in Middle Childhood Education with concentrations in math and science. She also received her Master’s Degree from Marygrove College. Nicki is a 7th grade math teacher at Troy Junior High School and is also a team leader.
Lorrie retired in 2013 after 30 years as a middle level educator. She spent most of her career teaching 7th and 8th grade Language Arts at Troy Junior High in Troy, Ohio. Her work with middle level education continues through teaching at Wright State University as a faculty member in the Middle Childhood Education Program. As a 30-year middle level educator, Lorrie conducted her classroom teaching experience as a teacher/researcher. During her last 5 years in the classroom, she wrote and implemented a program designed for disengaged students. The program assisted 7th and 8th grade students to reveal and achieve their full potential through intensive affective & academic instruction. Lorrie received her Bachelor’s Degree from Wright State University and her Master’s Degree from the University of Dayton. In addition, she completed The Ohio Writing Project through Miami University and acted as the President of their Advisory Council for two years. While working to deliver the best practices for middle level students, Lorrie received recognition for her efforts. In 1996, Troy Area Chamber of Commerce recognized her as the Young Educator of the Year. Among other recognitions, she earned the Golden Apple Award from the Ashland Company and is a Martha Holden Jennings Scholar recipient. Nominated by her students, she received the Ray Kroc Award and Excellence in Education Award. Lorrie has served on the OMLA Executive Board as the West Region Representative, the Vice President and President. She now serves as the OMLA Past President.
Mr. Tom Burton is currently the Past-President of OMLA and is the Associate Superintendent of Princeton City Schools, located just outside of Cincinnati, Ohio. Tom has been in administration since 1995 with over 12 years of service as a building principal. He is the author of “Mark of Leadership: Strategies for Leading with Purpose, Plans, and Passion.” Since 2001 Tom has spoken to numerous audiences throughout the United States with passion and purpose on a multitude of topics. Additionally, Tom has written articles for publications both in Ohio and nationally and was the “Mark of Leadership” columnist for Middle Ground Magazine, an AMLE and formerly National Middle School Association publication. He is the winner of NASSP/MetLife Ohio Middle School Principal of the Year, Distinguished Young Alumni Award from Slippery Rock University, and many other awards. Most recently he was selected as Ohio Educator of the Year by the Ohio Middle Level Association and was inducted in both the Cleveland Heights High School Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame and John Carroll University Athletic Hall of Fame. Tom is married to wife Franca, and they share the joy of raising three children, Cailey (Eleventh grade), Bryce (Ninth grade), and Tommy (Sixth grade).
Kelli Cogan graduated in 1993 from Eastern Michigan University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education. She received her Master’s Degree in Educational Administration from John Carroll University and her Superintendents license from Cleveland State University. Kelli is currently the Assistant Superintendent in Olmsted Falls, Ohio. Prior to Olmsted Falls, Kelli was Principal of Troy Intermediate School in Avon Lake, Ohio. She served in that capacity for four years. Kelli was also the Principal of Wiley Middle School in the Cleveland Heights-University Heights School District. She has been an administrator for the last 11 years and was a classroom teacher for 8 years prior to her administrative roles. She was recognized as a Jennings Scholar, has served on various district and local committees and presented at both local and state conferences. Kelli Currently resides in Rocky River with her husband Chris and their two children.
Paul Destino is the Treasurer of the Ohio Middle Level Association. He has been on the OMLA Board since 2002. Paul has been the Principal of Mayfield Middle School since 2006. He previously was an Assistant Principal at Wiley Middle School and a middle school teacher at Monticello Middle School, both in the Cleveland Heights/University Heights School District. Paul is married to his wife Natalie and has 2 sons, Dominic and Anthony.
Lisa completed her undergraduate work at the Ohio State University and earned a masters degree from Ashland University in Educational Administration. She joined Marysville Schools in 2006, teaching a combination 7th and 8th grade students science and math. She serves on many committees within her school, directs the school musical, and has coached various sports. Lisa lives in Dublin with her husband and two children.
Serving as Executive Secretary of OMLA since 2009, Dona joined the OMLA Executive Board in 1998 as a Southwest Regional Representative. She held the office of vice-president of the organization from 2005 to 2009. Dona taught middle level science for fifteen year in the Hamilton City School district. She joined the administrative team of Middletown City Schools in 1994 and was a high school assistant principal for two years. During her five years as Vail Middle School principal, she led the transition of their awarded middle level program. After two years as the Secondary Curriculum Coordinator, Dona wanted to return to building level administration and completed her thirty year career as a principal of Nagel Middle School in Cincinnati. As a presenter, she had the opportunity to share her experiences at multiple NMSA/AMLE National Conferences, OMLA State Conferences, OASSA Middle Level Conference, Nuts and Bolts Middle Level Symposiums, U.S. Department of Education Conference for State Technology Directors in Washington, D.C., ODE Teaching and Learning State Conference, and SchoolNet/Soita State Conferences. Dona received her M.Ed. in Leadership and Curriculum, M.Ed. in Secondary Science, and B.S. in Secondary Science degrees from Miami University, Oxford, Ohio. She also attended The Western College as an undergrad for three years.
Mike Kauffeld graduated from Capital University in 1988 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and Comprehensive Social Studies. He received his Masters Degree in education administration from Ashland University in 2004. Mike coached football at Capital University from 1990 until 1995. He became the Athletic Director at Hamilton Township High School in 1995 and taught social studies and US Government until 2001. Mike has been with the Teays Valley Local School District since 2002. He served as a high school social studies teacher, football coach, and middle school assistant principal. He currently serves as the principal at Teays Valley West Middle School, an Ohio School to Watch. Mike's wife, Jenniffer, is a principal with the South Western City Schools.
Scott is the principal at General Sherman Junior High School in the Lancaster City Schools district. Previous to becoming principal, he was a teacher of various subjects in the building and football and basketball coach in the district. He received his Bachelor’s Degree from Capital University in Elementary Education and Specific Learning Disabilities. He received his Master’s Degree in Educational Administration from Ashland University and is currently pursuing his Superintendent’s license. In 2014 Scott was recognized as an Outstanding Principal by the Coalition of Rural and Appalachian Schools. During his tenure, General Sherman has been repeatedly recognized as one of the top schools in the state in their Value Added measure. Scott lives in Pickerington with his wife Kristi and sons Nate and Chase.
Tiffany Shaw graduated from Muskingum College with a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education and Psychology. She continued her education earning a Master’s Degree in Curriculum & Instruction and Educational Administration also from Muskingum College. Tiffany is currently a lead teacher within the Tuscarawas Valley Local School District and Master Teacher with Project Lead The Way. During the summer months, Tiffany trains hundreds of teachers equipping them with the framework of STEM education. She has led student and adult groups through international travel bringing classroom lessons to life. Tiffany has been awarded the WTUV Teachers Are Tops Award, and is a Class Coordinator for Financial Peace University, where she has taught both staff and community members. She is a member of Delta Kappa Gamma, an educational women’s honorary organization, currently serving as Vice-President. Tiffany and her husband, Matt, have two children; Olivia and Sophia.
Michelle completed her undergrad and graduate work at Ashland University and currently serves as an adjunct professor at the university. She has taught at Independence Middle School since 2006 and currently teaches 6th grade ELA. She is the student council advisor, volleyball coach, and serves on various professional committees at the school. She has presented at state and national conferences, received various awards at the city and state level, and was part of the 2012 OMLA Team of the Year. Michelle resides in Strongsville with her husband Tony, their sons, Griffin and Oliver, and their dog Oscar.
Leo Spagnola graduated in 1998 from Bluffton College with a Bachelor’s Degree in 1-8 Elementary Education. He received his Master’s Degree in Educational Administration from Ashland University. Leo is currently the Principal at Hillside Middle School, part of the Parma City Schools District. Prior to becoming Principal at Hillside, Leo served as the principal for three years at South Amherst Middle School, part of the Firelands Local School District. Leo was an Assistant Principal/District Athletic Director for Firelands as well. Leo has been an administrator for the last eight years and was a classroom teacher for nine years prior to his administrative roles. Leo taught various middle school subjects for Fairview Park City Schools as well as Amherst Exempted Village Schools. He currently resides in Avon Lake with his wife April, a teacher at Avon Lake, and their three children Isabella, Silas and Lukas.
Jeffrey Cicerchi is currently the principal at North Royalton Middle School. Prior to serving as principal, he was an assistant principal at NRMS for five years. Before going into educational leadership, he taught sixth grade for three years at NRMS and one year in the Riverside Local Schools. He is a 2005 graduate of Baldwin-Wallace College with a degree in middle childhood education and a 2009 graduate of Ursuline College with a master’s degree in education administration. He currently lives in North Royalton with his wife Steff and three children, Landyn, Owen, and Raelyn.
Tina is a graduate of the University of Akron and Ashland University. She has served middle level students in the Coventry Local Schools since 1995. She has been the Principal at Coventry Middle School (formerly Erwine Middle School) since 2003. She has presented at both state and national conferences. Coventry Middle School has been recognized as a state and national School to Watch, Ohio Department of Education School of Promise and an Ohio Department of Education High Progress School of Honor. Additionally, Coventry Middle School has earned Component Awards and a Regional Award for Best Practice from OMLA.
Rebecca has been teaching since 1992. She has taught 6th, 7th and 8th grade science and is currently teaching 7th grade science at Hudson Middle School. She has served on the Ohio Middle Level Association board since 1996 and is currently a NE Associate Representative.
Nick Discenza is a 2001 graduate of Bowling Green State University and has spent his entire career working at the middle level. Nick has taught social studies at Heskett Middle School in Bedford and at Shiloh Middle School in Parma. Nick served as assistant principal at Willowick Middle School for six years and currently serves as principal at Shiloh Middle School in Parma.
Lee is the District Title I Data Coach and Data coordinator for the Lima City Schools. He was in middle level education for thirty years teaching math and then as an instructional coach. Lee has a B.A. from Wittenberg University and a M.A. Ed. from Bowling Green State University. Lee and his wife, Doris have two grown sons and one “middle level” Labradoodle and reside in Lima.
Melissa Stanton moved to Ohio with her husband in 2000, where she started her career as a special education teacher. In that time, Melissa has mainly taught students with learning disabilities in the resource room but has also spent time working with students with emotional and behavioral disorders. In 2008, Melissa achieved her National Board Certification in Exceptional Education. She splits her teaching responsibilities with teaching iPad class to all 6th and 7th grade students and also her resource room reading classes. Melissa lives in Findlay with her husband Mike, her 2 kids and a dog.
Kristen graduated from Otterbein College with her Bachelor’s degree in 2007. She earned her Master’s degree through Walden University. She is a 7th and 8th grade math teacher at New Lexington Middle School where she has spent her entire career. She has presented at numerous state and national conferences, has been published in AMLE Magazine, and was a co-recipient of a Rural Trust Global Fellowship to visit schools in Australia. Her favorite day of the school year is Pi Day, and she has recorded several Pi Day parody videos to entertain her students and colleagues.
Stephanie Paul serves students as a grade 8 language arts teacher and as an adjunct instructor at Ohio University in the Patton College of Education. She has research interests in the middle school concept in rural settings, and in examining how best to meet at-risk students where they are as readers in the era of the Common Core through diverse YAL book pairings and middle level best practices intended to serve the unique needs of the young adolescent. Stephanie also serves on her school's building leadership team, has coached other teachers in the past and led professional development, and enjoys mentoring teacher-candidates in her classroom. She enjoys exchanging ideas with colleagues having presented on a variety of topics at regional, state, and national professional conferences for the organizations in which she is active: OMLA, AMLE, and NCTE. Stephanie presently lives in the rural, Appalachian region of southeastern Ohio. .
Since 2007, Sarah Keen has been a middle school math teacher at Trimble Middle School. She has also worked as a math coach for her school district. Keen earned her BSE in Middle Childhood Education from Otterbein University, and her MSE in Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment from Walden University. As an undergraduate, Keen wrote a thesis on the Appalachian culture and its influence on education while piloting a student-teaching experience at a mission school in Eastern Kentucky. She has presented at numerous state and national conferences, and in 2013, Keen was named Outstanding Mathematics Teacher for Southeastern Ohio.
Amy Peck is currently the middle school principal of North Ridgeville Academic Center. Prior to her tenure in North Ridgeville, she was an administrator in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District. The 2017-18 school year marks Amy's eighteenth year as a school administrator. Prior to administration, Amy taught in Cleveland, Lakewood and Florida. In addition to Amy's principal license, she also holds superintendent's licensure. She resides in Avon with her husband Patrick and her two sons, Ian and Elliott.
Brenda completed her undergraduate work at the Kent State University and earned a 4-9 teaching license from Ashland University. She joined Sheffield-Sheffield Lake Schools in 2009, teaching a combination of 7th grade math and pre-algebra. She serves on many committees within her school. Brenda lives in Avon with her husband and three children.
Dave Slamer currently serves as the Principal at Edgewood Middle School in Trenton, Ohio. Previous to his current role he served as the Assistant Principal at Edgewood Middle School for 1 year, taught Social Studies at Fairfield Senior High School for 2 years, and taught Social Studies for 6 years at Twin Valley South High School. Dave did his undergraduate work at Miami University, received his Master's Degree from Wright State University, and did his Principalship work at the University of Dayton. He has found his niche in middle level education and enjoys working with an ever-changing group of students. Dave lives in Lebanon with his wife Lindsay, a fellow educator, son Cole, and daughter Celia.
Jennifer graduated from Shawnee State University in 1992 with a Bachelor Degree in Elementary Education. In over 20 years of teaching, Jennifer has taught first grade, eighth and seventh grade Language Arts and Social Studies. Jennifer began teaching middle level students in the Kings Local School District in 2001. During this time, Jennifer has worked on various professional committees, including organizing the application process for Ohio Schools to Watch and serving on the Building Leadership Team at KJH. She has presented at regional and state OMLA conferences and was a recipient of a Regional Award for Best Practice from OMLA. In addition, Jennifer enjoys being on the state application and site evaluation teams for Ohio Schools to Watch. She resides in Middletown with her husband, Barry and their two dogs, Charlie and Tanner.
Brian graduated from Bluffton College in 1994 and received his master’s degree from BGSU in 2001 and is currently working on his superintendent licensure through the University of Findlay. He has been the principal at Parkway Middle School in Rockford, OH since 2012. Under his leadership, Parkway has improved academic achievement, implemented an outstanding STEM program, and has won state and regional OMLA awards. Prior to serving the Parkway district, Brian was a teacher, coach, athletic director, and middle school dean of students at Spencerville Schools. Brian resides in Lima with his wife Julie, a teacher at Spencerville, and his three children Leah, Sarah, and Michael.
Katie Weisenbarger began her teaching career in 2006 in Beavercreek, Ohio, as a middle school teacher. She has been teaching language arts and/or math as well as holding various coaching positions at the middle level. Katie is a proud graduate of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio and has a master's degree in education from Indiana Wesleyan University. Some proud moments in her career include being awarded her district's Outstanding Classroom Teacher Award, the OMLA Regional Award, and serving as a board member for the West Region of OMLA. She lives outside of Dayton, Ohio with her husband and two young sons.
John currently works as a middle school guidance counselor at Mayfield Middle School, where he has been an educator for over 20 years. Before becoming a school counselor, he taught sixth grade science. John has had the opportunity to be a presenter at Ohio Middle Level Association and Association for Middle Level Education Conferences. John is the web site manager for OMLA.
Stacy is an English Language Arts content specialist in the Office of Curriculum and Assessment at the Ohio Department of Education. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Secondary English Education in 2003 and her master’s in Educational Curriculum and Instruction in 2010. Before coming to work for the ODE, she was and English teacher for more than 10 years in Ohio and Indiana and a curriculum coach for two years in Indiana. She is currently working on her dissertation for her Ph.D. in Educational Studies from Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. Stacy lives in southeast Columbus with her husband, David, and their three children, Alyssa, Coralee, and Beckett.
As the Director of Middle Level Services for the Association of Middle Level Education, Dru Tomlin, Ph.D. has a commitment to educational improvement and a passion for teaching, learning, and middle school. In 1994, Dru began his 18 year career in education as an English teacher at Harrisonburg High School in Virginia and then, in 1998, he discovered the joys of middle school in Georgia as a language arts, reading, and social studies teacher and then as a school administrator. He has also been a school system staff development trainer and a faculty member for AMLE’s Leadership Institute, believing firmly in the power of professional learning. For his work, Dru has been recognized as a school system Teacher of the Year and as Georgia’s Middle School Assistant Principal of the Year. He holds a Ph.D. in Teaching and Learning and a M.S. in Educational Leadership from Georgia State University and a B.A. in English/Secondary Education from James Madison University.
Ken Baker served as an English Teacher in the Lakota Local School District (Butler) following graduation from Miami University. All of his graduate coursework was completed at Bowling Green State University. Ken was named a building principal at the age of 27, serving at Arlington Local Schools. Ken’s experience as a high school principal covered several districts and over 22 years. He also served as superintendent for St. Mary City Schools in Auglaize County. Ken assumed the Associate Executive Director position at OASSA in 2006, and was moved to Executive Director in 2013.
Dr. ThedaMarie Gibbs is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Teacher Education at Ohio University. She obtained her Ph.D. in Curriculum, Instruction & Teacher Education with a specialization in Language & Literacy and Urban Education from Michigan State University. She currently teaches undergraduate and graduate foundational reading and literacy research courses. Her research explores how to create more equitable learning spaces that embrace the literacies and lived experiences of African American youth both in and beyond school. Through a second line of research, she explores how teacher preparation programs prepare prospective teachers to develop culturally relevant teaching practices in all content areas, with an emphasis on reading courses.