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About Us

The International Association of Laboratory Schools (IALS) is an international association of university or college-affiliated schools engaged in practices of teacher training, curriculum development, research, professional growth, and educational experimentation for the purpose of supporting member’s schools, and as a voice speaking for the improvement of learning for all children.

Traditionally laboratory schools' commitment has been to assist in preparing teachers while delivering quality instructional programs for children in the classroom. These schools are affiliated with a college or university for specific purposes that go beyond the scope of traditional public and private institutions. Over the years, the laboratory schools have changed to reflect the diverse needs of the teaching professional and have often led the way in improving the science and art of teaching.

IALS was formerly NALS

After more than 50 years as the National Association of Laboratory Schools (NALS), and a brief period as NALS: The International Association of Laboratory and University Affiliated Schools, our organization's Board of Directors decided to change the name to the International Association of Laboratory Schools (IALS). The acronym IALS better reflects our current global membership and goals for future expansion. Under all three names, we intentionally take a very broad definition of "laboratory schools" as including campus-based schools, and others with diverse university affiliations, such as charter schools, professional development schools, child study institutes, research and development schools, etc.

To honor the long history and significant impact of the National Association of Laboratory Schools (NALS), we have preserved the name NALS on documents generated under that name. Notice the newsletter names on the Publications page as a clear example of that convention.

Board of Directors

Board of Directors

Meet our Team

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Nicolás Ramos

Executive Director

Nicolás Ramos is Assistant Professor at the University of Puerto Rico Secondary School. He has worked at the lab schools since the fall of 2002. In 2007 he was appointed Director and he held that position until August 2014. Since then, he has been teaching English at the Secondary School. He has worked with student-teachers for over 15 years and currently teaches a seminar on Legal Aspects of Education at the College of Education. Nicolás has served on the IALS Board of Directors since 2008 and hosted the Annual Conference in 2016. When not teaching at the school, Nicolás enjoys sightseeing and traveling.

School Affiliation
University of Puerto Rico Secondary School
School Affiliation
The Kilby Laboratory School located at the University of North Alabama

Dr. Eric Kirkman


Dr. Eric Kirkman is  an Assistant Professor and the Director of the Kilby Laboratory School located at the University of North Alabama. Dr. Kirkman is entering his 21st year of education, after serving as a Band and Choral Director, Career Tech Director, vice-principal and principal. Over the span of his career, Dr. Kirkman has served as a teacher and administrator at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. Under Dr. Kirkman's leadership, Kilby Lab School has earned numerous awards and recognitions (99 out of 100 on the Alabama State Report Card). Kilby is also a National Blue Ribbon Lighthouse School of Excellence. Dr. Kirkman currently teaches Instructional leadership courses in the College of Education at the University of North Alabama, in addition to his Director duties. He is married to Dr. Tera Kirkman, and they have two sons, Jalen and Justin.

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Jill Sarada


Jill Sarada is the Interim Director of Elementary Grades at Falk Laboratory School, University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Prior to this role, she served two years as the Assistant Director, three years as the Director of Admissions and Community Partnerships, and 18 years as a kindergarten teacher.  In addition to her work for Falk, she teaches classes for the School of Education at the University of Pittsburgh. She has served as a mentor teacher to students and colleagues for over 20 years. 


Jill is a Past President, 2016, and has served as a Board member since 2013. She is a founding member of the Pittsburgh Alliance of University Schools, an organization that brings together the five university-affiliated schools within the city of Pittsburgh. She actively works to support learning and collaboration among the teachers beyond lab schools through partnerships with Pittsburgh Public Schools.  She is currently an EdD student in the School Leadership Program at the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Education.

School Affiliation

Falk Laboratory School, University of Pittsburgh
School Affiliation
Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study Laboratory School at the University of Toronto

Chriss Bogert


Chriss Bogert is the Vice-Principal at the Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study Laboratory School (JICS), University of Toronto. Chriss graduated from the teacher education program at JICS in 1994 and has since been an educator, parent, and administrator at the Lab School. She first taught Junior Kindergarten for the Lab School at the University of Western Ontario, and worked as a supply teacher for public schools, before returning to teach the Nursery program at JICS. Chriss was the Teacher Librarian and Technology Integrator for 5 years, and also served as Vice President and President on the JICS Parents’ Association. A long-time proponent of the importance of supporting educational research, Chriss has served as the research coordinator for many years, and chairs the Child Research Review Committee for the Lab School. She has been dedicated in her role as Vice Principal to fulfill the purpose of the lab school through seeking out and supporting collaborations with other researchers and educators. Chriss is also a student in the  EdD in Child Study and Education program at JICS studying how to best foster engagement and motivation with learning, through a children’s rights lens.

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Elizabeth Morley

International Committee-Chair

Elizabeth Morley is Principal Emerita of the Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study Laboratory School at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto. She serves as Chair, International Committee of the International Association of Laboratory Schools and is IALS Past President.  She is a visiting scholar at Kobe Shinwa University in Japan where she has been involved in the education of teachers and in researching Lesson Study.  With an IALS Research Grant, Ms. Morley studied the teaching of Haiku poetry in second language classes in Canada and Mexico.  She is a Co-Editor of a journal for educators, published at New York’s Teachers College, Columbia University. She was part of a team that published a book, Natural Curiosity: Building Children’s Understanding of the World Through Environmental Inquiry about the Jackman ICS Lab School’s inquiry-based approach to teaching and learning. The book is in the hands of teachers in every school in Ontario, Canada, and in other schools around the world.

School Affiliation
Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study Laboratory School
OISE, University of Toronto
School Affiliation
Center for University Outreach at Carnegie Mellon University

Jean Bird


Jean Thompson Bird grew up in Pittsburgh and graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in Child Development.  She taught in the Children’s School for seven years and then continued to work part-time for the DASH project (Developmental Approaches to Science, Health, and Technology), which was a part of the Center for University Outreach at Carnegie Mellon University. She returned to the Children’s School staff thirteen years ago as an extended morning teacher and has been teaching Extended Morning and the Older 4’s class full time since 2005.  Music, woodworking, science, and exploring books and stories are some of Jean’s favorite activities to do with children. Jean is active in the mission and outreach work of Waverly Church, including directing the Children & Youth Ministry program and teaching early childhood classes. She especially enjoys performing in and producing the Waverly Opera House, a yearly melodramatic show that raises funds for youth programming. Jean’s husband Jim adds some cool factor into the family as a rock and roll guitar and bass player for the cover band, SpinCycle. Jean and Jim have three daughters. Emilie and Ahleajha are students at the Community College of Allegheny County. Darrah is a second year graduate student at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and recently married PJ Pfueffer.  Darrah and Emilie both have fond memories of the Children’s School as alumni.



Board Member

Abigail Comber was born and raised just outside of Portland, Oregon. She earned Bachelor and Master degrees in English from Portland State University, and earned a Master’s in Education from Pacific University. Her first teaching position was at Eastside Catholic High School near Seattle, Washington. It was her time teaching at this small, innovative school that ignited her passion for student-centered, inquiry-based education. When she returned to university to complete a PhD in English Literature, she was fortunate to find her way to Ball State University and to learn about Burris Laboratory School. Abbie started at Burris as an English teacher in 2008; she was a classroom teacher for ten years before earning building and district level leadership certifications and moving into administration, serving first as assistant principal and then taking over as Principal and Chairperson in 2021. Under Dr. Comber’s leadership, Burris Laboratory School has reconnected with IALS and has committed itself to developing innovative practices and cultivating practitioner-scholars. In her spare time, Abbie works puzzles of all kinds and takes any opportunity to vacation in Disney World with her husband and two children.

School Affiliation

Burris Laboratory Schoo,
all State University
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Ceceile Minott

Board Member

Ceceile Minott is the Head of the Caribbean Child Development Centre and the Director for the Consortium for Social Development and Research, The University of the West Indies Open Campus.


Mrs. Minott academic interest centres on education and counselling particularly at the early childhood and adolescent levels and have published in these areas in peered review journals. She lead the team that developed the first Laboratory Preschool in Jamaica, the Continuing Education Programme in Early Childhood Education being offered in the Caribbean region as well as the first online MPhil/PhD in Child, Adolescent and Youth Studies for The University of the West Indies Open Campus.


Mrs. Minott has served on a number of technical committees both nationally and regionally to inform policy and holds a Master in Education with specialization in Counselling from the University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida, USA.

School Affiliation
Caribbean Child Development Centre at The University of the West Indies Open Campus


Board Member

Dr Christian Timo Zenke is an Assistant Professor at Bielefeld University’s Faculty of Educational Science. In his work at the Laboratory School Research Unit, he collaborates with teachers from Laborschule Bielefeld in various research and development projects on inclusion, democratic education, and classroom design. He is also the initiator of the EU-funded Erasmus+ project LabSchoolsEurope: Participatory Research for Democratic Education.

School Affiliation

Bielefeld University


Board Member

Dr. Barbara Meyer is an Associate Professor in the School of Teaching & Learning at Illinois State University, Normal IL, USA. She served as Acting Director for the Illinois State University Laboratory Schools from June 2020 until June 2022. She also served as Associate Dean for the College of Education from 2014-2023. She teaches courses in Secondary Teacher Education and Curriculum. Dr. Meyer's research focus is on University Laboratory Schools in the United States and Instructional Methods for the  high school classroom.

School Affiliation

School of Teaching and Learning,
llinois State University
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Laura King

Board Member

Laura King is the Director of Horace Mann Laboratory School and Leet Center for Children and Families at Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville, Missouri. In addition, Laura serves as an adjunct instructor for Northwest Missouri State University, teaching and collaborating with a faculty research team. Laura is in the dissertation phase of obtaining her EdD in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis from the University of Missouri – Columbia. Her research interests include foundational reading development, multiage classrooms, the Reggio Emilia Approach, and the impact of laboratory schools on recruitment and retention in educator preparation programs. Laura’s greatest joy outside work is spending time with her six adult children and four grandchildren.

School Affiliation

Horace Mann Laboratory School, Northwest Missouri State University
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