Magnet Schools of America Newsletter
July 2017
Fall Technical Assistance Conference
Magnets by Design (MbD)
Register now for the annual fall technical assistance and training conference in Bloomington-Minneapolis, MN, October 4-6, 2017. Experience a journey through the opportunities and services members are requesting from MSA's National Institute for Magnet School Leadership (NIMSL)!  

Build and strengthen your leadership teams and their capacity to support your schools and programs. This technical assistance conference will provide teachers, school and district leaders, and school advocates a unique lens into the world of the Standards of Excellence and beyond. 

Sessions will focus on magnet entrepreneurship, strategic opportunities, innovative magnet practices, and leveraging diversity. 

Magnet School Tours

The fall conference will be held in collaboration withe Minneapolis Public Schools and will feature tours of the district's magnet school offerings that include International Baccalaureate, STEM, Montessori, Foreign Language and more.  

Opening Keynote Presenter 

Dr. Brenda Cassellius
Minnesota Commissioner of Education

S ince her appointment as Commissioner of Education in 2010, Dr. Brenda Cassellius has endeavored to enact comprehensive education reform that will benefit every child throughout Minnesota. Dr. Cassellius believes that change can happen quickly if it is purposeful, collaborative, and grounded in effective strategies.

A respected educator throughout her profession and across partisan lines, Commissioner Cassellius was critical in passing new alternative licensure; principal and teacher evaluation laws; as well as increased funding for PK-12 education; legislation ensuring a sharp, statewide focus on every child reading well by 3rd grade; and expanded access to quality early childhood education. 


Hyatt Regency
3200 E 81st Street
Bloomington, MN 55425
(888) 421-1442

*The group block expires on Friday, September 8, 2017, so please make your reservation today. Room rate is not guaranteed for all nights and is based on availability. Reserve your room

Congress Begins Appropriations
Process by Funding Magnet Schools

This week the U.S. House Appropriations Committee approved their FY 2018 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education appropriations bill. The legislation passed by a partisan vote (28-22) and includes $96.4 million in funding for the Magnet Schools Assistance Program. This is welcome news as the U.S. Department of Education completes its first five-year grant competition this summer. Once complete, funding will be available for grantees participating in the program for the first time under the Every Student Succeeds Act or ESSA. 

Overall the bill reported by the committee would cut funding for the U.S. Department of Education by $2.4 billion. In comparison, President Trump's budget released in May calls for a $9.2 billion cut to DOE. A large portion of the cuts in the House bill come from eliminating Title II formula grants provided by the Supporting Effective Instruction State Grants program. These grants are used for  teacher professional development and reducing class sizes.

The Trump Administration also proposed the elimination of this program in its budget stating, "the grants are poorly targeted and funds are spread too thinly to have a meaningful impact on student outcomes. In addition, there is limited evidence that teacher professional development, a primary activity funded by the program, has led to increases in student achievement."

Congressman David Price from North Carolina who attempted to restore funding to the program through the amendment process, pointed out that 98 percent of school districts rely on this funding. He added, "None of the education reforms that we talk about and want to implement will be worth a thing without a first-rate teaching force."

In other areas, the House Appropriations Committee bill would:
  • Level fund or freeze Title I dollars used to support low-income disadvantaged students;
  • Increase IDEA funding for students with disabilities by $200 million;
  • It would fund career and technical education at last year's level;
  • Increase charter school funding by $28 million;
  • Funding would not be provided to support the controversial Title I portability and voucher proposal included in the president's budget. 
Now that the U.S. House of Representatives has introduced its appropriations bill for fiscal year 2018, which begins October 1, the U.S. Senate must follow suit and pass similar legislation before submitting a complete bill to the president for his signature. As the appropriations process continues we will keep you informed of any important developments. 
Meet the Members of the Board 

Magnet Schools of America is pleased to announce the executive officers and members of the board of directors for the 2017-2018 school year.    
President - Sara Wheeler has over 40 years of experience in the field of education and is employed by District Five of Lexington & Richland Counties in Columbia, South Carolina. Ms. Wheeler has held a variety of positions throughout her career; classroom teacher, magnet school teacher, magnet school administrator, Smaller Learning Communities Site Coordinator and Project Director for three MSAP funded grants.

As a member of the board of directors, Sara has previously served as a Director At Large, Regional Director/Regional Chairperson, President-Elect, and now President.
President Elect - Susan King has worked as an educator for over 35 years. She served as Magnet Supervisor for Hillsborough County Public Schools in Tampa, FL where she evaluated magnet schools and programs in the district and at the national level. She was also the project manager for two MSAP federal grants. 

She is currently an educational consultant and presents and trains locally and nationally on a variety of topics including theme integration, instructional technology, curriculum development, and cultural competence. 

Immediate Past President - Doreen Marvin is the former Director of Development at LEARN in Old Lyme, Connecticut. She has extensive experience working with communities locally, statewide, and nationally. Ms. Marvin is also trained in strategic planning, creative planning, and systems approaches to organizational development. 

Treasurer - Scott Thomas currently serves as principal of Glacier Hills Elementary School of Arts & Science in Eagan, MN. Prior to that, he was the Executive Director for Magnet Schools of America where he led efforts to develop national standards for magnet schools.  In addition, Scott served as the Educational Equity Coordinator for seven years in District 196 where he worked to increase access to opportunity for students and eliminate racial disparities in achievement.

Secretary - Cari Kupec has served 21 years with Brevard Public Schools and is the Magnet Schools Assistance Program (MSAP) Project Director. She previously held positions as the Project Manager of Race to the Top, Assistant Principal, and Coordinating Teacher under MSAP funding.  She has worked with students from diverse backgrounds as a classroom teacher, and enjoys the challenge of magnet school reform. 

- Dr. Robert Strickland is Administrative Director of School Choice and Parental Options for Miami-Dade County Public Schools in Miami, Florida. He is the Director of 384 magnet programs and is responsible for directing staff assigned to develop, implement, and monitor the Magnet Schools Assistance Program (MSAP) grant.

Past Presidents  - Voting Members
  • Dr. Robert Brooks - President (1998-2000)
  • Diane Creekmore - President (2004-2006)
  • Dr. Michelle Frazier - President (2012-2014)
Regional Directors -
  • Region 1 - Art Arpin, Educational Consultant, East Hartford, Connecticut 
  • Region 2 - Bryan Stoll, Supervisor of Magnet Programs, Baltimore County Public Schools, Maryland
  • Region 3 - Evonne Alvarez, Principal, New World School of the Arts, Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Florida
  • Region 4  - Dr. Kim Morrison, Superintendent, Mount Airy City Schools, North Carolina
  • Region 5  - Theresa Porter, Director of Magnet Programs, East Baton Rouge Parish School System, Louisiana
  • Region 6 - Jeff Peterson, Principal, Summit View Elementary Magnet School of Integrated Arts, Design, and Creativity, Wisconsin
  • Region 7 - Dr. Kim Johnson Burkhalter, Equity/Diversity and Magnet Programs Director, Wichita Public Schools, Kansas
  • Region 8 - Gia Moore, Director, Magnet Schools and Career and Technical Academies, Clark County School District, Nevada
Members of the Board of Directors take
the oath of office during the national conference in Los Angeles. 
Specialized Directors - 
  • Dr. Jennifer Ayscue, Research Associate, The Civil Rights Project, UCLA
  • Lucilla Davila, EdLd, Associate Superintendent of Magnet Schools, Minneapolis Public Schools 
  • Dr. Donna Elam, President/CEO, Elam Leadership Institute
  • Dr. Gladys Pack, Educational Consultant, SOPHRON Inc.
  • Enid Rey, Esq., Executive Director, School Choice Office, Hartford Public Schools
  • Maree Sneed, Partner, Hogan Lovells
Grants to Apply for this Summer 

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

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. 

One-year grants of up to $75,000 will be awarded to youth education projects with a specific focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) subjects and the environment. To be eligible, applicants must be a nonprofit charitable organization, or a public school district, private/public elementary, or secondary school.  Application Deadline: August 1, 2017.

The Kids In Need Foundation ,  is accepting applications for its new Teacher Supply Boxes program, which is focused on providing essential school supplies to pre-K-12 teachers of children in need. Successful applicants will receive two large boxes containing a predetermined assortment of essential items, including pencils, scissors, paper, and notebooks.

To be eligible, applicants must be a certified pre-K-12 teacher in the United States and work for a school in which 70 percent of the students receive free or reduced-price lunches.  The foundation will be accepting applications for 2017 grants between July 13 and August 14, 2017.

The foundation is accepting grant applications from pre-K-12 educators who need financial assistance to maintain or implement an arts education program in the 2018-19 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 Deadline: September 30, 2017.

Constellation is accepting grant applications for local community-based projects designed to inspire students to think differently about energy. Grants of up to $25,000 will be awarded for projects at the 6-12 grade level. The company will give priority to team-oriented, learning-focused, hands-on demonstration projects that achieve specific results and reach a minimum of a hundred students. Proposed projects must be located in areas where Constellation does business. Application Deadline October 1, 2017.

The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics is accepting applications from teachers of preK-2 mathematics for projects that incorporate music into the elementary school classroom. Grants of up to $3,000 will be awarded to individual classroom teachers or small groups of teachers collaborating in a single grade or across grade levels.  Application Deadline: November 23, 2017.

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, 2017. 

Magnet School Openings


Miller Fine Arts Magnet Middle School (Macon, GA)  has the following opening:
  • Orchestra Teacher - Candidates must be certified in, or eligible for certification in Music (P-12).    
Central Fine Arts and International Baccalaureate High School (Macon, GA) has two openings:
  • Visual Arts Teacher. The candidate must be certified in, or eligible for certification in Visual Art (P-12). Experience with Ceramics is preferred.
  • Strings Orchestra Teacher - Candidates must be certified in, or eligible for certification in Music (P-12).
To apply for these positions, please visit our  job openings webpage.

Richland School District 2 in Columbia, 
South Carolina is hiring for two positions. 

L.W. Conder Elementary -  Music Teacher - Elementary Strings - Apply Now!

Kelly Mill Middle School - Music Teacher - Orchestra - Apply Now! 

Welcome Our Membership Coordinator

We are happy to announce that Faith Goodwin has joined Magnet Schools of America and will serve as Membership Coordinator in our Washington, DC office.  Faith enjoys working with members in a wide variety of areas, but likes helping them maximize their return on their membership the most.

Faith comes from a donor-relations background, and most recently served as the Individual Giving Coordinator at The Fund for American Studies. Faith has also worked in the legislative field and on several political campaigns.

Faith decided to join MSA because she went to two magnet schools in middle and high school and knows how life-changing they are.

She graduated cum laude with honors from Florida State University with a double major in political science and international affairs. An avid sports fan, Faith enjoys spending her time cheering on the Florida State Seminoles and the Miami Marlins. She also has been an active swing dancer for the last several years. 

You may reach Faith by email with any membership questions at:

Magnets Making News 
Dancing Through Life: Performer tells her story through dance

One night, at 18, Bastos found herself seated next to a friend who had fallen asleep at the wheel. The car crashed into a cement light pole, hitting the passenger side. Bastos woke up in the hospital and half of her right leg was gone. "My mind went right into survival mode," she says. "I was like, what am I going to do, I can't dance - I don't have a foot."

After three canceled flights and a layover in Chicago, Parker Guarisco and Gwen Roland arrived in Lincoln, Nebraska, a day late, thinking they'd likely perform their 5-minute acting piece once and then enjoy the rest of the International Thespian Festival. Instead, the middle schoolers swept their category - duet acting - beating out many actors from around the country who were much older.

Houston ISD's Carnegie Vanguard High School Developing Environmental Leaders

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently awarded $76,744 to the Student Conservation Association (SCA) to implement environmental education programs. The SCA will work with students at Carnegie Vanguard High School, a magnet school in the Houston Independent School District to improve environmental literacy and stewardship.

On her first day of high school, 13-year-old Emma Lein had all the normal anxieties and hopes. She wanted to join clubs and make new friends. She worried about the workload and time management.

A group of students from Enloe High School in Raleigh has won a national fan vote for their app that shows users how to use CPR during an emergency to save the life of a person whose heart has stopped.

Brooklyn Technical High School or Stuyvesant High School in Lower Manhattan, two of New York City's nine specialized public schools focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) became the models for Midtown High, where Peter is often one of the only white kids we see.

Desiree Armas worked hard in high school. So when she graduated in June from Union County Magnet High School in New Jersey, Armas had the flair to prove it. She was decked out in medals and honor cords - braided ropes with tassels on the end, in bright red and gold, that represent her academic and extracurricular accomplishments during high school.

CDF Freedom Schools is a summer program that seeks to build strong, literate, and empowered children prepared to make a difference in themselves, their families and communities. Freedom Schools plays a major role in helping students curb summer learning and close achievement gaps.

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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.

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Renew Your Membership
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Magnet Schools of America memberships expired on June 30, 2017. 

To continue receiving important member benefits please make sure to renew your membership for the 
next school year! 

Please email MSA's Membership Coordinator, Faith Goodwin at
 to renew your membership or to ask any questions! 

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