Magnet Schools of America Newsletter
  November 2016
National Policy Training Conference

What policy issues are you facing in the classroom and in the school?  Hear from a panel  of experts discussing issues ranging from school safety to gender rights. 

What is coming our way with the new Administration? How will magnets be impacted?

Plan to attend Magnet Schools of America's annual National Policy Training Conference  February
15-17, 2017
in Washington, DC  and find answers to all these questions and more. 

Registration is now open!

The Policy Conference will be held just weeks after the Presidential Inauguration and the beginning of a new session of Congress. 

You don't want to miss this opportunity to find out what the results of the election will mean for K-12 public education and magnet schools.
  • Learn about the new administration's plans for implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) as it is rolled out next year.
  • Hear about the details of President-Elect Trump's plan to provide $20 billion in new funding to incentivize school choice programs including magnet schools in his first 100 days in office.
  • Spend time on Capitol Hill meeting with your newly elected Members of Congress to learn about their education policy priorities. 
  • Participate in Magnet Schools Assistance Program grant writing sessions geared for next year's anticipated competition.
  • Hear about emerging policy issues faced by educators in the classroom. 
  • Network with magnet school colleagues from across the country.
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

Event Registration: 

Register for the Policy Conference by the Early Bird Deadline January 11, 2017 and save. Members of Magnet Schools of America also receive a discount.

The National Policy Training Conference is supported by:  

Are you Ready to Be Certified? 
Cohort II Launch Coming this January 

The time has come to begin thinking about the Magnet Schools of America Cohort II Certification Process! Magnet Schools of America will open Cohort II beginning January 18, 2017. Cohort I filled up in 95 minutes last spring, therefore, mark your calendars now!

When you apply for Certification, you are looking at your school through the "lens of excellence." You will be self-evaluating, providing documentation, and in some cases, writing SMART Goals in the areas that need improvement. You are asking that your school be rated as one of the "best of the best" magnet schools in the nation. Such a designation will be invaluable to your marketing and ability to seek support for your school.

Cohort II will onboard in March of 2017 and run through January 2018. Once you are certified, your school and district will be notified via an official letter from the Director of National Institute for Magnet School Leadership and will be recognized at the National Conference. At the conference, you will be presented as a National Certified Magnet School and receive your Seal of Recognition. You will stand before your peers from across the country as a highly distinguished magnet school.

The cost is $1395.00 per school, payable via check, purchase order, or credit card and due at the time of application submission. If you select to pay with a check or purchase order, payment must be received within 10 business days of application submission.

Don't miss out on this incredible opportunity for your school and district! Mark your calendars and be sure to go to the certification website  to apply for the Magnet Schools of America Cohort II Certification Process starting January 18, 2017 at 9:00 am EDT.

We look forward to assisting you in this process!

National Awards Recognizing Magnet School Excellence  - Apply Now! 


Magnet Schools of America's 2016-2017 national awards season is here. Please review each of our programs below and start the application process today.  All members  of Magnet Schools of America are eligible to participate. Winners will be recognized at the 35th National Conference in Los Angeles, CA!
The national merit awards program recognizes the best magnet schools in the nation. These awards are given to magnet schools that demonstrate high academic standards, curriculum innovation, effective school diversity/integration efforts, and the delivery of high-quality educational services to all students.

Application Deadline EXTENDED: Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Merit Award Informational Webinar

Have questions about the merit award application process? Be sure to watch this webinar hosted by our Awards Committee Chair and Director of Operations.

This annual award was created in 2015 and recognizes an exceptional superintendent that has embraced magnet schools as a priority in the portfolio of school choice options. This individual must also demonstrate leadership at the national, state, and local levels in support of magnet schools.

Application Deadline: Monday, January 9, 2017

This award was established in 2009 and recognizes a remarkable magnet school principal who has  implemented an innovative magnet  program and demonstrated leadership within their school district and community.  This individual will be chosen from a cohort of regional principals of the year.

Application Deadline: Monday, December 12, 2016

The Magnet School Teacher of the Year Award was established in 2010 and recognizes an extraordinary teacher who exemplifies excellence in the classroom and is acknowledged by their peers, parents, and students for their contributions made to their profession. This individual will be chosen from a group of regional teachers of the year.

Application Deadline: Monday December 12, 2016

Magnet Schools of America is proud to sponsor its 11th Annual National Student Poster Contest as part of the celebration of National Magnet School Month in February. We encourage all elementary, middle, and high school magnet students to participate. Certificates and prizes will be given to the top posters in each level category. 

Submission Deadline: Friday, January 20, 2017

Designing Strategically for Magnet
Schools of America's Members Today

By Doreen Marvin, MSA Immediate Past President; Chair Project Work Group for Strategic Planning; President Obelisk Consulting Services

This summer a group of 15 Magnet Schools of America (MSA) members, leaders, and staff met to craft the next generation strategic design for MSA. This project work group examined the data acquired over the previous three years, the current context of education, and what the membership was saying it needed from its Association. This article aims to inform you of the work. For the complete plan please visit our Mission and Beliefs page on our website

Over the past ten years MSA and its members have seen changes in the educational landscape. As we shift administrations, shift from No Child Left Behind to the Every Student Succeeds Act, and shift from laser focus on single test scores as achievement to a broader perspective of what defines achievement for the whole student, MSA was primed to renew its strategic future. The previous strategic plan took the organization from 2011 to 2016. During that time MSA's successes brought new value to the members, many face to face professional learning opportunities, numerous webinars, connections to new and veteran magnet schools across the country, and direct working relationships with the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) and Congress on behalf of magnet schools.

As a result of MSA's dedication, strong leadership, and follow through on that recent strategic design the organization has accomplished much. Most notably the accomplishments include increased revenue which allowed for strategic investments in public relations, professional learning for staff, the National Institute for Magnet School Leadership (NIMSL), Magnet School Standards of Excellence, Leadership Training, and Magnet School Certification.  

NIMSL was founded in 2008 to support an emphasis on school leadership. Its growth expanded to 250 leaders trained by 2010, and this growth continues today. All these efforts have led to a more notable presence across the country and a new level of maturity for the organization. Ties have been re-strengthened with the USDOE, Office for Civil Rights (an arm of USDOE) and strategic collaborations with other associations and organizations have grown.  MSA has also contracted with the University of North Carolina at Charlotte for specific research on the presence of magnet schools state by state.

Since 2012, the organization has seen two Executive Directors, additional staffing, staff changes, a new Board of Directors structure (voted upon as a result of the past strategic design), and a more inclusive voting process that includes electronic voting for members. Prior to 2012, MSA had a long tenured Executive Director who served ten years. While overall membership numbers have fluctuated, the average number of district and school members over five years is steady. Member needs have definitely changed and the organization has been defining member value and shifting services to meet these needs; this includes the growth of NIMSL.  Keep Reading>>

Flying Colors 
A monthly column focusing on MSA members


Maya Rhodan grew up in the Southside of Chicago, Illinois. She began her magnet school career in elementary school at Murray Language Academy , a K-8 magnet school offering French, Japanese, Mandarin, and Spanish Language studies to its students.

Immediately following her time at Murray Language Academy, Maya attended Whitney M. Young Magnet High School. Maya shares her alma mater with another esteemed alumna, Michelle Obama. She started at Whitney Young in their 7th and 8th grade program (The Academic Center) in 2002 and graduated in 2008. Post high school graduation, Maya flourished.
From a college career at Howard University in Washington, DC, to internships, editorships, and freelance writing roles for Washingtonian Magazine, Essence Magazine, Ebony, Washington City Paper, and Howard's own Hilltop newspaper, Maya's resume boasts an impressive and varied set of editing, writing, and publishing experiences. She currently holds a full-time web editor position at Time Magazine.

Maya fell in love with the art of story-telling from a young age and attributes the development of the narrative voice she uses today, in part, to her high school literature, language, and journalism classes. In these classes, she says she felt she had the freedom to experiment and to grow as a writer.

She ascribes her success in college and beyond to the general foundation laid by her magnet school educational background. In our conversation, she expressed that she benefitted from both the academic rigor of her high school and the diversity of the student population.

Inspired by Academic Rigor

Though Whitney M. Young is not a theme based school, the magnet high school is known for its academic focus. Maya explained that many clubs and after school activities were available for almost any interest imaginable. Maya also noted that she had a chance to take a wide selection of courses including accounting, law, and journalism. She felt that between the course offerings and extracurricular activities, students at Whitney had numerous opportunities to explore potential careers and fields of study. In fact, Maya discovered her own calling in the classroom.  Keep Reading>>

Trump at the Head of the Class 

With the election of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States, it is unclear how much the world of education will likely change. During the campaign, the president-elect made several statements about his policy preferences. He stated that "we need to fix our broken education system and keep it local." He believes the Common Core is a "very bad thing" and that the U.S. Department of Education should be streamlined, or possibly eliminated. 

Before election day, Donald Trump released an outline of his education priorities that lean heavily on providing students with more school choice. He echoed this sentiment in his Contract with the American Voter which lays out his agenda for his first 100 days in the White House. In his proposal, he calls for a f ederal investment of $20 billion for school choice programs. This will be done, according to the plan, by reprioritizing existing federal dollars .  

The distribution of funding will favor states that have private school choice, magnet schools and laws that encourage  charters.  His plan would e stablish the national goal of providing school choice to all 11 million school aged children living in poverty It is uncertain how this additional funding will materialize, but the idea of adding a Title I portability provision to the Every Student Succeeds Act has been discussed by his advisors. 

In regards to the launch of the Every Student Succeeds Act or ESSA, Gerard Robinson, who is one of Trump's transition team education leaders  believes that the president-elect respects that ESSA was passed by a bipartisan effort and that he doesn't expect him to become deeply involved in ESSA's initial implementation. With the law's promise to put more control into state and local hands, Robinson proclaims that it will be a good time to be a state school officer. 

Soon the White House and Congress will be under the complete control of one party. This will give President-Elect Trump the opportunity to advance a large portion of his agenda. This could mean additional support for magnet schools in one form or the other. The Republican National Committee platform details its support for school choice including home-schooling, career and technical education, private or parochial schools, magnet schools, charter schools, online learning, and early-college high schools. The Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Paul Ryan has also expressed his support of school choice policies that favor charter and magnet schools. Keep Reading>>

ESSA Toolkit for Magnet Schools

Last year, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was passed, reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, also known as No Child Left Behind. ESSA is the new federal law for K-12 public education and will take full effect in the 2017-2018 school year. It was designed to increase opportunities for local input and flexible decision making based on what communities and states need to provide a quality education to their students. 

While Magnet Schools of America (MSA) prioritizes certain sections of the law, MSA encourages schools to be involved as much as possible in the work happening in their states around ESSA. This is a historic moment for K-12 education, with more control being given to the local education agencies. The more magnet schools engage, the more our voice will be heard and hopefully our priorities addressed.  

While ESSA is a comprehensive education law, touching on a broad range of issues, magnet schools can play a crucial role in ensuring the law helps promote diversity and innovation in our nation's classrooms.  Importantly, ESSA includes the requirement that state and local education agencies engage in "timely and meaningful consultation" with a variety of stakeholders while developing their state implementation plans. 

These plans will be released to the public for review this fall before being submitted to the U.S. Department of Education next year. Arizona, Illinois, Louisiana, and North Carolina have already released their draft plans. Many others will soon follow. 

Therefore, we encourage you to use our online toolkit and template letter to drive your communications with your state and local leaders as you begin to think how these state plans will impact your magnet schools.

Hartford Public Schools -
Superintendent Search
The Board of Education for the Hartford Public Schools is pleased to announce the search for a Superintendent of Schools. Located in the state capital of Connecticut, Hartford Public Schools serves approximately 21,000 students in 47 schools, including 20 magnet schools, 1 adult education school, 1 alternative learning center, and 1 program for over-age/under-credited students. Hartford has the advantage of a diverse student population, including the representation of over 70 language groups.

The ideal Superintendent of Schools will be a strong leader steeped in success within demanding, complex environments. The proven ability to lead and garner support from a diverse set of constituents will be essential, as will a record of genuine performance and impact against ambitious goals.

To review the full position announcement visit our job openings website.

Support for Magnet Educators 

Money bag with dollar sign and money tree growing out of top isolated on white

Grants of up to $7,000 will be awarded to help libraries in schools where 85 percent or more of the students qualify for free or reduced lunches to expand, update, and diversify their book collections. Schools serving pre-K through 12th grade in all fifty states and the District of Columbia are eligible to apply. Application Deadline: December 12, 2016

Shell Science Teaching Award

The National Science Teachers Association, with support from the Shell Oil Company, is inviting nominations for the Shell Science Teaching Award, an annual program that recognizes an outstanding K-12 classroom science teacher who has had a positive impact on his or her students, school, and community through exemplary classroom science teaching.

The award includes a $10,000 cash prize and an all-expenses paid trip to attend NSTA's national conference; two finalists will also receive all-expenses-paid trips to the conference. Application Deadline January 6, 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.

Magnets Making News 

In New York City, where public education is profoundly segregated by race and income, the anger and dismay over a plan to diversify a couple of elementary schools on the Upper West Side of Manhattan are not terribly unusual.

"We're bringing circus arts to the curriculum. It's nice to have people who have worked in the professional business of the arts to come and share their experience. It's really the perfect collaboration. Kids are excited to be a part of the program, and it's helped them build a motivation for learning."

She launched Orange Center as a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math magnet school and digital school. The school's grade also improved from a B to an A this year and the campus recently won the Golden Shovel community involvement award from the Florida Department of Agriculture.

In the past, seats were divvied up in a random lottery. The school board is now planning to move to a system where students in low-income areas have a better chance of getting into a higher-performing school.

"Never Stop and Never Settle." that's the motto at Malcolm C. Hursey Elementary in North Charleston. The school continues to make academic gains, as students and staff strengthen their commitment to learning, discipline, and character building.

A Caddo Parish Magnet High School senior, Ankur Khanna, has been named a regional finalist in the Siemens Competition in Math, Science and Technology.
Khanna, 17, is the only Louisiana award recipient for 2016 and will receive a $1,000 scholarship to the college of his choice.

From the age of five one Baldwin Magnet School teacher knew she wanted to be an educator. Since then she has worked hard to make that dream a reality.

She said nobody on her team had ever performed anything before this experience, but that with every workshop she could see the students' confidence grow. That, she said, was the best part of the whole experience; you can't teach confidence; her students "just had to do it."

Within hours of "Fractured Lands" being published by The New York Times Magazine  with a link to a lesson plan for educators teaching grades K-12, the education department was contacted by teachers from all over the world who were interested in connecting the story to their students. 

A Bend-La Pine magnet school has received a national credential acknowledging its place among schools successful in using the expeditionary learning model.
Expeditionary learning schools are characterized by their nontraditional approach in which projects and real-world learning are emphasized.

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

Quick Links
Magnet Schools of the Mid-South



This month MSA was proud to support the Magnet Schools of the Mid South annual conference in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. 














Mark Your

2017 Policy Training Conference

February 15-17, 2017
Washington, DC

Held annually in the
 nation's capital during National Magnet 
School Month.

this February! 

35th National Conference on 
Magnet Schools 

Los Angeles, CA
April 26-30, 2017

Learn more 
and register now!

Be a Presenter!

Interested in presenting at the National Conference?

Submit a presentation proposal by January 6.

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