Magnet Schools of America Newsletter
    January 2017
National Policy Training Conference

It is not too late to register for the National Policy Training Conference February 15-17, 2017 in Washington, DC. Please plan to be a part of the national conversation about magnet schools. Be sure to make your room reservation before the group rate expires January 23.  

During the event, you will benefit by participating in education policy discussions, grant writing workshops, and networking opportunities. The conference will also feature a Magnet Schools Assistance Program (MSAP) competition update from the U.S. Department of Education, congressional speakers, panel discussions, and insightful keynote presentations.

Champion of Magnet School 
Excellence Award

Just announced! We will present Congressman Bobby Scott with our Champion of Magnet School Excellence Award on the second day of the conference. The Congressman is the Ranking Member on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. Over the last two years he has been an active champion for school diversity and magnet schools. Through his committee leadership position, he introduced legislation to increase funding for magnet schools and commissioned a GAO study that exposed the disparities in our public school system that are caused by racial and socioeconomic segregation.

Congressional Speaker Series
  • MSA will present Rep. Bobby Scott with the Champion of Magnet School Excellence Award.
    Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici,
    Co-chair and founder of the Congressional STEAM caucus will discuss how magnet schools can take advantage of the new STEAM provisions included in the Every Student Succeeds Act or ESSA.
  • Congressman Luke Messer, Chairman of the Republican Policy Committee and the founder of the Congressional School Choice Caucus will discuss how magnet schools can be an integral piece of the evolving post-election school choice debate.
Informative Panel Discussions 

Ensuring Equal Opportunities for Students
  • This panel discussion will focus on classroom policies that can be used to promote school safety, prevent bullying, protect LGBT student rights, and ensure that students with disabilities receive proper supports and services. 
Implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) - Year One
  • ESSA will present both challenges and opportunities for magnet schools. During this panel discussion, national policy experts will discuss the implications of this new law and how magnet school leaders can leverage provisions included in ESSA to support theme-based magnet programs.
MSAP Competition Update and Grant Writing Workshops 
  • The Policy Training Conference will feature a presentation by Dr. Anna Hinton, Director of Parental Options and Improvement for the U.S. Department of Education and the MSAP team. They will discuss the current grant application and answer questions from attendees. 
  • In addition to the MSAP competition session, we have invited grant writing professionals and consultants with extensive experience preparing MSAP grant applications to lead two workshops.
Conference Location

The conference will be held at the Marriott Marquis in downtown Washington, DC. 

Be sure to make your room reservations by January 23, 2017 to take advantage of the conference group rate. 

Marriott Marquis
901 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001

The National Policy Training Conference is supported by:  

February is Magnet School Month 

This February join the celebration of National Magnet School Month. There are many  ways for you to participate and get involved! 

Be sure to  download a copy of the Magnet School Month logo and post it on your school website, and highlight it on social media. You can also use it in your marketing and events materials.

If you haven't already, download our magnet school month proclamation
and have your state and local school district adopt it. Contact your governor's office, state legislators, and your local school board members and ask them to pledge their support. 

National Magnet School Month:

Week 1 - Awareness Week

Help us create excitement about National Magnet School Month by sending out press releases, writing blogs, posting messages on Facebook and Twitter, writing letters to the editor, and contacting your local media outlets.

Post Your Tweets: #MagMonth and @MagnetSchlsMSA 

Week 2 - Scream Your Theme Week

This is your time to shine by organizing special activities and events at your school and in your community that screams your magnet theme.

Week 3 - Bring Your Elected Officials to Work Week

Invite your federal, state, and local elected officials to tour your school and promote the value of your magnet programs.

Week 4 - Show Your Appreciation Week

Finish National Magnet School Month by showing appreciation for the people that make your magnet school a success. Think of creative ways to say thank you to your teachers, principals, administrators, magnet coordinators, and staff.

Flying  Colors 
A monthly column focusing on MSA Members 

Kathleen Decker, principal at Walter Bracken, Walter Long, and Hollingsworth STEAM Academies in Clark County School District, (CCSD), located in Las Vegas, Nevada, is not new to success. She was named MSA Principal of the Year in 2013 for her vibrant leadership skills and ability to turn around Walter Bracken, which in 2001 was a failing school. Since her initial MSA recognition, two more schools have been placed under her leadership. One ingredient of her success with all three schools is her use of the empowerment method.

The empowerment method is a model that may ultimately be used in a reorganization plan for CCSD. The state of Nevada already has a number of Empowerment Schools already and the method is working both in Ms. Decker's schools and beyond. However, Empowerment Schools and the method that fuels them are not new and are not limited to CCSD. Several other states have begun implementing the method which originated in Canada.

So what is the empowerment method?

Mike Strembitsky developed the empowerment concept during his tenure as the Superintendent of Edmonton Schools in Canada and helped to lead the implementation of his method in CCSD. The method is also used in the New York Public School System, Pasadena School District in California, and in Hawaii. It's a very simple premise: empowerment schools literally empower principals, teachers, and students to determine how the schools actually operate. Instead of the district telling the principal what the school needs and the principal filtering instructions down to the teachers, principals and teachers work together to make decisions and problem solve - this applies to budgeting and operations issues as well as curricular level concerns. These schools are held accountable for the same district standards as non-empowered schools but have a little bit more freedom in reaching their goals.

Though for most schools, the ability to function as a fully empowered school is typically initiated at the district level, there are many ways that school leaders and teachers can use this same philosophy in the way that they manage both their staff and their classrooms. Keep Reading...

NIMSL Customized for You! 
Join the schools and districts that are taking advantage of national experts from NIMSL who are sharing their knowledge for magnet success through professional development and certification assistance. Along with the Director of Magnet School Leadership, Kelly Bucherie they have guided the first Standards of Excellence Certification cohort through a series of conference workshops, webinars, and in some cases, contracted coaching. 

Wichita Public Schools, Richland Two School District and Chattanooga High School have contracted to receive virtual, collaborative, and/or on-site technical assistance. The participants say, "This training helped tremendously to understand what strengths we have as a magnet school and what areas we need to improve upon. It also helped us to understand where we are in the certification process."  The excitement for schools to become a part of the second certification cohort is high. Therefore, the enrollment window will remain open until 200 schools have signed up. I t is expected that the spots will go quickly. 

In addition to certification assistance, NIMSL offers specialized professional development workshops and coaching. Albuquerque Public Schools is currently receiving collaborative coaching and on-site technical assistance in building leadership capacity for their STEM school. Winston Salem Forsyth County Schools has participated in a series of professional development workshops including a deep dive into their data to build capacity in their magnet practices and exemplars. Keep Reading...

Support for Magnet Schools

business, money and office concept - smiling businesswoman in eyeglasses holding money bag with dollar Kinder Morgan Foundation 
supports K-12 programs that promote the academic and artistic interests of young people in cities and towns across North America where Kinder Morgan operates. Grants of up to $5,000 will be awarded for academic programs, including tutoring; arts; and environmental education programs. Application deadlines are the tenth of every other month beginning in January. 

Learning and Leadership Grants 

The NEA Foundation is inviting applications for its Learning and Leadership Grants program. It provides funding to public school teachers and public education support professionals. Grants may be used for high-quality professional development experiences such as summer institutes or action research; or grants to groups to fund collegial study, action research, lesson study, or mentoring experiences for new faculty or staff.

The grant amount is $2,000 for individuals and $5,000 for groups. All groups must include partner information.  Application deadline: February 1, 2017

Teacher Vision Grants

American Electric Power (AEP) is accepting applications from pre-K through 12th grade teachers for mini-grants in support of classroom projects. AEP will award grants of up to $500 for projects that promote science, mathematics, technology, electrical safety, the balanced study of energy and the environment, and energy efficiency. Applicants must live or teach in the AEP  service area  or in a community with a major AEP facility. Application Deadline: February 24, 2017

Magnet School Principal Opening - 
Clara Barton Open School 

Clara Barton Open School is a magnet school located in Minneapolis, MN that offers a program built around the philosophy of Open Education. Open Education refers to a style of teaching that values student choices in the educational process, hands-on learning experiences, integration of curricular areas, and regular opportunities for cooperative, small group learning experiences. 

These principles emphasize student centered learning, cognitive learning, social learning, and democratic learning. The Barton School community is committed to progressive education values and maintaining Barton's integrity as a school and a model for other Open schools. Learn more...

Magnets in the News

A few years ago, I visited a magnet school on a seemingly routine visit. But, then, I found out that there is no such thing as a routine visit to a public magnet school, because magnet schools are anything but ordinary. They are extraordinarily cool!

The Trump administration could bring to the fore some education terms that have been largely overlooked in recent years as it moves to dramatically change the way students learn in the United States. And officials and advocacy groups will throw around other words that are commonly heard but not always thoroughly understood.

The honor, known as the Milken Educator Award, is hailed by Teacher magazine as the "Oscars of Teaching" and comes with an unrestricted $25,000 financial prize that Hefty can use however he wishes.

Lee teacher to be honored on MLK Day for helping school improve 

"The school had an 'F' rating," Principal Bethany Quisenberry said. "We were having a lot of problems and behavior difficulties, especially in fifth grade." Hunter taught first grade, but she wanted to help the older students get back on track.

Students at Sorensen Magnet School of the Arts and Humanities are in the middle of a two-week trip to Hawaii. This year's artist-in-residence, Bria Zan Thompson, is bringing Hawaiian dance, legends, natural environment, culture and language to Sorensen.
Echo Park Elementary School third-graders designing new zoo exhibit

Naimo Ali, 8, rushed to the glass, squeezing her head in between her classmates to catch a glimpse of the snow monkeys bounding through fresh snow. Ali and her classmates spent the past week studying the snow monkey exhibit at the Minnesota Zoo as part of a challenge for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) students to redesign the exhibit.

The Aiken County School District announced Thursday that New Ellenton Middle School has been recognized as one of 62 middle schools across the country to achieve national STEM-certification through AdvancED, the nation's premier education accrediting agency.


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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.

Mark Your

35th National Conference on 
Magnet Schools 

Los Angeles, CA
April 26-30, 2017

Share your expertise 
and b e a presenter!

Interested in presenting at the National Conference?

Submit a presentation proposal by Friday,
January 20.

Celebrating Choice

January 22-28, 2017

Held every January, 
National School Choice Week is the world's largest celebration of opportunity 
in education.

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