Magnet Schools of America Newsletter
September 2016
Fall Conference: Designing for Sustainability

It is not too late to register for our annual Fall Technical Assistance and Training Conference in Washington, DC 
October 9-11, 2016 at the Capital Hilton.
This year's event will focus on best practices for sustaining innovative magnet school programs, strategic planning, and steps for designing creative theme-based curriculum and instruction. Attending the conference is a tremendous opportunity for schools and districts to constructively brainstorm, gather practical ideas, network with other colleagues, and gain invaluable insight from leading magnet school experts and practitioners. 

Keynote Speakers

Maree Sneed - Partner, Hogan Lovells

Maree has extensive experience advising magnet school leaders and is recognized in the education industry as a lawyer who helps school districts, independent schools, educational institutions, and educational companies solve their most complex problems.

Rick Hess - Resident Scholar and Director of Education Policy Studies, American Enterprise Institute (AEI)

Mr. Hess is the author of the popular Education Week blog Rick Hess  Straight Up. His work covers a full spectrum of education reform topics including school choice, testing and accountability, school governance and teaching, research, and K-12 politics.

Thought-Leaders Discussion: 
The Landscape &  Challenges of Magnets Today

Join us for an important discussion on magnet schools featuring the 2016 National Magnet School Principal of the Year, Teacher of the Year, Enid Rey from Hartford Public Schools who was featured on This American Life, and Richard Kahlenberg from the Century Foundation.

Magnet School Shark Tank

MSA's own version of the hit show Shark Tank where top educational companies will demonstrate how their products can support and enhance 
the work of magnet educators in the classroom.

National Magnet School Certification

Put your thinking caps on for an in-depth look at the new Magnet Schools of America Standards of Excellence certification program. Technical assistance and guidance for current and potential applicants will be provided.

Visit the conference website to register and make your hotel reservations.  

Awards Applications: Now Available Online

The Magnet Schools of America's 2016-2017 national awards season is here. Please review each of our programs below and start an application 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 was created to recognize the best magnet schools in the United States. These awards are given to magnet schools that demonstrate high academic standards, curriculum innovation, successful school integration and diversity efforts, and the delivery of high-quality educational services to all students.

There are two categories of merit awards: (1) Magnet Schools of Excellence, the most prominent merit award given to magnet schools, and (2) Magnet Schools of Distinction. The top rated magnet schools in the Excellence category are eligible to receive MSA's most prestigious awards including the Dr. Ronald Simpson Award, which includes a $5,000 cash prize, the Donald Waldrip Award, MSA Presidents' Award, and others that recognize the nation's preeminent elementary, secondary, and new and emerging magnet schools.  

Application Deadline: Monday, November 14, 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 leader who has succeeded in providing innovative programs that promote equity, diversity, and academic excellence for all students. This individual will be chosen from a cohort of regional principals of the year.

To be selected as a regional magnet principal of the year, candidates must be nominated by their district level magnet director. Once nominated, candidates must submit a narrative application and recommendation letters.

Application Deadline: Monday, December 12, 2016

The Magnet Teacher of the Year Award was established in 2010 and recognizes an extraordinary full-time 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.

Regional teachers of the year are selected from MSA's eight regions through a competitive application process. To be chosen, candidates must first be nominated by their district level magnet director. Once nominated, they are
asked to submit a narrative application that describes their professional and educational background, teaching philosophy, community and family engagement efforts, and successes in the classroom. 

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

Flying Colors
A monthly column focusing on MSA members
From a Struggling School to a Stellar School:
Principal Martin T. Reid's School Turnaround Tale

In 2009, Martin T. Reid joined Arthur & Polly Mays Conservatory of the Arts. Armed with a strong educational background, a B.S. from Florida A&M University, M.S. from Nova Southeastern University and an Ed. S. from The University of Miami, plus years of experience teaching and leading as a principal, Mr. Reid was ready for any challenge that Mays, a tough urban school with inner city problems, could send his way. What he didn't realize was that working at Mays would soon become a career and community altering experience for him, his teachers, and his students. 

I spent some time speaking with MSA's 2016 National Principal of the Year to get the inside scoop on what a school turnaround takes and how Mays successfully utilized community partnerships to elevate their program. For Mr. Reid, several components contributed to success at the Florida 6-12 conservatory. Key ingredients in Mays' transformation include: patience, T.A.P.S (teachers, ancillary staff, parents, and students), a strong arts integration program supported through community partnerships, and a creative marketing and re-branding strategy to reverse Mays' unsavory reputation. 

When Principal Reid first started at Arthur & Polly Mays, the school carried the stigma of having a poor behavioral and academic reputation. It had one of the core components of a successful school - great teachers with a desire to strengthen it, but was still teetering between a C and D rating each year. The school also had an entirely different structure: it was a middle school. Previously, during times of segregation, the school operated as a high school that served black students from across a 30 mile radius.  It wasn't until later that it was converted into a middle school. 

In order to compromise between the school's original alumni who had been wanting Mays to return to its high school status for years, the school expanded to include 6th grade through 12th grade students. To accomplish this change, Mr. Reid was tasked with writing a concept paper detailing the structure of the program, the need for arts integration, and resources necessary to successfully make the change. From there, Mr. Reid set these plans and this research into action. Keep Reading>>

The Gift of Social and Emotional Learning 

It is not too late for you to receive a  GIFT  for magnet and choice schools (pre-K to 6th grade) made possible for Magnet Schools of America members by a collaboration with Sanford Harmony. This school year, over 200,000 schools, in 21 states, will be using the Harmony web-based training and classroom kits to develop social-emotional competencies that will carry students successfully through school and into adult years. 

A recent article in Education Week talks about the impact of social-emotional skills such as self-regulation, problem solving, social awareness and growth mindset. Based on these same skills, Harmony's SEL program is aligned not only with our mission and with the activities outlined in the MSAP grant, but also with ESSA and Common Core. 

If you are interested in joining these schools,  contact National Institute for Magnet School Leadership (NIMSL) Director, Kelly Bucherie, at

Magnet Schools Up Close

U.S. Congressman David Jolly (Right) tours John Hopkins Middle School with its Magnet Coordinator.  
As school districts recently took part in the annual Back to School ritual, Pinellas County Schools took advantage of the corresponding congressional recess to invite their political leaders to visit their magnet schools. The school district includes St. Petersburg, which is considered part of the Tampa Bay metropolitan region on the west coast of Florida. It is the seventh largest school district in the state. 

During a visit to one of the district's magnet schools, the John Hopkins Middle School Center for International Studies in the Arts and Multimedia Journalism, Congressman David Jolly toured the school campus, met with school leaders, and visited classrooms. Adding to the experience students who are participating in the journalism magnet program had the opportunity to interview the Congressman and learn about his profession and policy agenda. The young aspiring journalists then wrote an article about the Congressman's visit and posted it to the school's online newspaper the J.Hop Times, which  has won multiple national awards and is supported by a partnership with the Tampa Bay Times. 

While visiting the school, district leaders had the chance to sit down with the Congressman to discuss his work in Washington. Naturally the discussion lead to the funding outlook for the Magnet Schools Assistance Program (MSAP). Currently, the program is under threat and could be eliminated this fall. As a member of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations, Rep. Jolly is responsible for deciding the program's annual budget and ultimate fate. 

After visiting the school and seeing how magnet schools are helping students in his district, the Congressman promised to protect funding for MSAP when he returns to the nation's capital. This type of proactive grassroots action taken by Pinellas County Schools demonstrates how an effective school tour can influence the policy making process. 

Unfortunately, one political commitment is not enough. Therefore, we encourage all our members to invite their political leaders to visit their magnet schools whenever possible. During the entire month of October, the U.S. Congress will be on recess until the November election. 

Please take this time to invite your officials to your schools. Now is the time to send out invitations. We have created a guide to walk you through the process of hosting a school tour. If you have any questions, please email our Legislative Manager:

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- September 30, 2016.

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, 2016.

Kids in Need Foundation Teacher Grants provide educators with funding to purchase materials to conduct innovative classroom projects. Grant supporters include Jo-Ann Fabrics and Craft Stores, Elmer's, and Dollar General. The maximum award is $500. The deadline to apply is September 30, 2016.

P. Buckley Moss Foundation for Children's Education

The foundation is accepting is grant applications from pre-K-12 educators who need financial assistance to maintain or implement an arts education program in the 2017-18 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 packets will be accepted starting July 1. To be accepted, application packets must be postmarked no later than September 30, 2016

NEA Foundation Learning & Leadership Program

Through its Learning & Leadership program, the foundation makes awards of up to $2,000 to support the participation of public school teachers and public education support professionals in high-quality professional development experiences. It also awards grants of up to $5,000 to support group projects related to collegial study, including study groups, action research, lesson study, or mentoring experiences. Application Deadline October 15, 2016

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

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.

Magnets Making News 

DeBakey turns out math and science whiz kids who head to top colleges. But with high expectations comes high pressure.

I remember winning the science fair in grade school. My project was "how radar works." I then went on to attend a math-science-engineering magnet school in Baltimore, which was kind of unusual at the time-this was the mid-1970s. And my interest in math and science grew from there.

The goal is to eventually create a roughly equal balance of students with low, medium and high socioeconomic status. For a high-poverty neighborhood school that hosts a magnet program, that would mean most magnet seats would be set aside for medium or high SES students.

A powerful earthquake sends tremors rippling across the San Fernando Valley, toppling buildings, sparking fires and trapping thousands of residents among the rubble. But instead of police and firefighters picking through sharp-edged debris, an army of robots is dispatched to search and rescue. At least that was the exercise last week at the first Los Angeles magnet school for robotics.

In the morning, students in one of Amy Cruz's art classes were taking the first steps toward creating works of art that speak to the sometimes disturbing experiences of people in the wider world, such as being displaced by social upheavals.

Connecticut schools teach about 9/11, as many students are too young to remember the attacks

Most Americans could tell you exactly where they were on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, when hijackers steered commercial planes into the Pentagon, both towers of the World Trade Center and one hit a field in Pennsylvania. That is, of course, if they were old enough to be aware of what occurred.

Since 2005, more and more North Carolina school districts have added dual language/immersion programs. Educators cite research that shows students perform better academically and have higher proficiency levels in both languages.

I benefited greatly from attending schools that were supported and developed in response to this legislation. In second grade, my parents took me out of Mile Creek Elementary School in Old Lyme to send me to the Regional Multicultural Magnet School in New London. I loved RMMS.

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


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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 Calendar

2017 Policy Training Conference

February 15-17, 2017 
Washington, DC
Held annually in the 
nation's capital during National Magnet 
School Month


Every Year! 

February is 
National Magnet 
School Month


35th National Conference 

April 26-30 2017
Los Angeles, California

 Merit Readers

MSA is seeking qualified individuals to review national merit award applications. Merit readers will be compensated

I f you are interested in participating, please submit an application by October 18.

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