Magnet Schools of America Newsletter
         February 2017
35th National Conference - Coming this April!

Join us on a journey to Catch a Rising Star during the 35th National Conference on Magnet Schools April 26-30, 2017 at the Westin Bonaventure Los Angeles. Be sure to register now and take advantage of the early-bird rate, which ends on Friday, March 10

The national conference will be hosted by the Los Angeles Unified School District. LAUSD is the second largest school district in the country. It enrolls more than 557,000 students. Currently, over 70,000 students attend one of the district's 214 magnet programs. If LAUSD's magnet program were its own district, it would rank as the 52nd largest school district in the country. LAUSD's magnet program has a highly distinguished history. Since 1986, 78 magnet schools/centers have been named as California Distinguished Schools. Additionally, 14 magnet schools/centers have been awarded National Blue Ribbon School status. 

During the conference, in addition to visiting LAUSD's award winning magnet schools on the first day, we will hold numerous professional development sessions, that will cater to all magnet school professionals and grade levels. The session strands will focus on the five pillars of magnet schools. 

The conference will also feature keynote speeches, awards ceremonies, student performances, scholarship announcements, and vendor exhibitions. Through our national merit awards program, MSA will also recognize the accomplishments of our nation's most exemplary magnet schools.

We promise, MSA Los Angeles 2017 will be an unforgettable experience!

Keynote Speaker:

An original Freedom Writer whose story is told in part in the 2007 hit movie, Freedom Writers, Manny Scott has energized over a million leaders, educators, volunteers, and students worldwide with his authentic, inspiring messages of hope. 

He is the author of two books: Your Next Chapter, a book that shows people, step-by-step, how to create the life of their dreams; and, How to R.E.A.C.H. Youth Today, a book that shares several proven practices and principles that engage, equip, and empower people everywhere to reach people who seem unreachable.

Hotel Accommodations:  

Westin Bonaventure Los Angeles

404 S, Figueroa Street
Los Angeles, CA 90071

$199 per night + tax
Phone: (800) 937-8461

Group Block Closes: Wednesday, April 5, 2017 at 5PM Pacific DST.

To take advantage of the conference group rate, please mention that you are attending the 35th National Conference on Magnet Schools. You can also make your hotel reservations online

U.S. Secretary of Education Speaks 
During National Policy Conference

Secretary DeVos addresses MSA's Policy Conference.
Making her first public remarks as the new U.S. Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos addressed magnet school leaders at Magnet Schools of America's recent National Policy Training Conference in Washington, DC. MSA invited the Secretary to discuss her vision of magnet schools within the national school choice landscape. Her appearance was also used as an opportunity for us to hear more about Secretary DeVos' priorities now that she's in office, and to expand her understanding of magnet schools at a time when she is formulating her agenda and budget for the next four years.

She began by sharing how she has witnessed the success of magnet schools first-hand and recognized City High Middle School an IB program in her hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan. She added, "After 40 years since the inception of magnet schools, I think it's important to celebrate their important role and also to remind ourselves that there's so much more work to be done. But the reality is: What makes your schools transformative places of learning is not the brick and mortar, it's you, the human connection. You and your teachers are the difference-makers and the life-changers."

MSA Executive Director, Todd Mann asks Secretary DeVos questions about magnet schools. (Photo: Lincoln Photography)
MSA Executive Director, Todd Mann then asked the Secretary several questions related to magnet schools. He asked how magnet schools can gain more attention and support at the federal, state, and local level. The Secretary answered that she is, "agnostic to the delivery method of education, as long as it meets the individual needs of students." She added, "It is clear that magnet schools are doing a tremendous job and that she would like to help us highlight this success by telling our story in a more personal way." 

Mann followed-up and asked the Secretary to describe her views on promoting school diversity as a strategy for improving student achievement. Secretary DeVos responded, "Experiencing and being a part of a diverse environment is critical to the development of any young person, child, or student. Magnet schools focus significantly on school diversity and giving students a broad view of the world. This can't be celebrated enough." Keep Reading...

Flying  Colors 
A monthly column focusing on MSA Members 


This has been a busy school year for the students, teachers and leaders of Douglas L. Jamerson Junior Elementary School (DLJ) in Pinellas County. The magnet school has earned a number of awards, including MSA's School of Excellence Award, they were named the top Elementary STEM program in the nation by the Future of Education Technology Conference, they are a National PTA School of Excellence, and they have also been named a Five Star School by the Florida Department of Education. 

Not only has the school really shined this year, but one of the architects behind their incredible curricula was recognized. Lukas Hefty, DLJ's very own Magnet Coordinator, was honored with the Milken National Educator AwardThis prestigious award lauds educators who have made significant contributions to the profession. The awards program is known to many as the "Oscars of Teaching."

Hefty's stand-out work is worth studying. He's incredibly humble and attributes his success in education to his early years at Jamerson, where the staff came together to develop the highly sought-after curriculum they use today.

Hefty's Early Years

Douglas L. Jamerson Junior Elementary opened its doors in 2003 and was funded by the Magnet Schools Assistance Program (MSAP) grant. Hefty transferred to Jamerson in December of 2004. In his first few years, Hefty taught 2nd and then 5th grade. Eventually he began spending half his time teaching and the other half working on curriculum, his split schedule helped him ease into the role of Magnet Coordinator which he occupies today. When he first signed on to work at DLJ, he joined a cohort who agreed to get nationally board certified (the school still holds the same standard for their teachers, more than half have Masters degrees as well). 
Keep Reading...

Is Innovation in Education the 'New Normal'?

Educators, administrators, parents and community members everywhere are innovating - re-thinking and re-imaging teaching methods and transforming learning environments - all to better engage, empower and prepare students with 21st-century skills.

INCubatoredu is a 501(c)3 not for profit founded on this notion and offers a year-long, comprehensive, for-credit entrepreneurship curriculum that immerses students in a 'start up' business incubator experience. The program includes well-articulated lesson plans for both the classroom teacher and volunteer business professionals who become coaches in the classroom. We're pleased to share that we're supporting teachers and students in more than 70 elementary, middle and high schools nationwide.

Hear more about the passion and purpose behind INCubatoredu, on this podcast. It's the first in a series where we interview and celebrate innovation in, teachers and INC contributors. Or, please join us for an upcoming webinar - register here to learn more about how INCubatoredu might be a fit for your school. Contact

MobileMakersEdu 2-Day Workshops - Learn to Teach iOS App Development.
As an Apple Professional Learning Provider, Mobile Makers is offering 2-day workshops for teachers across the US who are interested in introducing mobile app development curriculum to their schools. In this 2-day workshop computer science teachers will dive into the new App Development with Swift course. Investigate how Swift might be a great fit for your Computer Science curriculum. Investigate workshop locations, and more about MobileMakersEdu comprehensive training programs. Contact

Magnet School Principal Opening  

New London Public Schools is seeking...A dynamic and driven school principal to lead Grades PK-5 at C. B. Jennings Dual Language & International Elementary Magnet.

The principal of C.B. Jennings School will plan, administer, and supervise programming that meets the educational needs and interests of its students and promotes their maximum development and performance. Become a part of our small, unique, school system located on Connecticut's shoreline! 

Join us as New London transforms into a full, regional, magnet school district with four educationally excellent K-12 magnet pathways in STEM education, the Arts, Language and Culture, and Leadership. Learn more...

Jack Kent Cooke Foundation
Young Scholars Program

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation is now accepting applications for the  Young Scholars Program, the most selective and generous pre-college scholarship opportunity for high-achieving middle school students with  financial need. 

Young Scholars receive:
  • Personalized academic and college counseling
  • Funding for summer and extracurricular academic programs
  • Access to internships and study abroad opportunities and
  • Educational resources including books and technology
Through the Young Scholars Program, the Foundation has supported over 800 students from across the nation, providing them with individualized educational advising combined with comprehensive financial support from the 8th grade through high school.  Cooke Young Scholars are also on a pathway to receive the foundation's $40,000 per year College Scholarship.

Click here to learn more and recommend a student for the scholarship today. The deadline to submit applications is A pril 5, 2017 at 12:00 PM (EASTERN)

Magnets in the News

Betsy DeVos' confirmation has stoked fears about undermining public schools, in large part because of the Secretary of Education's full-throated support for school vouchers. But if the last few days have been any indication, DeVos is trying to put a friendlier face on the idea of school choice. 

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Wednesday pledged support for magnet schools in a bid to repair ties with proponents of public education in the wake of a bruising confirmation battle, but also slammed her critics for rejecting innovation and change.

More money for magnet schools?

DeVos and President Donald Trump have vowed to expand so-called school choice options for students, explicitly naming magnet schools as one of those options. MSA Executive Director Todd Mann said his organization plans to invite DeVos to visit some magnet schools. And he hopes that any momentum at the federal level translates into more federal funding.

Last week we hosted Secretary DeVos at our 2017 National Policy Training Conference because, as our Executive Director Todd Mann wrote, we believe what Secretary DeVos needs now is a great public school education. 

Ten year-old Sadia Zakaria, who spoke little English when she moved here from Egypt last summer, recited a poem Monday at the Regional Multicultural Magnet School that she had written to show that "on the inside, people are all the same."

For a group of five Vine Middle Magnet School students, the dream of being fully-fledged scientists isn't too far off. By the end of the week, the group will be in Cape Canaveral touring the Kennedy Space Center and watching a real-time NASA launch.

Arguably the most important part of magnet school programs is that students can dive into a subject they are interested in at a young age. To many teachers, keeping students engaged in a learning environment is among the biggest challenges. A 2015 Gallup Student Poll of students in grades 5-12 determined that only 50 percent of students were engaged in school.

Walk through the halls of Apalachee Tapestry Magnet School for the Arts and it does not take long to notice the school's unique emphasis on the arts. Giant, hand-made masks made by students for a school production of "Lion King are in cases lining the halls.


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Schools Students Want. Schools Students Need. 

MISSION: Providing leadership for high quality innovative instructional programs that promote choice, equity, diversity, and academic excellence 
for all students.


This February 

is National Magnet School Month 


How did you celebrate? 

Let us know by sharing on social media #magmonth


Here is a sample of what is  happening across the country! 














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