Magnet Schools of America Newsletter
    May 2018
36th National Conference - 
Let Your Light Shine! 

Nikole Hannah-Jones who covers civil-rights and school segregation issues for the NY Times talks about her experience as an African-American parent and the inequities found in public schools. 
Magnet Schools of America (MSA) recently held its 36th National Conference in Chicago, Illinois where magnet school leaders and educators from across the country gathered to share best practices and to recognize the nation's top magnet school programs. Adding to the experience conference host, Chicago Public Schools rolled out the red carpet during school tours and took center stage during magnificent student exhibitions and performances.

The national conference kicked off with a provocative keynote presentation by New York Times investigative reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones who challenged the audience and the magnet school community at-large to remember its roots and original mission of pursuing the goals of school diversity. She said that school integration should be a guiding principle adding, "when we ignore the one 'reform' that we know works best, we must confront the question of why." She continued, "our children know how much we value them by the schools we design for them. We choose equality or we choose injustice." 

Throughout the conference, MSA helped advance the field of magnet school education by providing training and support during breakout sessions that focused on magnet theme development, project-based learning, arts integration, community partnerships, entrepreneurship, and much more.

The event culminated with a GLOW reception that lit up the night where this year's Magnet Schools of America Principal of the Year, Teacher of the Year, and other top  national awards  were announced. In addition, MSA revealed that the 37th National Conference will be held in Baltimore in 2019! 

We would like to thank all of those who attended the national conference, Chicago Public Schools for hosting the event, and all our generous supporters and sponsors.

Conference Sponsors:

East Career Tech Named
Nation's Top Magnet School!

Staff from East Tech celebrate after winning the nation's most coveted magnet school award.
During the National Conference, East Career and Technical Academy in Las Vegas, Nevada was named the recipient of the Dr. Ronald P. Simpson Distinguished Merit Award for 2018. This award is given annually to the nation's top magnet school and commemorates the organization's founding member Dr. Ronald P. Simpson. It also includes a $5,000 cash prize sponsored by American Education Solutions, Inc.

East Career and Technical Academy is a Magnet Schools of America Nationally Certified Demonstration School. It is a Title I School and the only five-star high school in Nevada that serves a free and reduced lunch student population of over 60 percent. Students at East Tech enroll in one of eight themes such as construction technology, culinary arts, health information management, or marketing and hospitality. All of these programs are divided into three houses to promote a smaller learning community environment. It is part of the Clark County School District in Nevada.

Principal Darlin Delgado said, "Receiving the award is not only a recognition of the hard work and relentless commitment by the school's teachers, parents, and students, but also a testament to the school district's belief in providing choice to families and ensuring equitable access to world-class 21st century learning opportunities to a diverse population."

District Award for Magnet Sustainability
Given to Palm Beach County

Palm Beach County accepts the Donna Grady-Creer District Award for Magnet Sustainability during the 36th National Conference.
We are proud to announce the Donna Grady-Creer District Award for Magnet Sustainability is presented to the School District of Palm Beach County in South Florida.  The award acknowledges a school district that exemplifies equity, excellence, and diversity while sustaining strong and dedicated support for magnet schools. 

Donna Grady-Creer was one of the original founders of Magnet Schools of America. She served as President from 2000-2002 and continued her service on the Board of Directors until her passing in 2013. Donna was known for visionary leadership, compassion, and love for magnet schools.

In Palm Beach County, families have the opportunity to choose from an array of theme-based curricula offerings in the 115 magnet schools and 315 programs offered in the district. Palm Beach County's  magnet programs are committed to equity and are designed to attract all students. The district is proud that the student demographics of its magnet programs almost perfectly reflect the diversity of the district as a whole. 

Dr. Stephen Hefner Named Magnet
School Superintendent of the Year

Dr. Stephen Hefner accepts the National Magnet School Superintendent of the Year Award with MSA President Sara Wheeler. 

As a result of his leadership at the national, state and local levels in advocating, developing, and supporting magnet schools, Magnet Schools of America is pleased to name Dr. Stephen Hefner from School District Five of Lexington and Richland Counties in South Carolina the National Magnet School Superintendent of the Year. This annual award recognizes the important work of leadership within our school districts to keep magnet schools a priority in the portfolio of school choice options.

"This is a tremendous honor," Hefner said. "I think Horace Mann said it best when he said, "Education is best provided in schools embracing children of all religious, social, and ethnic backgrounds. Magnets help us do this, by providing parents with high-quality public school choice. I'm honored to represent superintendents who promote magnet schools nationwide and proud of the great magnet programs we have in School District Five."

Dr. Hefner's unyielding focus on expanding school choice by creating magnet options in District Five has been the catalyst for school improvement districtwide.  Spanning nearly 30 years, Dr. Hefner has facilitated the creation of numerous magnet schools and programs in two South Carolina districts, many of which have been recognized by Magnet Schools of America as Schools of Excellence and Schools of Distinction, and achieved designation as Nationally Certified Magnet Schools.

In District Five, Dr. Hefner has also helped school leaders secure two multi-million dollar federal Magnet School Assistance Program (MSAP) grants, including a $10.3 million grant in 2013 and $13.7 million grant announced last fall.

Spring Hill High's Michael Lofton Named National Magnet School Principal of the Year

Dr. Michael Lofton accepts the 2018 National Magnet School Principal of the Year Award during the GLOW Reception in Chicago.
Magnet Schools of America is pleased to announce that 
Dr. Michael Lofton
from Spring Hill High School in School District Five of Lexington and Richland Counties located in Columbia, South Carolina is the 2018 National Magnet School Principal of the Year. 

Dr. Lofton is the founding principal of Spring Hill High School, a career pathways magnet school in School District Five that offers five focus programs to students from grades 9-12 including: Engineering, Entertainment, Entrepreneurial, Environmental Studies and Exercise Science academies. Through these academies, students are immersed in high tech, real-world environments which develop core knowledge, ignite imagination and make learning relevant by using themed standards-based curriculum. 

Spring Hill  is ranked as the third best high school in the state of South Carolina for 2018 by the U.S. News & World Report  and its students consistently perform above state and national averages on SAT, ACT, and AP exams.

"This award is not about me, it's really about the amazing students and staff we have at Spring Hill High School," Lofton said. "I am so lucky to work with such great teachers, administrators and support staff. I'm fortunate that I get to represent all of us."

Museums Magnet Elementary Teacher
Named National Teacher of the Year

Magnet Schools of America is proud to announce that Dr. April Guenzler from Brooks Museums Magnet Elementary in the Wake County Public School System in Raleigh, North Carolina is the 2018 National Magnet School Teacher of the Year. Through a competitive application process, Dr. Guenzler was selected from a group of eight Regional Teachers of the Year from across the country.  She has been a classroom teacher in North Carolina for 17 years. She became a National Board certified teacher in 2014 and graduated with an EdD in Curriculum and Instruction from Gardner-Webb University in May of 2016. 

Dr. Guenzler loves working with families and their communities and is passionate about integrated curriculum. She has been a part of her school since the conception of its magnet program and her teaching philosophy clearly aligns with the Paideia principles, which provide the foundation for Brooks Museums Magnet Elementary. She believes that learning occurs when students are actively engaged in hands-on authentic experiences and she has facilitated professional development on Paideia Principles, Responsive Classroom, museums approaches to learning, the Theory of Multiple Intelligences (MI), and curriculum unit design.

She is also a mentor at her school and works weekly with new teachers (during their first three years of initial licensure) to develop their capacity in teaching. Most recently she was invited by Gardner-Webb faculty to become involved with the Urban Educators Leadership Collaborative (UELC) through Teachers College at Columbia University, NY.

Join us this Fall in South Carolina


Join us this October in Columbia, South Carolina as we take a "Deeper Dive" into the Five Pillars for Magnet Schools:
  • Diversity
  • Innovative Curriculum & Professional Development
  • Academic Excellence
  • High Quality Instructional Systems
  • Family and Community Partnerships
In collaboration with Richland School District Two AND School District Five of Lexington and Richland Counties

Next School Year, Accept the Challenge
and Become Nationally Certified

The National Institute for Magnet School Leadership (NIMSL) is continuing to accept applications to participate in the Standards of Excellence National Certification Program until June 30, 2018Before the end of the school year be sure to sign-up to be recognized as one of the premier magnet schools in the nation! The next cohort will begin the certification process this August and run through June of 2019. 

As your school participates in the nine-month certification process, it will submit evidence demonstrating how it meets each of the multiple indicators included in the Standards of Excellence. This includes providing specific examples of how your school incorporates best practices, promotes school diversity, improves student achievement, closes the achievement gap, integrates innovative theme-based curricula in all classes, and encourages parent and community involvement.

Schools that meet all the criteria within the Standards of Excellence will become nationally certified. Those that exceed the criteria will be labeled as Demonstration Schools. All schools that become nationally certified will be able to promote their prominent status as an exemplary magnet program in their community!

Do you have questions about National Certification? Please watch this recorded informational webinar to see if your school is ready to be certified. 

Summer Learning and Development

Reimagining Education Summer Institute Offers
Professional Development for Magnet School Educators

The Reimagining Education: Teaching and Learning in Racially Diverse Schools Summer Institute at Teachers College, Columbia University offers the latest thinking on how to teach students from different racial and ethnic backgrounds within one school and classroom. 

From July 16-19, 2018, over 350 teachers, principals, superintendents and policy makers will gather with Teachers College faculty experts to gain the knowledge and tools to foster inclusive learning environments in which all students learn from one another. 

Registration fees are $275 for a day pass, eligible for 0.75 Continuing Education Units (CEUs), and $795 for all four days, eligible for 3 CEUs. 

To register, contact For more information, visit:

Money for Magnets

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. 

Through its Living in a Material World program, the ASM Materials Education Foundation will award twenty grants of $500 each in support of hands-on curriculum-based K-12 projects that involve student observation, communications, mathematics, and science skills and enhance student awareness of the materials around them. K-12 teachers are eligible to apply. Application Deadline: May 25, 2018

NEA Foundation Learning and Leadership Grants - The program provides grants to public school teachers and public education support professionals to fund participation in high-quality professional development experiences. The grant amounts are $2,000 for individuals and $5,000 for groups. Application Deadline: June 1, 2018

Crayola, in collaboration with the National Association of Elementary School Principals, is accepting applications for the 2018 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 22, 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

Magnet Schools Making News

"The research shows that it leads to better cognitive function for kids so they're going to have better results, academically," Kamin said. "It's also going to help with behavioral issues in the  classroom,  because if kids are able to move, they're not going to have so much excess energy. They're going to be able to focus, and it's going to solve a lot of the sort of interpersonal issues that come up with kids as  well,  because they're going to have an opportunity to get that energy out."

Sitting in the back of the classroom, Hermes Velasquez was a quiet student. He had stage fright and was embarrassed to stand up in front of other students at an award-winning magnet school for the performing arts south of Miami. But slowly, with the help of his teacher, Adalberto Acevedo, and the school's family-like culture, Velasquez overcame his stage fright. To get over his fear, he familiarized himself with the stage by helping to put props out. Then he started acting in supporting roles.

East Career and Technical Academy received the top merit award this year from Magnet Schools of America - the No. 1 honor among the association's many awards. At East, students can choose from eight programs of study ranging from early childhood education to mechanical technology. The students know they're in a special place. "I feel like with them expecting a lot from us, it kind of pushes us toward better," said marketing program junior Aurora Osuna.

New London is the state's only full magnet district. Parents and students can choose themes like STEM - science, technology, engineering, mathematics, language  and  culture. Nathan Hale Arts Magnet School is project-based learning. For one project, students worked on an opera, where kids wrote, produced, acted, sang and did everything in between!

A Wake County school and one of the district's teachers have been named the best in the United States by the nation's leading magnet school organization. Farmington Woods Elementary School in Cary received Magnet School of America's Elementary Magnet School of Merit Award, given annually to the nation's top elementary magnet school. The organization also named April Guenzler, a kindergarten teacher at Brooks Elementary School in Raleigh, as its 2018 National Teacher of the Year.

At Morris Intermediate School (I.S. 61) in Brighton Heights, the performing arts take center stage .Three-quarters  of the 965 students are  arts  majors, devoting one period of instruction each day to choices including band, strings, orchestra, vocals, dance  and  drama.  "Children need more than academics and the core curriculum" for a successful intermediate-school experience, says Susan Tronolone, finishing her seventh year as Morris principal.

* 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.

Student Poster Contest Winner!
Congratulations to the winner of the 12th Annual Magnet Schools of America Student Poster Contest!

Sofia DeLeon
4th Grade 
Bethune Academy
Aldine Independent School District, Texas

 Teacher: Brian Thompson

See all grade 
level winners
MSA 2018

photos from the 
Merit Awards 

Magnet School
Job Opening

Miller Fine Arts Magnet Middle School (Macon, GA) has the following opening:

Visual Arts Teacher

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