Magnet Schools of America Newsletter
 October 2016
Fall Technical Conference - Upfront

During a panel discussion, 2016 National Magnet School Principal of the Year, Martin Reid says that he strongly believes, "magnet schools will be the catalyst to heal our nation."
This month Magnet Schools of America held its annual Fall Technical Assistance and Training Conference in Washington, DC. It was well very attended and attracted magnet school leaders and educators from across the country. This year our conference theme was Designing for Sustainability and included four tracks to help attendees customize their event experience based on their individual needs. 
We invited some extraordinary presenters to share their guidance and expertise and we were proud to have our National Magnet School Principal of the Year, Martin Reid and National Magnet School Teacher of the Year, Matthew Waynee present during a panel discussion about the challenges and opportunities faced by magnet schools. We were also very excited to incorporate new conference session formats that were introduced by our New Opportunities Project Workgroup.

Margaret Martin, founder of CN2, explains how augmented reality tools can be used to enhance classroom instruction in the Magnet Shark Tank. 
We kicked off the event with our own spin on the hit television show Shark Tank and invited five groundbreaking companies to pitch their education related services including software that helps students develop computer coding skills, a  free program that allows students to learn to create mobile apps, curriculum to facilitate entrepreneurship in students, and professional development support and resources for international studies programs.  We would like to thank Apps for Good,  INCubator EDU, Unity 3D, CN2, and the International Studies Schools Network for participating in the first ever Magnet Shark Tank. 

AEI's Rick Hess discusses his ideas about Cage Busting School Leadership.
On the second day of the conference during a high energy presentation, Rick Hess from the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and Education Week shared his philosophy of
"Cage Busting" educational leadership. Hess encouraged magnet school leaders to boldly take steps to implement true transformational changes in their schools by challenging unnecessary and counterproductive constraints such as outdated laws, regulations, and school structures that stifle creative leadership.

On the last day of the conference the National Magnet School Standards of Excellence took center stage as the first cohort of certification candidates participated in an in-depth examination of the standards as they continue along their path toward certification. In a seperate session potential applicants learned about the certification program and were able to participate in a free readiness assessment. We would like to thank all of those who attended the fall conference and express our appreciation to the presenters who joined us. 

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

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 cash prizes will be given to the top posters in each grade level category. 

Submission Deadline: Friday, January 20, 2017

NAACP Calls for Moratorium on Charters

Last weekend, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) ratified a resolution adopted by delegates at its 2016 107th National Convention calling for a moratorium on charter school expansion.

"We are moving forward to require that charter schools receive the same level of oversight, civil rights protections and provide the same level of transparency, and we require the same of traditional public schools," Roslyn M. Brock, Chairman of the National NAACP Board of Directors, said in a statement. "Our decision today is driven by a long held principle and policy of the NAACP that high quality, free, public education should be afforded to all children."

"This call to action by the NAACP to increase oversight of charter schools and divert funds back to public schools is very appropriate. Research shows that magnet schools are much more effective at creating a diverse and creative learning environment for our children," said Magnet Schools of America, Executive Director, Todd Mann.

In a new report, The Century Foundation tells us that " low-income students in mixed-income schools are as much as   two years ahead   of low-income students in high-poverty schools; and diversity benefits middle-class students as   emerging research   has shown that being in diverse learning environments can make students smarter." In the report the author points to magnet schools in several districts as a model of diversity and success.

Following the NAACP's action, the largest teacher's union expressed their support for the resolution and also called for the expansion of magnet schools.

"We strongly support more inclusive and otherwise positive alternatives to charter schools. We should invest in proven strategies - strategies such as smaller class sizes, parental involvement, magnet and community schools - that we know help to improve the success of all of our students," said Lily Eskelsen GarcĂ­a, President of the National Education Association (NEA).

Flying Colors 
A monthly column focusing on MSA members

Learning as Exploration at Bear Exploration Center 

Bear Exploration Center for Mathematics, Science and Technology, a Blue Ribbon winning school in Montgomery, Alabama, has been a high performing  magnet elementary since 1996. Blue Ribbon schools are schools that are recognized by the U.S. government for exhibiting high levels of student performance and for making significant improvements toward closing the achievement gap. Bear earned this prestigious designation in 2015. Ms. Elizabeth Hill, Bear's Principal and Ms. Loretta Harrison, Bear's Reading Specialist, spoke with me a bit about what has made Bear Exploration center successful for so long.
Their small school setting (roughly 20 students in each class) allows for personalized and hands on learning. At Bear teachers strive to bring math and science to life for students with an outdoor classroom, an on-campus science lab, and by connecting math, science and technology with vocabulary, reading, and art. Their curricular design is data-driven and forward thinking, making it consistent with students needs year after year. In addition to facilitating high quality instructional systems for their students, Bear also facilitates innovative professional development and a close-knit work environment for its leaders and teachers resulting in high employee retention rates. Finally, Ms. Hill attributes much of Bear's success to parental participation and support which allows educators at Bear to truly focus on student achievement.

Learning through Doing, Experiencing and Bringing it all Together
With a strong focus in math, science and technology, Bear Exploration Center introduces young minds to big concepts through hands on experiences, connections between disciplines, and by showing students the real world application of the mathematical, scientific, and technological concepts they learn each day. Through the use of manipulatives, teaching measurement (a mathematical concept) as part of an art project, and having students tend to a school garden and outdoor classroom, complex processes in science and tricky formulas in math are given a vivid context at Bear. 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, 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.

Support for Magnet Educators 

Money bag with dollar sign and money tree growing out of top isolated on white Connecting Mathematics to Other Subject Areas Grants

The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics is accepting applications to its Connecting Mathematics to Other Subject Areas Grants for Grades 9-12 Teachers program, which supports senior high classroom materials or lessons that connect mathematics to other fields. Grants up to a maximum of $4,000 each will be awarded to persons currently teaching mathematics in grades 9-12. Application Deadline, November 4, 2016

Mathematics Grants

The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics is accepting applications from teachers of pre-K-2 mathematics for projects that incorporate music into the elementary school classroom to help young students learn mathematics. Grants of up to $3,000 will be awarded to individual classroom teachers or small groups of teachers collaborating at or across grade levels. Application Deadline: November 4, 2016

Air Force Association Accepting Applications for Aerospace Activities

AFA is accepting applications for its 2017 Educator Grants program, which promotes aerospace education activities in K-12 classrooms. Through mini-grants of up to $250, the program encourages development of innovative aerospace activities within the prescribed curriculum. All K-12 educators are invited to apply by November 18, 2016.

Laura Bush Foundation for America's Libraries School Library Grant

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-12 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.

Models of Excellence

We would like to congratulate the 31 magnet schools that were designated as 2016 National Blue Ribbon Schools by the U.S. Department of
Education. National Blue Ribbon Schools are public and private K-12 schools that have demonstrated the highest levels of academic success and have made great strides in closing the achievement gap.

All National Blue Ribbon Schools are recognized
in one of two performance categories:
  • Exemplary High Performing Schools are among their state's highest performing schools as measured by state assessments or nationally normed tests.
  • Exemplary Achievement Gap Closing Schools are among their state's highest performing schools in closing achievement gaps over the past five years.
We proudly acknowledge the 15 members of Magnet Schools of America that received this prestigious designation: 

Academy for Science and Foreign Language, Huntsvile City Schools, AL
The Early College at Guilford 
Guilford County Schools, NC
Forest Avenue Academic Magnet School, Montgomery Public Schools, AL
John P. Freeman Optional School, Shelby County Schools ,TN
LAMP High School, Montgomery Public Schools, AL
George Bannerman Dealey Intnl. Academy, Dallas Independent School District, TX
Wonderland Avenue Elementary School, Los Angeles Unified School District, CA
George Bannerman Dealey Montessori SchoolDallas Independent School District, TX
Design and Architecture Senior High School, Miami-Dade County Public Schools, FL
School of Health Professions, Dallas Independent School District, TX
Skinner North Elementary School, Chicago Public Schools, IL
Lovett Elementary SchoolHouston Independent School District, TX
Schaffner Traditional Elementary School, Jefferson County Public Schools, KY
Oak Forest Elementary SchoolHouston Independent School District, TX
G.W. Carver Center for Arts and Technology, Baltimore County Public Schools, MD

Magnets Making News 

Some might wonder why a commitment to school desegregation matters. Can't we just inject more resources into poor schools so that they have the opportunity to compete on an equal playing field? But research has long shown that singularly investing capital into a school in which the vast majority of students live in poverty has limited impact on achievement.

Both magnets and charters are schools of choice, and it is more appropriate to compare these schools than to compare charters to Los Angeles Unified School District traditional neighborhood schools. When these schools of choice are compared, magnets outperformed charters by large margins (11-21 percentage points) at every grade level on the English Language Arts (ELA) and Math sections of 2016 Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium tests.

An elementary and middle school southeast of downtown, School 19 - known in Indianapolis as the SUPER school - is among the most popular magnet schools in the city. Then again, it's a rare breed: a magnet program focused on health and physical activity at a time when some schools prohibit students from moving during class.

"It gives students a sense of belonging and shows that they have something powerful within themselves," she said. "(ArtsLink) is set up so that they begin to trust themselves."

The Wake County Public School System on Wednesday named A.B Combs Leadership Magnet Elementary School Principal Muriel Summers as the 2016-2017 Principal of the Year. District officials said Summers has been principal of Combs Magnet Elementary for 19 years and was integral to its creation as the nation's first leadership magnet school.

Fairfield Elementary Magnet School and its PTA are making positive changes in the way parents, students and teachers interact. The school is being recognized for its constant improvement in family-school partnerships.

When Lou Allen started the Science and Technology Magnet High School of Southeastern Connecticut in 2005, he didn't woo the state's top students. Instead, in accordance with state law, admission was based on a lottery. 

For the past four years, the Marine Science Magnet High School (MSMHS) of Southeastern Connecticut received an average of 400 applications for its incoming freshman class. Like every magnet school in Connecticut, it used a lottery process to randomly select the 73 students who get in.

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MISSION: Providing leadership for high quality innovative instructional programs that promote choice, equity, diversity, and academic excellence 
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Magnet Schools of the 
Mid-South Conference

November 9-12, 2016
Baton Rouge, LA

Learn More

2017 Policy 
Training Conference
February 15-17, 2017 
Washington, DC
Held annually in the 
nation's capital during National Magnet 
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35th National Conference on 
Magnet Schools 

Los Angeles, CA
April 26-30, 2017


Are You Ready?

Preparing a Successful 2017 Merit Award Application

Monday, October 24 
at 2 pm Eastern

This webinar will also be recorded and be  available
at Tuesday, October 25.

If you have any questions that you would like addressed,
please  email 
by  11:59pm Friday, 
October 21.

Register now!

Interested in Applying for an Award?
An ornate clock with the words Time to Renew on its face Renew your   Membership! 

Memberships expired on June 30, 2016. 

To participate in MSA's Awards Program you must be a paid member in good standing by November 1, 2016! 

Go to our website to renew online or email MSA's Membership Coordinator, Elaina Hundley, at to request an invoice or 
ask any questions.

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