James Nagle Department Chair, Professor of Education



M.A., Ph.D. University of California, Berkeley
J.D. Suffolk University Law School
B.A. Georgetown University

Areas of Expertise:

I focus on middle level and high school teacher learning about how to teach for social justice through personalized and project-based learning.

Courses I Teach:

  • Equity and Learning for Young Adolescents
  • Approaches to Teaching 
  • Educators as Researchers
  • Education Studies Seminar


My research and teaching are closely intertwined. Currently, I am working with middle school and high school teachers as they learn to move away from traditional teaching practices and toward personalized learning as a pedagogy to teach for social justice.

Awards & Recognition

I am co-director of the Middle Grades Collaborative, a professional development organization serving middle school teachers throughout Vermont.  I also serve as co-editor of the Middle Grades Review, an international, peer-reviewed journal for scholars and practitioners who wish to broaden the discourse of middle grades education in the areas of democratic education, innovation, and social justice. 


Favorite Subjects:

Environmental Education, Education Studies Seminar.  I love exploring with students the ways in which the environment can teach us about life and our community.

Favorite Designations:

– Rodos, Greece, 1984

– Bogata, Columbia, 1988

– La Paz, Mexico, 1997

– Hanoi, Vietnam, 2001

– Viana do Castelo, Portugal, 2017

Recent Books Read:

Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson, Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson, and Our Only World  by Wendell Berry

Other Facts:

– I played lacrosse for four years at Georgetown

– I taught at McClymonds Science and Technology High School in Oakland, CA

– I enjoy telemark skiing and hiking

– I have a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Farm – Leap Frog Farm where I grow fruits and vegetables and raise chickens and goats.

Recent News

James Nagle, chair of the College’s Education Department, was a guest on a recent podcast produced by Riley Robinson and titled “The Deeper Dig: Exiting Education” posted on the Vermont news website VTDigger. The Deeper Dig is a weekly podcast from the VTDigger newsroom. The recent conversation among several experts explores reasons why so many school employees in Vermont and elsewhere are leaving the profession. James also was featured in the most recent Saint Michael’s College Magazine (fall/winter 2022) in the lead article, “Can Higher Ed Save Education?”  And, with colleague, John Downes, of the Tarrant Institute for Innovative Education, he published: “A Response to Critical Reflections on Personalized Project-Based Learning,” (In D. Virtue (Ed.), Dialogues in Middle Level Education Research. Routledge). Further still, with colleagues from the Middle Grades Research Group on Equity, James wrote a paper for the Associated of Middle Level Education Conference in Orlando, FL, last fall entitled “Institutional challenges faced by middle grades teachers as they engage in equity-oriented initiatives.”
(posted February 2023)

James Nagle of the Saint Michael’s education faculty, along with his collaborator, Professor Penny Bishop at the University of Vermont, has published an article titled “Students: The Missing Link in Teacher Professional Development,” in Education Leadership, the most widely read and disseminated education journal. Nagle and Bishop run the popular statewide Middle Grades Institute every summer—with a booster January conference—and this article showcases their assertion that middle grade students can help inform professional development for teachers.
(posted July 2021)

James Nagle of the Saint Michael’s education faculty on April 21, 2020 gave testimony with fellow educator John Downes to the Vermont Senate Education Committee. Downes is director of The Tarrant Institute for Innovative Education in the College of Education and Social Services at the University of Vermont, while James is professor of education at Saint Michael’s as well as co-director of the Middle Grades Collaborative. The Vermont news website vtdigger took excerpts from their testimony before the committee to post as a commentary on April 27. The topic of their testimony and hence the commentary piece is the view of these two experts that “doing school” remotely is unsustainable.
(posted June 2020)

James Nagle, associate professor in education, and as co-editor with Penny Bishop of University of Vermont has published the themed issue “Technology for Learning in the Middle Grades” in the Middle Grades Review.  James and Penny have been co-editors of the journal since its inception in 2015. The Middle Grades Review provides a forum for critical perspectives within the field of middle grades education. It is a peer-reviewed, multi-media venue for scholars and practitioners who wish to explore issues in democratic education, innovation, and social justice, in relation to middle grades education and early adolescence.
(posted June 2018)

James Nagle, associate professor in education, has published an article in Middle School Journal entitled “Tapping the experts in effective practices: Students as educators in middle grades professional development” with two colleagues from UVM. James also has published an article with Main Street Middle School teacher and Saint Michael’s College adjunct professor, Don Taylor, entitled “Using a personal learning framework to transform middle grades teacher practice” in the Middle Grades Research Journal.  He continues to present on the transition toward personalized learning in Vermont middle schools at national conferences such as the Association of Middle Level Educators (AMLE) and at state conferences such as the annual Vermont Information Technology Association for Learning.
(posted December 2017)

James Nagle, associate professor in education, has published an article in Educational Leadership entitled “How Personal Learning is Working in Vermont” with two colleagues from the University of Vermont, Penny Bishop and John Downes. James also has given paper presentations at national and regional conferences about the three pillars of personal learning enacted in Vermont Act 77. At the annual conference of the American Education Research Association (AERA) in Washington, D. C., he presented “Personal Learning Plans: Changing Teacher Practice while Cultivating Engaged Learners in Middle School.” In Austin, TX,at the annual conference of the Association of Middle Level Educators (AMLE), James presented two papers: “Middle Grades Teachers Learn from the Ground Up: PLP Pathways, a Professional Learning Community” and “The Co-Construction of Middle Grades Curriculum in a Personalized and Ubiquitous Learning Environment.” And most recently, at the annual conference of the Vermont Information Technology Association for Learning (VITA-Learn) in Burlington, VT, he presented a case study on how technology can be used to facilitate personalized learning.
(posted June 2017)

James Nagle, associate professor in education, launched the inaugural issue of the Middle Grades Review in April. He is co-editor with Penny Bishop of the University of Vermont. The Review is an online journal that encourages a critical perspective within the field of middle grades education and explores issues in democratic education, technology and innovation, and social justice. It invites authors to submit multimedia essays, research reports, and practitioner perspectives that broaden the discourse of middle grades education. You can access the journal by visiting www.middlegradescollaborative.org
(posted April 2015)

James Nagle, associate professor of education, presented a paper with two colleagues from the University of Vermont entitled Middle Grades Students as Teacher Educators in April at the annual conference of the American Education Research Association (AERA) in Philadelphia, PA. James also gave the keynote address on personalized learning and middle level education at the Middle Grades Institute this past June at the University of Vermont.
(posted August 2014)

James Nagle, associate professor of education, had his edited book published in December 2013. English Learner Instruction through Collaboration and Inquiry in Teacher Education describes different ways in which teachers learn to teach English learners. It features collaborative practices between college faculty and public school teachers as they work together to develop innovative English learner programs in elementary, middle and high schools throughout the country.
(March 2014)

James Nagle, associate professor of education, and Elizabeth O’Dowd, professor of applied linguistics, presented a keynote speech October 25 at the annual conference of the Massachusetts Association for Colleges of Teacher Education, at Holy Cross College in Worcester, MA. The talk was entitled “Bridging the Divide: Project CREATE Brings Interdisciplinary Educators into Collaboration for Academic Literacy.” It explained the concept and implementation behind the recent five-year federal grant project, CREATE, and demonstrated applications of systemic functional linguistics (SFL) for improving academic literacy. Also, James presented another paper about Project CREATE at the annual conference of the Northern New England Teachers of English for Speakers of Languages (NNETESOL) at the University of Southern Maine on November 9. The paper presentation entitled, Evaluating English Learner Curriculum Reform in a Teacher Education Program, was co-authored by undergraduate mathematics student, Maura O’Riordan, and described the improvement of pre-service teachers at Saint Michael’s College instructing English learners in public schools. (November 2013)

James Nagle, associate professor of education, presented two papers in November 2012 at the annual conference of the Association of Middle Level Educators (AMLE) in Portland, OR. The papers were entitled “Co-teaching to enhance science literacy” and “Professional development using the Vermont policy document – Middle school is not a building.” In January he co-hosted with Penny Bishop from University of Vermont and Kathleen Brinegar from Johnson State College the Vermont Middle Grades Conference – an annual showcase of middle-level teaching throughout Vermont.

James Nagle, associate professor of education, as co-director of the Vermont Middle Grades Collaborative, hosted the Fifth Annual Middle Grades Conference: Partnering in the Middle on January 14, 2012 at the Davis Center on the UVM campus. The conference showcased effective middle grades practice throughout Vermont. This year over 100 Vermont teachers and teacher educators shared their work from their classroom and schools. The Middle Grades Collaborative also sponsors the Middle Grades Institute, which is a week-long summer professional development retreat for middle level teachers and principals. The other co-director is UVM professor Penny Bishop. The Collaborative consists of faculty from UVM, Johnson State College and Saint Michael’s College.