About Us

The International Association of Laboratory Schools (IALS) is an international association of laboratory and university affiliated schools engaged in practices of teacher training, curriculum development, research, professional development, 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

Meet our Team

Wade Smith


Wade Smith has been the Superintendent of the LSU Laboratory School since 2002. Prior to that, he taught higher education and educational leadership courses at Auburn University. Wade was a middle school principal for 13 years and taught biology and chemistry for 11 years. He maintains an active research agenda focusing upon school effectiveness and school improvement.

School Affiliation
LSU Laboratory School

Patricia Diebold

Executive Director

Patricia Elizabeth Diebold has for the past 30 years dedicated her educational career to being a teacher and administrator. Her teaching experiences were both in public and private schools. Prior to recently retiring from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, Patricia served for over fifteen years as the Assistant and then the Director of Miller Laboratory School and Campus Child Care Center on the Edinboro University campus. She then served the University for six years as the Assistant to the Dean of Arts and Sciences.

School Affiliation
Miller Laboratory School and Campus Child Care Center

Elizabeth Morley

International Committee-Chair

Elizabeth Morley is Principal of the Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study Laboratory School at the University of Toronto where she leads a unique school that has substantial impact on public policy through its research and its practice. The school has a long history of exemplary practice from Kindergarten through the Elementary grades. Ms. Morley has credentials in Early Childhood Education and in Elementary Teaching and began her career teaching young children. At the University of Toronto, she has researched effective programming in the early years, and has been involved in the education of teachers who work with young children. In 2011, she was part of a team that published a book, Natural Curiosity, about the 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 at the University of Toronto

Nicolás Ramos

Board Member

Nicolás Ramos has been a teacher for the past 15 years. He taught English for six years at a public high school before he began working at the University of Puerto Rico Secondary School, where he continues to teach 7th Grade English and Civics Education. Nicolás received a Bachelor degree in Secondary Education at the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico. Later he obtained a Master of Arts at the University of the Sacred Heart in San Juan.  In December 2009 Nicolás completed a Juris Doctorate at the University of Puerto Rico. When he’s not working at the school, Nicolás enjoys sightseeing and traveling.

School Affiliation
University of Puerto Rico Secondary School
School Affiliation
Starpoint School at TCU and KinderFrogs School at TCU

Marilyn Tolbert

Board Member

Marilyn Tolbert, Director and Jean W. Roach Chair of Laboratory Schools at Texas Christian University.  Marilyn is the director of two laboratory schools on the campus of Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas – Starpoint School and KinderFrogs School.  Starpoint School is a private school for children ages 6 to eleven diagnosed with learning differences.  KinderFrogs School is an educational program serving children ages 18 months to 6 years of age with Down syndrome and other developmental delays.  KinderFrogs also serves a small number of typically developing children. Prior to KinderFrogs School, she was the Education Director for River Legacy Living Science Center and the PreSchool Director for River Legacy Nature School.  She was a principal and kindergarten/first grade teacher in public schools for six years.  Prior to her educational experience, she worked in business for 20 years before embarking on her  educational career.    Marilyn holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education from Texas Christian University, a Masters of Science degree in Administration from TCU, and an Educational Doctorate Degree in Educational Leadership from TCU. She serves on the board of Kauffman Leadership Academy, the board of the Green Oaks School, is past president of the Down Syndrome Partnership of Tarrant County and is on the board and holds the position President of the National Down Syndrome Congress.  When she is not advocating for and on behalf of children and their families, she loves to travel, read, and spend time with family and friends.

School Affiliation
Laboratory school at Berry College

Debby Belvin

Board Member

Debby Belvin has served in both the public and private school sector for the past 39 years.  She is currently Director of the Berry College Elementary & Middle School which is the Laboratory school at Berry College in Mount Berry, Georgia. Most of her public school work was in Tennessee where she taught grades 1 - 6.  She was charged with creating the middle school at Berry in 2000 and has served as director of the school since 2010. She holds degrees from Tennessee Tech (B.S. Elementary Ed), Xavier University of Louisiana (M.A. - Curriculum & Instruction), and Berry College (Ed.S - Leadership).  She has been active in the IALS organization for the past 15 years.

Jean Bird

Board Member

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.

School Affiliation
Center for University Outreach at Carnegie Mellon University

Konnie Serr

Board Member

Konnie Serr is the 1st grade teacher at Grace B Luhrs University Elementary School, as well as Assistant Professor in the college of Education at Shippensburg University.  Along with teaching 1st grade she plays an active role supervising student teachers and pre-service teachers in the department of Teacher Ed.  Konnie has been at the Lab school for the past 7 years.  Previous to that, she taught Kindergarten, 1st , and 3rd grades for the Shippensburg public school system.  She has attended and the IALS conference every year since coming to the lab school and served as A member of the Board of Directors 2011 – 2014.

School Affiliation
Grace B Luhrs University Elementary School

Sandra Brown Turner

Board Member

Sandra Brown Turner is a native of Memphis, Tennessee. She is a two-time graduate of the University of Memphis and makes it clear that she is an avid Memphis TIGER basketball fan. (The Memphis Grizzlies NBA team is also a favorite.) Her lifelong career in early childhood education has spanned more than 40 years. She has served on local, state, regional and national educational organizations, boards and task forces. From 1988-2000, she was a tenured professor of education at Southwest Tennessee Community College. She currently serves as the Director of the Barbara K. Lipman Early Childhood School and Research Institute at the University of Memphis. Right now, she is hopeful that the Obama administration can get it right with his proposed universal pre-k four year old program for the U.S.

School Affiliation
Barbara K. Lipman Early Childhood School and Research Institute at the University of Memphis

Richard Messina

Board Member

Richard Messina is the Vice Principal at the Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study Lab School at OISE/University of Toronto and he is the Elementary Lead Teacher for the Klingenstein Summer Institute, Teachers College, Columbia. Richard was a classroom teacher for 15 years, teaching Grades 4 - 6 at the Lab School and Grades
1 – 8 in the public school system in Toronto.

School Affiliation
Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study Lab School at OISE/University of Toronto

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