Magnet Schools of America Newsletter
March 2016
MSA Miami 2016 - Riding the Wave!

It is hard to believe that the 34th National Conference on Magnet Schools is right around the corner. In just five short weeks, Magnet Schools of America will head to the beautiful and vibrant city of Miami, Florida. Join us on this journey to learn about the best practices in magnet schools, exchange ideas, and take part in the celebration of magnet schools. The conference will be held at the Intercontinental Hotel May 3-7, 2016It is not too late to register and take advantage of the regular rate, which ends on April 11.  

During the conference, numerous professional development sessions will be held that are based on the five pillars of magnet schools. They will cater to all magnet school professionals and grade levels. They will help take your theme-based magnet programs to the next level. We promise, MSA Miami 2016 will be an unforgettable experience that you won't want to miss!  

Below are a few examples of the exciting sessions you can plan to attend.
  • Coding in the Classroom - There are many ways that coding and programming can be integrated into your units of study. Attend this session and leave with examples that can be taken back and used in your classrooms right away.
  • An Innovative Approach to Develop Entrepreneurs - Shark Tank -Dreams become reality in this new Innovative Entrepreneurship Curriculum which involves student teams creating their own 'real' business plans and requesting future funding in the 'Shark Tank' Model. 
  • Finding Your Voice-Telling Your Story - Being able to share a school's success story is paramount to not only the recruitment of new students, but also in keeping existing families and students engaged. Learn how you can develop branding and marketing that will help your magnet school shine. 
MSA Miami 2016 - Magnet School Tours

The Law Enforcement Officers Memorial High School is dedicated to students interested in Law Enforcement and Forensic Science
In addition to conference sessions, attendees will visit some of Miami-Dade County Public Schools' most popular magnet programs. See up close what makes these schools stand out among the rest. 

Under the leadership of Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, who is a former magnet school principal, the school district has used the magnet school model to achieve greatness. It has received the prestigious Broad Prize for urban education and more Magnet Schools of America National Merit Awards than any other school district in the country. 

Here is a sneak peek of the 25 magnet schools that will be on full display during the national conference.
  • The Medical Academy for Science & Technology @ Homestead is a medical research high school that integrates four medical magnet strands into core and elective studies, as well as into extracurricular activities.
  • Coral Reef Senior High is uniquely composed of six Magnet strands and is heralded as Miami's Mega Magnet. It is the only public high school in Florida to be recognized as a 2015 National Blue Ribbon School in the Exemplary High Performing Schools category.
  • BioTECH @ Richmond Heights High School provides a math and science curriculum focused on Conservation Biology. Research experiences are offered to students in collaboration with both Zoo Miami and Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. 
  • Maritime & Science Technology Senior High School (MAST) has received national accolades and offers a magnet program that focuses on maritime studies in collaboration with the University of Miami and the Miami Seaquarium. 
  • New World School of the Arts (NWSA) is a Florida Center of Excellence in Visual & Performing Arts with divisions in dance, music, theatre, and visual arts.
To sign-up and participate in magnet school tours you must be registered for the national conference. To see a full description of all the tours that will take place, please visit

Meet Your Regional Director Candidates 

During the national conference in Miami, members of Magnet Schools of America (MSA) will elect their regional directors. This year, elections will be held for MSA's even numbered regions. The Regional Director serves on the board of directors as the regional contact for all members of Magnet Schools of America within their geographic area. Throughout their two-year term they are expected to serve in a leadership capacity and perform a range of organizational duties such as participating in board meetings, organizing events, and creating project work groups. Below are statements from each of the candidates who will be running for regional director positions this year.

Region 2 - (DE, MD, OH, PA, VA, WV, DC, Int'l)

Bryan Stoll, Supervisor/Coordinator, 
Office of Magnet Programs, Baltimore County Public Schools, MD

As the current Region 2 Director, I've served on several project work groups including one that is focused on improving Membership benefits. I have also begun work to expand member participation within Region 2 through strategic outreach. It is my sincere hope to continue this work to grow MSA.

Region 4 - (NC, SC, KY, and TN)

Dr. Kim Morrison - Chief Academic and Innovation Officer, Mount Airy City Schools, NC

It has been my privilege to serve the magnet students, staff and schools of Region IV. We are planning a regional conference along with other magnet activities and I have been active on project work groups such as standards, research, and awards. I hope to represent this great region again.

Region 6 -  (IL, IN, MI, MN, IA, and WI)  

Jeffrey Peterson - Principal, Summit View Elementary Magnet School of Integrated Arts, Design, and Creativity,
Waukesha, WI

Enthusiasm for the organization, Energy for transformation and Excitement for student success are attributes I would bring as a director. I have led magnet school development from research to visioning to implementation in Waukesha, WI. Students deserve schools that develop thinking skills, promote multiple perspectives and develop cross racial/class friendships. 

Region 8 - (AK, AZ, CA, HI, ID, NV, OR, WA, American Samoa, Marianas
Islands, and Trust Territory of the Pacific)

Dr. Ginger Cole, Educational Consultant, American Education Solutions, Inc., Los Angeles, CA

As the incumbent Region VIII Director, I would like to continue, and see through implementation, the work that has been started during this biennium: the establishment of State Coordinators, the roll-out of the 35th National Conference on Magnet Schools, and the Magnet School Certification Process.

Gia Mari Moore, Director, Magnet Schools and Career and Technical Academies, Clark County School District, NV

Consistent communication and collaboration are key elements of a successful organization. If elected, my priority will be to increase opportunities to engage in meaningful dialog, share best practices and ideas, and create a forum to assist each other in problem solving. 

Robert Soza-Villanueva, Magnet Coordinator, Carrillo K5 Magnet School, Tucson, AZ

I possess an incredible passion for making a difference in the magnet community. My commitment is to guarantee that communication within my region is done efficiently and effectively. With my skill set and proven record, I can be a valuable addition as a Regional Director to MSA.

Jack Kent Cooke - Young Scholars Program 

Magnet Schools of America is proud to partner with the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation to help close the excellence gap. The Foundation offers the largest scholarships in the country to bright students with financial need.

Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Young Scholars Program

Scholarship for Talented 7th Graders - Application Deadline: April 14, 2016

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation is now accepting applications for the 
Young Scholars Program, the most selective and generous pre-college scholarship opportunity for high-achieving students with financial need.

Young Scholars receive
  • personalized academic and college counseling
  • funding for summer and extracurricular academic programs
  • access to internships and study abroad opportunities and
  • other educational resources including books and technology
Cooke Scholars come from every state with no restriction on background, race, ethnicity, religion, gender, political affiliation or citizenship status. Cooke Young Scholars are also on a pathway to receive the foundation's $40,000 per year College Scholarship.

Click here to learn more and recommend a student for the scholarship today. The deadline for applications is April 14, 2016.

National Merit Awards Announced

Golden award star isolated on the white background This month Magnet Schools of a America announced the 2016 National Merit Award recipients. These 258 magnet schools and programs located in 19 states are recognized for their commitment to high academic standards, school diversity, specialized curricula and instruction, family engagement, and community partnerships. 
This year, 371 schools applied for national merit awards, making 2016 the most competitive year in the merit award program's history.

The announcement of our national merit awards is an extraordinary time for the magnet school community. Our awards program is a way for our association to recognize the most accomplished magnet schools in the country. These schools are making a lasting, positive impact on the lives of children. They are preparing them for the challenges of the future by providing them with unique learning experiences that give them the critical skills needed to be workforce and college ready.

The highest ranked merit awardees are eligible to receive monetary awards and the chance to be named the nation's top Elementary, Secondary, or New & Emerging Magnet School. One school will also be selected to win the most prestigious magnet award, the Dr. Ronald P. Simpson Distinguished Merit Award and $5,000. These top awards will be announced during an awards ceremony held at the 34th National Conference on Magnet Schools in Miami, Florida.

To see a full list of this year's national merit awardees, please click here

Regional Principals of the Year

MSA is pleased to announce the recipients of its Regional Principal of-the-Year Awards for 2016. Through a competitive application process,
these individuals are annually selected from MSA's eight regions. They will be recognized during Magnet Schools of America's 34th National Conference in Miami, Florida May 3-7, 2016. They are all eligible to be selected as the National Magnet School Principal of-the-Year on the last day of the conference.

These school leaders are recognized for setting 
high expectations within their schools and communities. They have demonstrated a strong commitment to theme-based education and maximizing learning opportunities for all students. We are proud to honor them for reflecting the highest values, beliefs, and attitudes of our association. 

Region I - Dr. Nicholas J. Spera, Marine Science Magnet High School
LEARN, Connecticut

Region II - Karen Barnes, Southwest Academy, Baltimore County Public Schools, Maryland

Region III - Martin T. Reid, Arthur & Polly Mays Conservatory of the Arts,
Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Florida

Region IV - Shane Barham, Wendell Creative Arts and Science Magnet Elementary School, Wake County Public School System, North Carolina

Region V - Nanette McCann, Baton Rouge Magnet High School,
East Baton Rouge Parish Schools, Louisiana

Region VII - Lura Jo Atherly, Jardine STEM & Career Exploration Middle Magnet Academy, Unified School District No. 259, Kansas

Region VIII - Anne Grisham, Sandy Miller Elementary School, Clark County School District, Nevada

Regional Teachers of the Year

We are proud to announce the 2016 Regional Teachers of-the-Year. These awards recognize outstanding magnet school teachers who exemplify instructional excellence in the classroom. The recipients will be honored during Magnet Schools of America's 34th National Conference in Miami, Florida. They are all eligible to be chosen as the National Magnet School Teacher of-the-Year. 

We are proud to acknowledge these magnet educators for their dedication and tremendous skill in the classroom. These teachers are 
commended for their ability to connect with students and inspire them to embrace learning and excel in their studies. They are also recognized for their demonstrated leadership within their schools and communities.

Region I - Suzanne Dionne, Rotella Interdistrict Magnet School, Waterbury Public Schools, Connecticut

Region II - Margaret S. Peeling, Halstead Academy, Baltimore County Public Schools, Maryland

Region III - Vivian Gonzalez, South Miami K-8 Center, Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Florida

Region IV - Ronny Reddig, Piedmont Middle School, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, North Carolina

Region V - Mary Legoria, Science Specialist, Westdale Heights Academic Magnet, East Baton Rouge Parish Schools, Louisiana

Region VIII - Matthew Waynee, LAUSD/USC Cinematic Arts and Engineering Magnet, Los Angeles Unified School District, California

Profile of School Leadership

Lura Jo Atherly is surprised by her students after being selected the Magnet Schools of America Region VII Principal of the Year.

Lura Jo Atherly, principal at Jardine STEM and Career Exploration Magnet Middle School, in Wichita, KS has been named Region VII Principal of the Year by Magnet Schools of America. The award recognizes magnet school principals in eight regions across the country who have demonstrated a strong commitment to learning opportunities through themed-based education, while setting high expectations for students and staff. She is in the running for the National Magnet School Principal of the Year. 

"I'm honored. But it's not about me. It's about my teachers and my team
doing such great work to make Jardine the amazing school that it is," Atherly said. "It's a privilege not only to work here at Jardine, but to be a part of the Wichita Public Schools."

She was acknowledged with the award for helping to develop creative and innovative curriculum, demonstrating strong leadership, nurturing a strong relationship between parents and staff, and developing partnerships between the school and the community. 

One example of a recently developed community partnership is the Wichita Independent Business Association Jardine Sponsorship Program, which provides mentors, mini-internships and industry expert presentations to teach Jardine students about different career options.

The bees have arrived!

Fifty thousand bees now call Dutch Fork Elementary home.
Dutch Fork Elementary School, Academy of Environmental Sciences has about 50,000 new residents...BEES! It received a grant from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control and Champions of the Environment to build and maintain an observation Bee Hive. William Gillaspy of, designed, built, and installed the observation hive. The purpose of having this hive in the school is for students to get the chance to see how bees work as a system and how honeycombs are formed and honey is made. 

The observation hive is completely enclosed and the bees have a way of coming in and out of the hive to pollinate through a tubing at the top that goes directly outside of the building. Mr. Gillaspy also marked the queen bee with a white paint pen so she will be easier for students to spot. Already, the school's youngest students have been in to inquire and wonder about the bees. The excitement in the building from this new edition has already been "buzzing"!

Support for Students and Educators 

Money bag with dollar sign and money tree growing out of top isolated on whiteThe University of Tennessee College of Architecture and Design offers a summer camp for high school students from across the country. It's all about design - design of the built environment, design thinking, design interpretation and careers in design. Students live on campus for a week and are engaged with both instruction and campus activities.

Scholarships are available (deadline May 2), and registration is very limited.  Register today. For reduced tuition, register before April 15.

Established by children's book author and illustrator Ezra Jack Keats, this program will award grants of up to $500 to educators to create special activities outside the standard curriculum. Projects funded in the past include murals, pen pal groups, quilts, theater productions, newspapers and other publications. Public schools and public libraries are eligible to apply. 

Application Deadline March 31, 2016

In-Service Training Grants for Pre-K-5 Math Teachers

Grants of up to $4,000 will be awarded to elementary schools to support the professional development of teachers in mathematics. Costs may include honoraria and expenses for consultants, materials, substitute teacher time, and conference or workshop registrations. While the program does not fund the purchase of technology, proposals including professional development in the use of technology to enhance student learning are encouraged. 

Application Deadline: May 6, 2016

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 program provides support to public school teachers, public education support professionals, and/or faculty and staff in public institutions of higher education through grants to individuals to fund participation in high-quality professional development experiences such as summer institutes or action research; or to groups for collegial study (including study groups, action research, lesson study, or mentoring experiences for new faculty or staff).

The grant amount is $2,000 for individuals and $5,000 for groups engaged in collegial study. 

Application Deadline June 1, 2016 

Magnets Making News 

For Shane Barham, principal of Wendell Creative Arts and Science Magnet Elementary School, everything he does on the job is intended to advance the school's magnet theme. Barham said he not only makes sure students are getting "experience learning" at the school, but he also reaches out to market the magnet theme to the community.

Rotella Magnet School second-grader Zachary Orsatti beamed when he learned his painting of a snowman earned him the "artist of the week" title from online art gallery Artsonia. For art teacher Suzanne Dionne, moments like that are exactly why she goes the extra mile to display student artwork at every possible chance.

As part of a community service project, eighth grade students at the Belfair Montessori Magnet School organized a succesful effort to collect 25,000 bottles of water for the children of Flint, Michigan.

Every performer dreams of his or her first big break. For 15-year-old Springfield Conservatory of the Arts student Kyarah Thomas-Archie that break came when she overcame her shyness and belted out an Etta James standard during a monthly coffee house that her magnet school holds to showcase student talent.

For the school district, adding a new performing arts high school was a simple matter of adding supply to meet ever-increasing demand. As one of the district's "shining stars," LVA received more than 2,000 applications last year - "and we only have about 400 available seats," said Gia Moore, the school district's director of magnet schools. "What about the rest of the students?"

To learn why a lot of people say the DeKalb School of the Arts is successful, it might help to listen to the school's instrumentalists, actors, dancers and singers. This school sounds like a place where high-achieving students are the norm, but that success isn't just artistic. Principal Susan McCauley says the school's graduation rate is almost perfect.

The engines were more than revving at the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Leader's Summit in February at Larsen Motorsports in Palm Bay. Chris and Elaine Larsen explained how their love of racing combined with mechanics, design, engineering and marketing alongside their university partner, the Florida Institute of Technology kept them motivated.


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

MSA Standards
of Excellence Certification Program

Do you want to be one of the FIRST schools in the nation to be certified?

Magnet Schools Change Lives! We all know magnet schools are a cut above the rest with a focus on excellence, diversity and innovation for students. 

To that end, we will launch the first national magnet school certification process in MSA Miami 2016 and you don't want to miss this opportunity - we will take the first 100 schools who submit a full application. We want you to be on 
that list! 

Be recognized as one of the best magnet schools in the nation through the Standards of Excellence Certification Program.

 Attend one of these unique membership only webinars to gain insight and see if your school is ready for certification.

March 30, 2016
1 pm Eastern

April 6, 2016
1 pm Eastern

April 20, 2016
1 pm Eastern

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