Magnet Schools of America Newsletter
August 2017
Meeting the Challenges of a New School Year 

"Unless our children begin to learn together, there is little hope that our people will ever begin to live together." 

Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall 

I hope each of you had an enjoyable summer break spent with family and friends. As we begin a new school year and return to our busy work routines, I encourage you take a few moments to reflect and contemplate about the meaningful service that you provide as magnet school leaders and educators. Think about the potential that you have to make a real difference in the lives of so many students and the communities in which you live. On a daily basis you hold the key to help students grow as learners and as human beings. 

Given the recent disturbing news stemming from racism and prejudice, our work as magnet educators is vitally important. As our nation tries to cope with the senseless acts of violence that occurred in Charlottesville, Virginia we must commit ourselves to a more peaceful coexistence that adheres to the words penned by Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall over forty years ago, "Unless our children begin to learn together, there is little hope that our people will ever begin to live together."

I am personally reminded how magnet schools are a perfect vehicle for providing a diverse environment for respect, collaboration and understanding of others. Throughout the school year, you will undoubtedly face many challenges and obstacles. I urge you to meet them head on and use them as opportunities to grow on your road to success. Magnet Schools of America (MSA) is ready to travel along with you on this journey!

I encourage you to visit our website and take advantage of all the outstanding offerings MSA provides through our National Institute for Magnet School Leadership, ongoing webinars, conferences and events, legislative outreach, magnet certification, and national awards programs. I also recommend that you review the Mission Statement and Five Pillars of MSA to help you provide exceptional and equitable opportunities for your students, to engage your communities and elected leaders, and build those everlasting relationships. 


Sara Wheeler
President, Magnet Schools of America 

Magnets by Design 

Register now for the annual fall technical assistance and training conference in Bloomington-Minneapolis, MN, October 4-6, 2017. Experience a journey through the opportunities and services members are requesting from MSA's National Institute for Magnet School Leadership (NIMSL)!

Build and strengthen your leadership teams and their capacity to support your schools and programs. This technical assistance conference will provide teachers, school and district leaders, and school advocates a unique lens into the world of the Standards of Excellence and beyond.

Sessions will focus on magnet entrepreneurship, strategic opportunities, innovative magnet practices, and leveraging diversity.

Magnet School Tours

The fall conference will be held in collaboration withe Minneapolis Public Schools and will feature tours of the district's magnet programs that include International Baccalaureate, STEM, Montessori, Foreign Language and more.

Keynote Speakers
  • Ed GraffSuperintendent, Minneapolis Public Schools
  • Dr. Brenda Cassellius, Minnesota Commissioner of Education
  • Steven Unowsky, Superintendent, Richfield Public Schools
Magnet School Shark Tank

Back by popular demand, MSA will host its own version of the hit television show Shark Tank where top educational companies will demonstrate how their products can support and enhance your schools and  classrooms. 

Certification Coaching Sessions

Coaching and guidance will be offered to schools currently in the Standards of Excellence Certification program.

Please visit the conference website to register and make your hotel reservations.  
First Nationally Certified
Magnet Schools Announced!

Magnet Schools of America (MSA), is proud to announce the first cohort of nationally certified magnet schools. These 55 schools located in 12 states (AL, CA, CT, FL, LA, MD, NC, NV, SC, TN, TX, and WI) successfully went through a nine month evaluation process and demonstrated through evidence, reflection, and strategic action that they have established the Magnet School Standards of Excellence in their schools. 

"The certification process is groundbreaking and the first of its kind. It was created to recognize our most exemplary magnet programs," said MSA Executive Director Todd Mann. "In an increasingly complex school choice environment, parents, families, students, and local communities can be assured of the quality of education that is provided in each certified magnet school."

Among the first cohort of nationally certified schools, ten were identified as National Demonstration Schools. These schools exceeded the criteria outlined in the Standards of Excellence and are models that should be closely studied and replicated. The Demonstration Schools will serve as learning laboratories for school innovation and improvement for others to observe and follow.

"This is an important moment and opportunity to showcase the transformative leadership and instructional best practices that are integrated into these exceptional schools," said Kelly Bucherie, National Director for Magnet School Leadership. "The bar has been set high for magnet schools and other choice programs. Achieving this prominent status should inspire others to strive for similar levels of excellence."

The first cohort of applicants included 110 schools. Among these schools, 55 were certified, 39 filed for an extension to become certified, and 16 schools did not successfully complete the process. A second and third cohort of schools will go through national certification during the 2017-2018 school year. 

To see a complete list of the Nationally Certified and Demonstration Schools, please see our national press release

Get Ready for Merit Award Season! 

To kick off the fall release of the annual Merit Award application season, MSA is hosting a webinar featuring the top five 2017 winners. Each year more than 300 schools submit merit award applications and provide student success data and highlight the exemplary and unique aspects of their magnet programs. At the MSA national conference in Chicago, April 25-29, 2018 the winning schools will be recognized as merit awardees of excellence and distinction and the top awards of excellence will be announced. 

During the webinar, the 2017 winners will answer questions about their programs and the application process. Tune into to hear from the nation's top magnet school, Idlewild Elementary, a Title I learning immersion and talent development school in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school district. Learn about Minnesota's Glacier Hills Elementary of Arts and Science and Clark County's Walter Bracken STEAM Academy Elementary School. Glacier Hills is an arts and science school that uses natural curiosity and creativity to expand inquiry skills and explore real life challenges. The STEAM school features learning labs and outdoor learning areas. Due to the success of the program at Bracken, Clark County has expanded it to two other elementary schools. 

At the secondary level, you will hear from Baylor College of Medicine Academy at Ryan and Springfield Renaissance High School. Ryan Middle School is a partner with Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas and Springfield is a college bound Expeditionary Learning school with a STEM focus. This high school has a 100% success record for seniors accepted to two and four year colleges.
We hope you will join us for this webinar to learn about strong partnerships, innovative programs, and dedicated professionals. Watch for a member email announcing the webinar date and registration instructions.  

MSA is proud to offer this member service as well as other opportunities such as leadership training, and the new national certification process. Both the merit award and the certification process are based on MSA's five pillars but are different in their approach to recognition and school improvement. 

The Merit Awards program is just that, an awards program that is based on a snapshot of the school and a brief application describing the program.  The certification is a deeper process that takes a year and looks more in depth to ensure the school should be certified for four years under the Standards of Excellence. Both are important processes.  The merit can provide an avenue leading to the certification process but neither is mandatory and a school can choose to do one or the other or both. All MSA programs are designed to recognize and improve magnet schools. 

Susan King
MSA President-Elect 

Funding Opportunities for Magnets

Through its Field Trip Grants program, Target awards grants of up to $700 to K-12 schools nationwide to defray the cost of field trips. It is accepting grant applications between August 1-October 1, 2017.

Captain Planet Foundation Grants fund projects that provide hands-on environmental stewardship opportunities for youth and environment-based education programs. The foundation primarily makes grants to schools and organizations with an annual operating budget of less than $3 million. The maximum award is $2,500. The deadline to apply is September 30, 2017.

The foundation is accepting grant applications from pre-K-12 educators who need financial assistance to maintain or implement an arts education program in the 2018-19 school year. Grants of up to $1,000 will be awarded to support new or evolving programs that integrate the arts into educational programming.Application Deadline:  September 30, 2017.

Constellation is accepting grant applications for local community-based projects designed to inspire students to think differently about energy. Grants of up to $25,000 will be awarded for projects at the 6-12 grade level. The company will give priority to team-oriented, learning-focused, hands-on demonstration projects that achieve specific results and reach a minimum of a hundred students. Proposed projects must be  located in areas where Constellation does business. Application Deadline:  October 1, 2017.

The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics is accepting applications from teachers of preK-2 mathematics for projects that incorporate music into the elementary school classroom. Grants of up to $3,000 will be awarded to individual classroom teachers or small groups of teachers collaborating in a single grade or across grade levels. Application Deadline:  November 23, 2017.

Toshiba America Foundation is accepting grant applications from K-5 grade school teachers for innovative science or math projects in their own classroom. The foundation awards individual grants of up to $1,000 in support of hands-on science or math education projects. Application Deadline:  October 1, 2017

Magnets Making News 

Every student has his or her own story and brings a diverse set of perspectives to school each day. Our life experiences and worldview affect how we approach and solve problems.

Following five grueling weeks of developing a cost-effective robotics kit, 15 aspiring entrepreneurs presented and defended their product before investors. Later this month, they return to high school.

The students competed in an international leadership conference in Orlando just a few weeks ago as part of a student group with a focus on health professions.

Two Chicago public high schools topped the 2018 list of best public high schools in the United States that's compiled annually by a website that analyzes and evaluates data from educational institutions and neighborhoods across the country. 

Participants enrolled in the Ecology & Environment STEM camp program explored their local surroundings as they tested soil for nutrient levels, tested water quality of a local stream and sampled the biodiversity of the forest floor. Each day's activities focused around a daily theme.

"What was really nice is this is not a once in a lifetime. In six years from now there will be another partial, but in seven years from now right here in Texarkana - they'll be able...the same kiddos to see a total eclipse of the sun," Dowdy said.

All the tall ships that visit Captain's Cove have long stories to tell, and the Amistad is no different. The Baltimore schooner, launched in 2000, is a recreation of the original Amistad, a slave ship that in 1839 was taken over by its human cargo of 53 captives from Sierra Leone.

* Do you have exciting news to share about the magnet schools in your community? Please send them to:


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Magnet Schools of America memberships expired on June 30, 2017.

To continue receiving important member benefits please make sure to renew your membership for this 
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Please email MSA's Membership Coordinator, Faith Goodwin at
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