Magnet Schools of America Newsletter
      August 2018
Back to School Greetings

Summer was busy for MSA including the members, the Board of Directors, and the national office staff. Many were engaged in school and district leadership technical assistance through NIMSL, our national institute. Some finished their National Certification rubric and 51 schools completed their application for the next cohort. Like the others before them, they will be involved in this reflective process during the school year. To date, 114 schools have completed certification with 18 earning Demonstration status. Welcome and congratulations to our newest certified schools from the following districts.

Albuquerque Public Schools
Galveston Independent School District
Broward County Public Schools
Hillsborough County Public Schools
Calcasieu Parish Public Schools
Jefferson County Schools
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools
Miami-Dade County Public Schools
Chicago Public Schools
Montgomery Public Schools
Clark County School District
New London Public Schools
District Five of Lexington & Richland
Pinellas County Schools
Dothan City Schools Osseo Area School District
East Baton Rouge Parish Schools
Congratulations also to the new Demonstration Schools from this cohort, Miami-Dade's Coral Gables Senior High School, Arthur and Polly Mays Conservatory of the Arts, and Pinellas County's Ridgecrest Elementary Center for Gifted Studies. (All nationally certified schools are listed on the MSA website.)
My first summer as your new president included working with our Project Work Group (PWG) committees on the business of MSA. Using our strategic plan and building on our five pillars, the new slate of board members and the national office staff enthusiastically met and established goals. It is crucial for us to plan opportunities and resources to develop discussions and resources around our Five Pillars: (1) Diversity, (2) Innovative Curriculum and Professional Development, (3) Academic Excellence, (4) High Quality Instructional Systems, and (5) Family and Community Partnerships.
I asked new board members to share some thoughts for the school year. Prentiss Whitley, Houston magnet coordinator for 900 middle school students in eleven different magnet areas, says, "I am always so excited about the tiny ideas. The Earth's oceans are just tiny water drops working together. Try big things, but do not ignore the little stuff. Anyone who feels they are too small to make a difference has never slept in a room with a mosquito."

Naisha Baidy, magnet resource teacher and project manager in a New York school talks about her new school model. "This new model challenges all stakeholders to look at achievement though a different lens, a lens that shows when equity and rigor coexist in the classroom, star students are revealed."

Even armed with training and advice, you will likely face challenges and obstacles. We at MSA hope that you will take advantage of our member resources and conference opportunities. We invite you to apply for a merit award, engage in NIMSL training, attend a national conference, and/or apply for national certification. That merit award deadline is November 20th and there are three conference opportunities for you to grow professionally and network with other educators. 

Visit to learn about awards, resources, and these conferences: The Technical Assistance in Columbia, SC (October 3-5); the Policy in Washington, DC; (February 6-8); and the annual conference in Baltimore, MD (April 10-13).

I wish you all the best during the 2018-2019 school year!

Susan King
MSA President

Coming to the Palmetto State this Fall

Join us October 3-5, 2018 in Columbia, South Carolina for the annual Fall Technical Assistance and Training Conference as we take a "Deeper Dive" into the Five Pillars of Magnet Schools.  Register by the Early Bird Deadline  September 4, 2018  
and SAVE!

In collaboration with School District Five of Lexington and Richland Counties and Richland School District 2, the event will feature remarkable speakers and informative sessions.  The fall conference will also include many networking opportunities and a close look at exemplary magnet programs offered in the  host districts during school site visits

Featured Speakers

Dr. Hefner will be the opening keynote speaker. During his tenure, he facilitated the creation of numerous award winning magnet programs in South Carolina.
Dr.Stephen Hefner
MSA's 2018 Magnet Superintendent of the Year

Dr. Baron R. Davis
Superintendent, Richland School District Two, SC

Dr. Christina S. Melton
Superintendent, School District Five of Lexington 
& Richland Counties, SC

Maree Sneed
Senior Counsel, Hogan Lovells

Magnet School Shark Tank

Back by popular demand, MSA will host its own version of the hit television show Shark Tank where educational companies you may not have heard of will demonstrate how their products can enhance your schools and classrooms. 

Stepping into the tank - 

Healthy Hands Cooking is a national company partnering with Magnet Schools of America to offer "HHC Kids Club" wellness education curriculum and tools to  teach students about gardening, nutrition, and healthy food preparation. All schools that sign up with HHC Kids Club receive a free account that includes free resources, store items to hold and teach classes, and specialty curriculum bundles. Discount coupons are available to all MSA members.

CleverBooks is a Dublin based company that aims to make 21st century education accessible for children all around the world. CleverBooks provides STEM-certified EdTech resources that schools already use as a supplementary to the curriculum for primary years, which bring subject matter "to life" by visualizing it in 3D with the use of Augmented Reality (AR) technology. To celebrate our partnership, they are offering a 15% discount on CleverBooks EdTech resources powered by AR with the code "MSACB18".

Progate is an online programming education platform with 500,000 users worldwide. They offer a fully equipped coding environment for beginners, along with a team dashboard for teachers to manage students. Progate offers coding lessons in multiple programming languages. 
As a special offer, MSA members can receive their first-year of service for free.


DoubleTree by Hilton Columbia
2100 Bush River Road
Columbia, SC 29210
(803) 744-0130

*The group block expires on Friday, September 10, 2018, so please make your reservation today. Room rate is not guaranteed for all nights and is based on availability. 

Creativity Takes Center Stage
at New World School of the Arts

By embracing diversity and providing an innovative curriculum focused on individual artistic abilities, New World School of the Arts (NWSA) has established itself as one of Florida's premier magnet schools. The performing arts school has made it its mission to empower students to become local, national and international leaders by challenging them with fresh ideas and pushing them to be active members of a global community. Because of all this and more, Magnet Schools of America has recognized NWSA as one of only 18 Nationally Certified Demonstration Magnet Schools.

NWSA, whose mascot is the "Fightin' Pigeons," has four principle art departments: dance, music, theater, and visual arts. Prospective students admission is solely determined by their audition or portfolio review and adjudicated based on performance scores. 

Within these categories, students regularly compete at and produce performances of professional-level quality. The school's jazz ensemble is nationally renowned, winning the 2016 Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Competition and Festival at Lincoln Jazz Center in New York City. The concert choir has sung the national anthem for their local NBA team, the Miami Heat, and with the National Choirs of America at the renowned, Carnegie Hall in New York City. These are just a few examples of the reputation NWSA has garnered in the world of the performing arts due to its competitive spirit and dedication to quality.

With a graduation rate of 100 percent, NWSA also focuses on setting student's success in both arts conservatories and academic colleges. The school offers Advanced Placement courses in all subject areas, and in their arts classes, sophomores, juniors and seniors can earn dual enrollment credit on the Miami-Dade College Wolfson Campus. The ambitious coursework provides college level courses in each discipline to students with exposure to college-level thinking across subject areas, from core subjects, where each department has more than 20 faculty members from Miami-Dade College and the University of Florida. And it's working: approximately 10 percent of NWSA graduates attend an Ivy League university, and the graduating class of 2017 received a total of $36 million in scholarships.  Keep Reading>>

New Cohort of Nationally Certified
Magnet  Schools Announced for 2018

Magnet Schools of America is proud to announce a new cohort of nationally certified magnet schools for 2018. These 21 schools located in 12 states successfully completed a nine-month evaluation process and demonstrated through evidence, reflection, and strategic action that they have established the Magnet School  Standards of Excellence  in their schools.

Among the cohort of nationally certified schools, three were identified as National Demonstration Schools. These schools exceeded the criteria outlined in the Standards of Excellence and are models that should be closely observed and replicated. The Demonstration Schools will serve as innovation laboratories for others to learn best practices and follow.

"The certification process recognizes the highest quality schools in public education. Nationally certified magnet schools illustrate and emulate rigorous theme-based curriculum, ensure diverse settings in which students thrive and are prepared for college and career," said Kelly Bucherie, Director for Magnet School Leadership, Magnet Schools of America.

The newest cohort increases the total number of nationally certified magnet schools to 114 schools. Among these certified schools, 18 have been designated as National Demonstration Schools. 

Additional magnet schools are going through the national certification application process this school year. All newly certified magnet schools will be recognized during a ceremony held at Magnet Schools of America's 37th National Conference in Baltimore, Maryland on April 10-13, 2019.

New Career and Technical Education
"Perkins Act" S igned Into Law

Tampa Tech graduate David Thompson (R) joins the president as he signs the new Perkins Act.
On July 31, the president approved his first piece of major education legislation when he signed the  Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century (Perkins V) Act. This law reauthorizes for six years the federal government's main career and technical education program that provides more than $1 billion dollars annually to state and local education agencies. The Perkins Act was originally created in 1984 and is designed to help high school and community college students develop the skills necessary to fill in-demand industry jobs.

During the consideration of the new law, House Committee on Education and the Workforce Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) stated, "We have more than six million unfilled jobs in this country, due in large part to the skills gap. The skills gap is partly the result of an outdated approach to workforce development. The new Perkins Act supports innovative learning opportunities and strong community partnerships, addressing the problem of vacant jobs and workforce development needs where they exist: at the local level."

The bill received widespread bipartisan support and was passed unanimously in the Senate. The legislation has been lauded for providing flexibility to states by giving them more leeway on how to spend federal CTE resources and measure the success of their programs. The Act will go into effect on July 1, 2019.

States will begin to implement the law during a first-year transition period. This will give them time to develop four-year plans in consultation with a wide range of stakeholders, including parents, students, community representatives, CTE program leaders, workforce development boards, business and industry leaders, labor representatives, and others. 

Within the plans, states will set their own accountability and performance goals. Previously, states had to negotiate their goals with the U.S. Department of Education. Once set, states will have to annually report how well they are progressing toward their goals. If states are not meeting them, they will be required to implement an improvement plan. This was required under the previous law, however, now improvement plans will be developed with local stakeholders and overseen by state leaders, not the USDOE. 

During a bill signing ceremony held at Tampa Bay Technical High School, a nationally certified magnet program in Florida, 2014 graduate David Thompson, joined the president to share how the school's welding program prepared him for life and how he his making "six figures" as a pipe welder. David emphasized that the trades and other opportunities besides college can lead to very successful careers. He added, "To parents watching: please get your kids to Tampa Tech."

To learn more about the new Perkins Act, please review this policy brief prepared by Advance CTE and the Association for Career and Technical Education.

Money for Magnets

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

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-October 1, 2018.

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. 

The  Society of Aviation & Flight Educators is accepting applications for its K-12 Classroom Teacher Grant program.  Grants of up to $250 will be awarded to classroom teachers to incorporate aviation-themed lessons into their regular curriculum. Application Deadline: August 31, 2018

Project Learning Tree is accepting applications from schools for environmental service-learning projects through its GreenWorks! grants program. It is designed to help students make their schools more green and healthy by implementing recycling programs, conserving water and energy, improving air quality, or establishing school gardens and outdoor classrooms. Application Deadline: September 30, 2018

Toshiba America Foundation is accepting grant applications from K-5 grade school teachers for innovative science or math projects in their own classroom. The foundation awards individual grants of up to $1,000 in support of hands-on science or math education projects. Application Deadline: October 1, 2018

Through its Learning and Leadership program, the NEA Foundation awards grants of up to $2,000 to public school teachers, and public education support professionals for participation in high-quality professional development experiences such as summer institutes or action research. It also awards grants of up to $5,000 in support of group projects related to collegial study, including study groups, action research, lesson study, or mentoring experiences for faculty or staff new to an assignment. Application Deadline: October 15, 2018

American Electric Power (AEP) is accepting applications from pre-K-12 teachers for mini-grants in support of classroom projects during the 2018-19 school year.
Through the Teacher Vision Grant Program, AEP will award grants of up to $500 to projects that have an academic focus and a goal to improve student achievement. Priority will be given to projects that promote science, mathematics, technology, electrical safety, the study of energy and the environment, and energy efficiency. Application Deadline: February 22, 2019

Magnet Schools Making News

Andrew Jackson High School has seen its fair share of challenges and gains. Once graded the lowest "F" in the state, it's now just four percentage points away from being an "A" ranked magnet school. We spoke to the woman who helped make the transformation.

The Title I school that serves more than 1,000 sixth- through eighth-grade students in Tucson - was among the 41 Arizona public schools that earned the A+ School of Excellence Award this year.  Schools that apply for the award are evaluated in the areas of student focus and support, school culture, active teaching and learning, curriculum, leadership, community and parent involvement and assessment data.

How one teacher makes impossible college dreams possible for students

Ivy Plus Academy is a special program offered by Fern Creek High School, a 1,760-student public magnet school. It works to match selected low-income, first-generation students with colleges and universities that can assist them with financial aid.

K.O. Knudson Academy of Creative Arts and Technology in Las Vegas and Bridger STEAM Academy in North Las Vegas will join seven other district schools certified by the group, which bestows the standing based on certain standards of excellence and other factors.

Go behind the scenes as Nursery Road Elementary prepares to launch a
new arts magnet program.

The school day is in full force at Clyde Erwin Elementary Magnet School, one of Onslow County's two year-round locations. Hallways are adorned with the vibrant colors of international flags and classrooms are complete with children learning. Behind the scenes, though, a lot goes into making sure students are receiving a quality education and a positive experience, and in some cases that means teachers are shouldering out-of-pocket costs.

The deafening cheers from the crowd of kids would be at home at a football or basketball game, but Friday they were watching a tiny red robot push another out of a ring on a table at the Municipal Building. The 25 students gathered for the second Augusta Cyber & Robotics Camp were clearly enjoying the contest but also learning coding and cybersecurity, a field some of them could see themselves continuing in.

In tonight's What's Working, we take you inside a unique summer camp that is teaching middle school students an art form, that some say  is  dying. We are talking about jazz. These students are keeping it alive.

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


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



Earlier Submission

October 23, 2018


November 20, 2018


November 20, 2018
December 11, 2018


January 15, 2019


Award Guidelines a nd Criteria  are now available
using the links above. 

The online application  system 
will  go live next week!

Mark Your

Fall Technical
Assistance & Training Conference

October 3-5, 2018

DoubleTree by Hilton
Columbia, SC


Policy Training

February 6-8, 2019

Marriott Marquis
Washington, DC


37th National 
Conference on Magnet Schools

April 10-13, 2019

Baltimore Marriott Waterfront
Baltimore, MD

Know a teacher 
who deserves 

Sanford Programs is awarding 50 truly inspirational teachers
across the nation with the Sanford Teacher Award. 

It will choose one winner to receive the $50,000 grand prize and 49 remaining finalists to receive an award of $10,000 each.

Nominate an inspiring 
teacher now!

East Baton Rouge Students Win
Prestigious Award
Congratulations to 
Madison  James, Trinity Schley,  and Caleb Rackley from Southeast Middle Magnet in Baton Rouge who received a top prize at the Global Student Film Festival in Chicago!

Their film "In Another's Shoes" won the middle school category.

  They were presented with their award at the ISTE annual conference and participated in a "talk" about their film-making process.

Watch the video 
and talk

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