Magnet Schools of America Newsletter
October 2018
MSA Fall Conference heads to Columbia, SC

Richland School District Two Chief Diversity and Multicultural Inclusion Officer, Dr. Helen Nelson Grant; Superintendent, Dr. Christina Melton; Superintendent, Dr. Baron Davis; and NASSP National Principal of the Year,
Dr. Akil Ross participate in a thought-leader discussion on school diversity.
MSA would like to thank School District Five of Lexington and Richland Counties as well as Richland School District 2 in South Carolina for hosting a magnificent fall conference earlier this month. 

We are extremely grateful to the schools who hosted site visits and the staff who presented during the conference. You did a fantastic job demonstrating the five pillars of magnet schools and the standards of excellence throughout the event.

During the conference we invited some extraordinary presenters to share their guidance and expertise including National Magnet School Superintendent of the Year, Dr. Stephen Hefner and the National Magnet School Principal of the Year, Dr. Michael Lofton. We were also very excited to have the superintendents of our host districts participate in a thought-leader panel discussion about the benefits and challenges of promoting school diversity.

Attendees utilize CleverBooks' AR technology to add a new dimension to geography.
For the third year in a row, we hosted our own
spin on the hit television show Shark Tank and invited three groundbreaking companies to pitch their  education services including software that helps students develop computer coding skills,  wellness education curriculum , and augmented reality (AR) technology.  We would like to thank Progate, Healthy Hands Cooking, and CleverBooks for jumping into the Magnet Tank. 

Throughout the conference, we also hosted numerous professional development sessions focused on culturally responsive instruction, STEAM education, effective school leadership, magnet program sustainability, and more. Presentations are now available on the conference website under the schedule tab.

We would like to thank all those who attended the fall conference this year and we hope you will join us for our next event, the Policy Training Conference in Washington, DC February 6-8, 2019.

MSA Magnet Advantage
We're pleased to announce the launch of  MSA Magnet Advantage , a program which offers members-only discounts on computers, office supplies, insurance, shipping, and more. Starting today, you can begin using your discounts and enjoying immediate savings. We'll also be sending you emails with special promotions to increase your savings opportunities.

Second, we've launched a targeted, Magnet-only jobs board! While both members and non-members can post jobs, members will receive a significant discount. With this feature, you can fill and find positions quickly, thanks to our search functionality and resume database access. Moreover, your postings can be distributed across other education job boards at your discretion.

We hope you will take advantage of these two new MSA member benefits!

Apply for a National Magnet School Award! 

Magnet Schools of America's  2018-2019 national awards season is in full swing. Please note, t he merit award application deadline has been extended until November 1. For additional important dates  please see the award programs below.  All MSA members  are eligible to participate. Winners will be recognized at the 37th National Conference in Baltimore, MD April 10-13, 2018.

The national merit awards program celebrates MSA membership schools through a competitive process. Open to members only, the awards provide an annual opportunity for schools to be recognized for their accomplishments.

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 President's Award, and others that recognize the nation's preeminent elementary, secondary, and new and emerging magnet schools.  

Application Deadline EXTENDED: Thursday , November 1, 2018

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 also demonstrates leadership at the national, state, and local levels in support of magnet schools.

Application Deadline: Tuesday, December 11, 2018  

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 including recommendation letters.

Application Deadline: Tuesday, November 20, 2018 

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: Tuesday, November  20, 2018

Magnet Schools of America is proud to sponsor its 13th 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: Tuesday, January 15, 2019
Cultivating Creativity, Curiosity, Innovation
With outstanding academic performance and a focus on curiosity and innovation, Glacier Hills Elementary School of Arts & Science (GHESAS) is one of the best magnet schools in the country. Glacier Hills uses science and mathematics, technology and multimedia arts to create the collaborative atmosphere essential to cultivating deeper learning experiences for its students. At GHESAS, students are prompted to ask questions and take risks through its inquiry approach, which encourages students to engage through application. As one of Magnet Schools of America's 18 national demonstration schools, this Eagan, Minnesota magnet school embraces the core missions of diversity and inclusion to prepare its young students to thrive in a global society.

Originally established in 1993, GHESAS became a magnet school in 2007 to attract students from beyond the traditional neighborhood attendance zone and improve the school's performance. In the ten years since, Glacier Hills' population has doubled - it now boasts 760 bright students from a wide array of backgrounds. Once a school that was often overlooked, GHESAS has transformed into an in-demand center of learning, with a waiting list that has doubled over the past four years.
Glacier Hills thoroughly embodies MSA's belief that diversity is a central pillar of what makes a strong magnet school. Fifty-two percent of the school's population are students of color, and a remarkable 48 languages are spoken by the student body. The school's demographic makeup reflects the realities of our modern global world, and provides students with the many known benefits of learning in a diverse classroom.

In addition to GHESAS' academic focus, the school has social justice standards that foster tolerance and acceptance among people from many different backgrounds. GHESAS' curriculum is inclusive and culturally responsive to the school's growing and diverse student population. Keep Reading >>

Make Learning Delicious

Healthy Hands Cooking had the pleasure and privilege of teaching more than 500 elementary students the importance of nutrition, gardening  and healthy food preparation by aligning HHC Kids Club educational wellness materials with current Science Units of Study for Kindergarten to 5th grade at Dutch Fork Elementary School in Irmo, SC. Students used various hands-on activities to learn about solar energy, conservation, recycling, mixtures, solutions, graphing, heat energy, and more through a variety of tasty experiments and delicious garden goodies!

"HHC is the whole package that includes health, skill sessions, current units of study and state standards with S.T.E.A.M components, recipe planning, measurement, use of what is growing in our gardens and food safety. The learning opportunities are endless and the kids are just so engaged! Every time I see kids in our hallway they ask when we're going to cook again. I look forward to continuing with this program in the future." 

- Amy Umberger, Resident Scientist, Magnet Theme Coordinator,
 Dutch Fork Elementary School

"Dutch Fork Elementary is an Environmental Sciences Magnet School whose mission is to develop students who care about the world they live in and express critical thinking through natural curiosity and wonder. The mission of HHC parallels our school efforts. We believe HHC will greatly enhance school programs that have a genuine interest in helping students to use the language and tools of both farmers and chefs in making healthy food choices".

- Julius Scott, Principal, Dutch Fork Elementary School

Be sure to contact MSA to receive your 20% discount code for lesson plan purchases. Please email:

National Policy Update

President Signs Budget Deal for FY 2019

In an impressive victory for MSA and the magnet school community, the United States Congress and the President agreed to a final budget deal that funds the U.S. Department of Education for fiscal year 2019. The agreement includes $105 million for the Magnet Schools Assistance Program (MSAP). This sustains the $7.35 million increase to the program that was provided last year.

As a result of the budget increase for MSAP, the U.S. Department of Education recently announced that it has awarded four additional magnet school grants to: Fort Wayne Community Schools, Galveston Independent School District, Northwest Suburban School District #6078, and Broward County Public Schools. 

The agreement also carries with it a significant shift on the use of federal funds for student busing to combat segregation. The bill eliminates a decades-old legislative rider that prohibits the use of federal funds for transportation costs for school desegregation. MSA worked with the National Coalition on School Diversity to ensure that this outdated anti-busing provision from the 1970s did not prevent current MSAP grantees from using their funding for school transportation as authorized under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

This change will allow at least seven current MSAP grantees to continue with their plans to provide federally supported transportation services to students that wish to attend a new magnet program. Without outreach by our members and active representation by MSA in the halls of Congress, this legislative victory could not have been accomplished!

Coming to Orlando this November

For nearly 20 years, the Blue Ribbon Schools of Excellence Conference has gathered the most dynamic and creative education professionals from around the world to share best practices. Its impact has been felt by thousands of districts, schools, educators - and ultimately students. Sharing best practices is a collaborative process - helping our colleagues and sharing what we know works can help not only our teaching practices, but our students' results.

If you are a principal looking for evidence based practices to better engage students, improve school culture, improve active teaching, use data to drive and improve instruction, integrate technology and increase student achievement for ALL students, this is the conference for you! 

Your colleagues at the Blue Ribbon Ribbon Schools of Excellence Conference may come with different experiences and expertise, but they share your challenges and goals. Join us for 3 or 4 days of collaboration, innovation and learning, and discover new ways to spark change in your schools and classrooms with evidence based practices.

Our host hotel, The Disney Yacht and Beach Club has sold out, but educators are booking at the Swan and Dolphin hotel next door.

Money for Magnets 

Sanford Programs is Money bag with dollar sign and money tree growing out of top isolated on white 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! Application deadline November 1, 2018.

Teaching Tolerance Educator Grants support educators who embrace and embed anti-bias principles throughout their schools.  These grants, ranging from $500-$10,000, support projects that promote affirming school climates and educate youth to thrive in a diverse democracy.  The grants fund projects on three levels: school, classroom  and  district. Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis.

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. 

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

Students are greeted in the doorways of every classroom. It doesn't take long to notice that there is a common theme that the students and staff unite around. Pre-schoolers to fifth graders follow the Franklin Covey "Leader in Me" program. Seven habits that reinforced through teaching, singing and more. 

What do you want to be when you grow up? That's the question students will hear often throughout their education. Deb Worm is someone who helps future female leaders answer that question. She's the volunteer coordinator for Iowa Women Lead Change, a leadership organization for women. And, earlier this year, she helped launch Leaders Who Lunch, a mentoring program that pairs young students with local business leaders for a conversation about goals, conflict management, teamwork and other topics over lunch.

High school students get hands on training at U of L

It looked and sounded just like a real dentist's office. However, the people in gowns on Tuesday were all seniors from Central High School getting hands-on experience inside the University of Louisville's School of Dentistry. More than 120 seniors were at the university's Health Sciences Campus to explore health-related careers and see what it takes to become a student at the university.

Obama Magnet School is the number one elementary school in the state when it comes to the Mississippi Department of Education accountability ratings. This is the second year the school has been at the top when it comes to the Mississippi Academic Assessment Program.

The different workshops, the first of which was held Monday at Cooke Magnet School, are geared toward parents based on the age of their children, Rios said. The Four-Year Plan workshop, for example, includes an activity where parents take on the role of a high school counselor and create a four-year plan for students based on their career interests, Rios said.

A federal judge will soon determine whether his court should get involved in how the state awards enrollment to students in high-performing magnet schools located throughout Connecticut. At issue is whether the lottery's algorithm - which is designed to limit enrollment of black and Hispanic students in a school to 75 percent - is discriminatory, and therefore a violation of the U.S. Constitution.

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


Stay Connected! 

Like us on Facebook  Follow us on Twitter  View our profile on LinkedIn  View on Instagram

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
Policy Training

February 6-8, 2019

Marriott Marquis
Washington, DC

Call for Presenters
Are you interested in sharing your expertise during the 37th 
National Conference in Baltimore, MD this April?

If so, please submit 

Magnet Schools of the Mid-South
December 5-8, 2018
Houston, Texas
Hosted by the 
Houston Independent School District (HISD) 

 Registration and 
lodging information is available at:

Blue Ribbon 
Magnet Schools
We would like to congratulate the 
that were designated as National Blue Ribbon Schools for 2018 by the U.S. Department of Education.

Follow Us



Like our Facebook 

page to receive news from the magnet community


Tweet with us 






Share your photos with 

us on Instagram





Network with us by 

visiting our company 

page on Linkedin