Magnet Schools of America Newsletter
June 2017
Summer - A Great Time to Reflect

Executive Director Todd Mann addresses the Magnet Schools of the Mid-South Conference in Baton Rouge last November. 
As summer officially kicks off and we mark the end of another successful school year, I would like to thank you for your dedicated service to our nation's students and your involvement with Magnet Schools of America (MSA). 
Reflecting on the past school year, here are some things I would like to point out. As our organization continues to gain stature and prominence, we have established a tradition of welcoming the incoming U.S. Secretary of Education to speak at our national policy conference in Washington, DC. First, we hosted the former Secretary of Education John King and this past year Betsy DeVos. As a nonpartisan organization, I believe it is always important for us to open up a dialogue with the current administration about the benefits of magnet schools. This outreach has paid dividends as funding for the Magnet Schools Assistance Program has withstood threats over the last couple of years and was thankfully included in the president's budget for next fiscal year. 

Another development that I am proud to mention is that MSA ushered in a new era by launching the first ever national magnet school certification program. I am happy to report that 110 magnet schools in 35 school districts are participating in the first cohort of schools going through the certification process, and that the first nationally certified schools will be announced at the end of August. Naturally, our second cohort of schools is already working hard to complete the certification process next winter. For those who are interested in the certification program, it not too late to sign up to join the third cohort of schools that will start the process in the fall.

During the summer, we hope you will take time to rest and recharge your batteries. We also hope you will use the break to grow professionally and plan for the next school year. One step you can take is to get a head start on preparing for our  national awards program. Applications for merit awards, superintendent, principal, and teacher of the year will be released at the beginning of the fall. We encourage you to begin thinking about the process of applying and how to fulfill the necessary requirements now. 

In addition,  be sure to add our upcoming events to your calendar including the Fall Technical Assistance Conference October 4-6 in Minneapolis, MN, the National Policy Conference in Washington, DC  February 7-9, 2018, and our 36th National Conference in Chicago, IL April 25-29, 2018.  

Lastly, if your district or school is planning to go through a magnet review or improvement process, please consider utilizing the  National Institute for Magnet School Leadership and its team of qualified experts. They can assist with all aspects of magnet school design and implementation. 

Thank you again, please have a safe and enjoyable summer break!


Todd Mann
Executive Director
Flying Colors
A monthly column focusing on MSA members
MSA Region II Teacher of the Year, Bethany Birago
MSA's Region II (Delaware, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, The District of Columbia and International) Teacher of the Year, Bethany Birago, has quite an extensive resume. From serving as the Academy of Health Professions (AHP) Program teacher and Career and Technology Education (CTE) Department Chair at Western School of Technology and Environmental Science (WSTES) in Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS) to serving as an instructor with the America Heart Association, she does it all. In addition, she's an active registered nurse and a national registry paramedic, she works in an outpatient surgery center and volunteers at the local fire department; she works extra hours to stay current on new developments in her fields which also enables her to maintain a relevant perspective in her classroom.

Her path started simply enough. Birago began her undergrad career struggling to choose between becoming a nurse or a teacher. She eventually discovered that if she became an EMT she could begin working with patients much sooner and was hooked. She took coursework toward this end earning her Bachelor's degree in Emergency Health Services, and soon became a paramedic. In this work, she found her calling, but she had a desire to continue to grow and challenge herself and she still felt a pull to teach. 

Students learn how to interview patients at WSTES Academy of Health Professions in Baltimore County. 
She began teaching others in the health services profession and at the local high school during the day in 1999 while attending nursing classes on nights and weekends, eventually earning her Master of Science in Nursing in Health Care Systems Management. In 2011, she discovered a position opening at a magnet school, WSTES. The school needed faculty in their Academy of Health Professions, and it was a perfect fit for Birago. The role enabled her to bring together her varied experiences and contribute to WSTES' Career and Technology Education endeavors. Keep Reading>>

Education Policy Update

State of New York to Promote School Diversity in ESSA Plan
With the first of two major deadlines now passed, states have begun the process of finalizing and submitting their Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) implementation plans to the U.S. Department of Education. The plans detail how individual states will address changes made to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act also formerly known as No Child Left Behind during the 2017-2018 school year. 

Within these plans, states are required to layout their vision for  adopting academic standards, developing school accountability plans, supporting teachers and school leaders, and ensuring that all students (including English Language Learners and students with disabilities) are provided with a high-quality public education.

Currently, 17 states have submitted their ESSA plans to the department for approval while others have released their draft plans for public review before submitting them by the final submission deadline of September 18, 2017.

In a promising development, the State of New York has included in its plan a provision for increasing school diversity using Title I School Improvement funds. During the drafting process, the state referenced a strong body of research that shows that school integration leads to higher academic outcomes for students and is effective at closing the achievement gap between students of different backgrounds.

In coordination with the National Coalition on School Diversity, Magnet Schools of America has  promoted this action and also recommends that states include racial and socioeconomic integration goals in their accountability systems. This was initially proposed in the New York plan, but it was ultimately not included. 

Moving forward, we encourage you to utilize our ESSA Toolkit for Magnet Schools to engage your state education leaders and ask them to make school diversity a priority as they finalize your state's ESSA plans this summer.  

Magnet School Job Openings

1) The Duke Ellington School of the Arts, one of the premier public arts schools in the nation and the only comprehensive arts high school in the Washington, DC metro area, seeks a passionate, dynamic, and inspiring Head of School. 

This person will join an exceptional leadership team committed to further developing this world class arts high school of approximately 560 students, eight arts departments and a full academic program. 

The Duke Ellington School is moving into a newly renovated, state-of-the-art facility located in the Georgetown neighborhood of the nation's capital, which presents an exciting opportunity for the right leader.

Individuals interested in applying should contact Brian Nwachukwu. His email address is:

2)  Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) located in Charlotte, NC provides academic instruction, rigor and support each school day to more than 146,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade in 170 schools. CMS is seeking an experienced Arts Magnet School Principal with demonstrated ability to positively impact student achievement for all subgroups while developing a student's talent and passion for the arts. See the complete job announcement

If interested, please email a resume to

3) The Central Fine Arts and International Baccalaureate High School in Macon, GA has an opening for a Visual Arts Teacher. The candidate must be certified in, or eligible for certification in Visual Art (P-12). Experience with Ceramics is preferred.  Apply online now! 

Funding Opportunities for Magnets

business, money and office concept - smiling businesswoman in eyeglasses holding money bag with dollar
Crayola, in collaboration with the National Association of Elementary School Principals, is accepting applications for the 2017  Creative Leadership Grant  program. The program will award up to twenty grants of $2,500 each for innovative, creative, leadership-building programs in elementary schools. In addition, each program will receive an in-kind grant of Crayola products valued at $1,000. Application Deadline: June 23, 2017 

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 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

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 

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 

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. 

Welcome to the Team

We are excited to announce that Adriyanna Andreus has joined Magnet Schools of America and will serve as Administrative Assistant in our Washington, DC office. In this role, she will provide direct support to our Executive Director and Director of Operations. This includes overseeing all administrative duties related to membership and conferences. 

Adriyanna studied Political Science with a concentration in International Relations and Community Development at Howard University. She has had a great deal of experience in politics, social justice and civic engagement both locally and internationally. 

Additionally, Adriyanna serves in numerous leadership positions. She recently served as the Political Director for Pay Our Interns, a national campaign to advocate for more paid internships for millennials; lobbying and engaging Congress to offer fair wages to interns.

Currently, she is the founder and Chair for the DMV Haitian Student Association and the creator of #Home2Haiti a program to send young Haitian American adults from all over America to Haiti to strengthen the sense of solidarity between Haitian youth and communities throughout the world, and to promote the idea of a trip to Haiti for all of the Haitian Diaspora. 

If you need to reach Adriyanna you may contact her at

Magnets Making News 

Judge: Magnet schools cannot be made more segregated

The state will not be allowed to fill empty seats in the Hartford region's desegregated magnet schools with more black and Hispanic students from Hartford - at least for the next school year. Doing so, Hartford Superior Court Judge Marshall Berger ruled Friday, would erode the Connecticut Supreme Court's landmark Sheff v. O'Neill desegregation decision.

Richard Gutierrez was awarded the Regional Teacher of the Year award by Magnet Schools of America. He teaches third and second graders at Fairview STEM Academy in Lansing. Students said they have fun in his class because they laugh a lot and he encourages them to try their best.

Questlove and Black Thought met in high school - in the principal's office. The two crossed paths during Black Thought's freshman year at the Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts, the same magnet school attended by Boyz II Men and Christian McBride. 

Walking down the hallways of Florence Griffith Joyner Elementary School on a Thursday afternoon is like spinning a radio dial through the sweet tunes of arts programming.  Heavy bass wafts out of a hip hop dance class, the shrill squeaks of unseasoned trumpet players flow out of another classroom.

Lyndon Johnson was president when Carolyn Gray first began teaching in Philadelphia schools. A gallon of gas cost 33 cents when she first entered her classroom at Shawmont Elementary, a few months after the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. made an impassioned speech to students at Barratt Junior High in South Philadelphia.

For a long time, no one could identify the first-grader holding a "Class of 2017" sign in the old photograph hanging in the Clark County School District's board room. Then Nyla Christian attended a School Board meeting to offer public comment and recognized her son, Niko, in the photo.

An arts-focused magnet school in New Haven has struck an agreement for an exchange program described as the first formal partnership between an American public school and Chinese education officials. The agreement will bring top  arts  students from China to the Educational Center for the Arts and give the school's students opportunities to connect with a range of schools in China, according to the school's director, Jason Hiruo.

Last year Martin Luther King Jr. Magnet School student McKenna Mimms applied for summer jobs at two grocery store chains and at Baskin-Robbins. She did not hear back, so she spent the summer reading, watching TV and helping out around her house in Antioch. This summer is different. 

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


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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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Mark Your Calendar

2017 Fall Technical Assistance Conference 

Magnets by Design (MbD)

 October 4-6
, 2017

Hyatt Regency 
Minneapolis , MN

In collaboration with Minneapolis Public Schools

 Get Certified!

The National Institute for Magnet School Leadership (NIMSL) is continuing to accept applications to participate in the Standards of Excellence Certification Program until  Friday, 
June 30, 2017

Sign-up to be recognized as one of the premier magnet schools in the nation! The third cohort will begin the certification process this August and run through June of 2018.

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