In the fall of 1975, Galen Crowder, the principal of Laredo Middle School, and John Swaim, an assistant professor at the University of Northern Colorado, were invited to deliver a presentation to the National Middle School Association in which they suggested holding the 1977 National Middle School Conference in Denver. Given that NMSA was hesitant at that time to move its conference as far west as Colorado, they were thrilled and surprised when the suggestion was adopted.
Although Galen and John had backing from UNC and several Colorado school districts, they were missing one critical tool necessary for hosting the conference a state middle school association that would help plan and organize the conference. Thus, CAMLE was born.
Creating a state middle school association was no easy task because in 1975 there were only a handful of states that even had state middle school associations. Colorado was not only one of the first states to form a middle school association, but it has the unique distinction of being the only state that hosted a national conference before forming its own state association.
Although the 1977 Denver Conference provided a rallying point for CAMLE during those early years, the visions of those involved went far beyond the conference itself. Their concern for adolescent students in Colorado became the core set of beliefs for which CAMLE would stand. They envisioned an organization that would provide professional development and support for emerging middle school educators as well as become an advocate for middle school philosophy in Colorado and the Rocky Mountain West.
Since 1977, CAMLE has not only hosted its own state conference each year, but Colorado is the only state that has hosted three national NMSA Conferences. Also, due in part to CAMLE’s efforts, Colorado became one of the first states to recognize middle school teacher certification and licensure.
Although CAMLE has accomplished a great deal, the greater challenge still lies ahead. As middle level education is always in a process of becoming, so must CAMLE if it is to continue to build upon the vision of its founders. While CAMLE has a proud history, its commitment and ability to stay the course in these challenging times is of even greater importance.
The middle level students of Colorado deserve nothing less.