James Nagle Department Chair, Professor of Education

James Nagle


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:

  • Creating and Sustaining Middle Grades Communities
  • Approaches to Teaching 
  • Education Studies Seminar


I focus on the intersection of educational policy and teacher’s work to understand how educational reforms affect teaching and learning in middle and high schools. Currently, I am working with middle school educators as they move to more culturally sustaining pedagogy.

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.

Recent News

James Nagle, chair of the Saint Michael’s Education Department, as part of a middle grades research group, which includes faculty from University of Maine, University of Georgia, University of Vermont, and Kennesaw State University, is investigating the experiences middle school educators as they implement justice-oriented initiatives in their schools. The group has published one article, “Navigating Common Challenges: Guidelines for Educators in racial Justice Work” in Middle School Journal, and has another article under review. (posted October 2023)

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)


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.