Magnet Schools of America Newsletter
May 2016
Riding the Wave of Change

Hands-on learning taking place at
MSA Miami 2016
Earlier this month, Magnet Schools of America (MSA) held its 34th National Conference in Miami, Florida. Over three days, approximately 1,500 magnet school leaders and educators from across the country gathered to share their best practices and recognize the nation's top magnet school programs. Conference attendees also learned about the exemplary magnet offerings of the host district Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS) during school tours, student exhibitions, and performances. 

Throughout the conference, MSA helped advance the field of magnet school education by providing training and support for magnet school administrators, principals, and teachers during general and breakout sessions that focused on magnet theme development, project and inquiry-based learning, technology integration, community outreach, coding, and much more.

The event culminated with an Extravaganza held in downtown Miami where this year's Magnet Schools of America Superintendent of the Year, Teacher of the Year, Principal of the Year, and other top awards were announced. In addition, MSA launched the first ever national magnet school certification program and revealed that the 35th National Conference will be held in Los Angeles in 2017! 

Reflecting on the conference, M-DCPS Superintendent Alberto Carvalho stated, "What is the most important takeaway from a magnet school conference in Miami? It's the lesson of change and flexibility. Change will happen: your student population will change, their wants and needs will change, the political landscape will change, and so will technology. And we as educators must be receptive to change and embrace it. We must be flexible, and resilient and creative in service to our students, their families, and our community."

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

Alberto Carvalho Named Magnet Schools
of America Superintendent of the Year

Alberto Carvahlo thanks MSA for naming him the 2016  Superintendent of the Year.
As a result of his leadership at the national, state and local levels in advocating, developing, and supporting magnet schools, Magnet Schools of America was pleased to name Alberto Carvalho from Miami-Dade County Public Schools the 2016 Magnet Schools of America Superintendent of the Year. This annual award was presented during the 34th National Conference and recognizes the important work of leadership within our school districts to keep magnet schools a top priority in the 
portfolio of school choice options.

Since the beginning of his tenure as Superintendent in 2008, M-DCPS has rapidly expanded the development of magnet programs by launching more than 109 new programs to meet the growing demand for magnet schools in the Miami area. In total, Miami-Dade County Public Schools has expanded the number of magnet school offerings to 375.

As superintendent, the district has received state and national recognition for unprecedented increases in student achievement and graduation rates. For example, the graduation rates of black and Hispanic students surpasses other districts in the State of Florida, and the proportion of A versus F rated schools is better than every comparable district in the state. In addition, the number of students receiving a 3 or better on AP examinations has increased by 84%.

This year, for the fifth time in a row, the district also received the most Magnet Schools of America national merit awards. In 2016, M-DCPS received 37 Schools of Excellence and Schools of Distinction Awards.

Hartford Public Schools Receives 
District Award for Magnet Sustainability

Representatives from Hartford Public Schools  celebrate their District Award for Magnet Sustainability. 
We are proud to announce that Hartford Public 
Schools is the recipient of the second Donna Grady-Creer District Award for Magnet Sustainability. This annual award acknowledges a school district that exemplifies a commitment to equity, excellence, diversity, as well as highly sustained support for magnet schools. It is sponsored by MSA board member and first president, Dr. Judith Stein. Donna Grady-Creer was one of the original founders of Magnet Schools of America. 

Hartford Public Schools currently has 20 magnet schools that feature theme-based programs such as Nursing and Health Sciences, Arts, Engineering and Technology, Government and Law, and many others. In 2016, 11 of the district's magnet schools were recognized as either Schools of Excellence or Distinction.

Last year, Breakthrough Magnet received the Dr. Ronald P. Simpson Merit Award, which is considered the most prestigious merit award by MSA. In 2014, Pathways Academy of Technology and Design was honored with the American Education Solutions, Inc. Secondary Magnet School of Merit Award.

Hartford Public Schools is a recognized national leader in socioeconomic and racial integration. Its magnet schools are an important component to achieving these goals and closing the achievement gap. According to data reported by the Connecticut Department of Education, nearly half of the students in the Hartford region attend integrated schools. In 2007 only 11% of Hartford students were in schools considered integrated.

Magnet School Principal of the Year

2016 Magnet School Principal of the Year Martin Reid (second from right) with the Miami-Dade County Public Schools Board and Superintendent Carvalho.

Magnet Schools of America is pleased to announce that Martin T. Reid,
Principal of Arthur and Polly Mays Conservatory of the Arts in Miami, Florida is the 2016 National Magnet School Principal of the Year. Through a competitive application process, Mr. Reid was selected from a group of seven Regional Principals of the Year located across the country. 

Upon receiving the award, Principal Reid said, "I am truly humbled and honored to receive the MSA National Principal of the Year award, however this is truly a team award. Had it not been for the support from the school board, district office, and most importantly teachers, parents, and students, I would not have been considered for this prestigious award. I feel that I have the best job in the world because on a daily basis, I get a chance to make a difference in the lives of my students by ensuring they receive a high quality education that prepares them for their future endeavors."

Miami-Dade County's Arthur and Polly Mays Conservatory of the Arts has become an award winning Visual, Performing, and Communicative Arts Conservatory under the leadership of Principal Reid. As principal, Mr. Reid has created not just a school, but a home for students and faculty alike. By regularly acknowledging student accomplishments, encouraging social activities among his staff, and employing a Growth Mindset Philosophy of teaching and the gradual release method, he ensures that his teachers empower students by emphasizing their innate abilities and recognizing that success is a product of hard work.

Mr. Reid's involvement in all aspects of his school, his visibility to students, and the professional development and support he provides his faculty and staff, have contributed to the transformation of a D-graded middle school into a 6-12 grade conservatory which graduated its first class in 2015 with above-average graduation rates.

Cinematic Arts Instructor Named
Magnet School Teacher of the Year

Matthew Waynee carved out a successful career in Hollywood before joining his magnet school. 
Magnet Schools of America is excited to announce that Matthew Waynee from LAUSD/USC Cinematic Arts and Engineering Magnet in Los Angeles California is the 2016 National Magnet School Teacher of the Year. Through a competitive application process, Mr. Waynee was selected from a group of six Regional Teachers of the Year.

A Hollywood screenwriter, University of Notre Dame and USC Alumni, TFA alumni, and college professor, Matthew Waynee brings a wealth of experience to his classroom and home at LAUSD/USC Cinematic Arts & Engineering Magnet (CAE). Mr. Waynee began teaching full time at CAE three years ago. At CAE he has lead the development of a rich cinematic arts focused curriculum by expanding course offerings from one film class to courses in Acting, Creative Writing, Digital Photography, Media Studies, Film History, Broadcast Journalism, Filmmaking 1 & 2, Cartoon and Animation, and more.

After receiving the award, Mr. Waynee said, "It is an amazing honor winning the prestigious National Magnet Teacher of the Year Award from Magnet Schools of America. Our high school transitioned to a Cinematic Arts themed magnet just three years ago, and it has been exhilarating to see how quickly my students have embraced the challenges of immersing themselves in every aspect of filmmaking and learning how to use professional film equipment."

Waynee has also created strong partnerships with the LA Times and the prestigious Ghetto Film School providing project-based learning opportunities for students. His emphasis on community, collaboration, partnering to provide top-notch training to students, and his passion for empowering students of all backgrounds to succeed in the film industry, exemplify the Magnet School Pillars set out by MSA and the National Teacher of the Year Award. 

First Magnet Alumni Hall of Fame Inductee

Robert Battle graduated from the New Word School of the Arts and is the first inductee into the Magnet Alumni Hall of Fame.
During an Extravaganza held on the last night of the national conference in the Olympia Theatre, MSA announced its first Magnet Alumni Hall of Fame inductee Robert Battle, Artistic Director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. 

Mr. Battle comes from humble beginnings and was raised in Liberty City outside of downtown Miami. When he was in high school he had the opportunity to pursue dance at the New World School of the Arts, a magnet school dedicated to the performing arts. After graduation, he received a full scholarship to attend Julliard and went on to create his own dance company. 

Through his creative work he was recognized as one of the Masters of African American Choreography by the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts. In 2011, he was named the third director of the renowned Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. 

Mr. Battle was honored to receive this special recognition and shared these thoughts about his magnet school experience.

As a baby I was born completely bow legged. My start in life didn't necessarily scream DANCER!

My birth mother was in a position where she couldn't raise me alone and needed help. I was taken in by my great aunt and uncle and we moved from Jacksonville to Miami, specifically Liberty City, with their daughter Dessie Williams. An English teacher, but a pianist and actress also, Dessie whet my appetite for the arts and dance.

But it was PAVAC at Northwestern that got me started and New World School of the Arts that gave me my greatest leap forward. I would not have been able to afford to study dance on my own. Magnet schools are the reason I am where I am today, Artistic Director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

I'm reminded of a spiritual with these lines: When it look like the sun wasn't gonna shine anymore, God put a rainbow in the cloud.

Magnet programs have been that rainbow for me and for so many others. Thank you for this honor. 

Ushering in a New Era

During the 34th national conference,
Magnet Schools of America launched the first national certification program for magnet schools. The MSA Standards of Excellence Certification Program is designed to recognize the nation's most exemplary magnet schools and help them as they continue to grow.

"We are thrilled to launch a national certification process that will validate the outstanding magnet programs across the country and inspire others to achieve similar levels of excellence," said MSA Executive Director Todd Mann. "Community members, parents and students can now be confident that each nationally certified magnet school, no matter where it is located, is held to the same high standard."

The MSA certification process is based on the National Magnet School Standards of Excellence and the five pillars of magnet schools. These standards define the essential elements and characteristics of high-quality magnet programs.

On May 10, MSA accepted its first cohort of magnet schools vying to become nationally certified. In just over an hour, more than 100 schools submitted their applications to be a part of this pioneering group. These schools will go through the certification process during the 2016-2017 school year and will be recognized during the 35th National Conference in Los Angeles. 

A new cohort of schools will be accepted again next year. To learn more, please visit the Standards of Excellence Certification webpage

Mobilizing Support for Magnet Schools

During the summer, Congress will begin to draft legislation to fund federal education programs for the next fiscal year that begins on October 1. Earlier this year, President Obama submitted a budget proposal for the U.S. Department of Education that includes a $18 million increase for the Magnet Schools Assistance Program for a total of $115 million. This added support will allow several additional school districts to participate in an anticipated off-cycle grant competition next year. The administration's budget sends a clear signal to Congress that it supports the mission of our nation's magnet schools. 

Now it is up to you to weigh-in and let your elected officials know that magnet school funding should be a top priority for Congress next year! Please take a couple minutes to visit our Grassroots Action Center and send a pre-drafted letter to Congress now. Your voice is extremely important during this process! 

MSA Develops Collaborative to Promote 
Social Emotional Learning

Magnet Schools of America is collaborating with National University to expand a nationwide initiative to introduce schools to Sanford Harmony, an innovative social emotional learning program that helps reinforce positive peer interactions among children. Already being rolled out to thousands of classrooms through National University's leadership, the PreK-6 program provides easy-to-use lesson plans and resources at no cost to schools that encourage communication, collaboration, and celebrating differences among students.

Magnet Schools of America will collaborate with 75 schools to introduce Sanford Harmony during the first year of the collaboration, targeting several districts and states across the country. If your school or district is interested in participating and would like to receive free Sanford Harmony curriculum, learning materials, and training, please email Kelly Bucherie, Director of Magnet School Leadership at

Principal Opening at Award Winning
Magnet School in Sunny Florida

Pinellas County Schools in Florida is seeking a new principal for one of its award winning magnet schools. Located in the beautiful Tampa Bay area, the Douglas L. Jamerson, Jr. Elementary Center for Mathematics and Engineering has been named a MSA Magnet School of Excellence or School of Distinction the last ten consecutive years. The new principal will be responsible for the total operational management of the school. To see the full position description and application visit our job openings webpage

Support for Students and Educators 

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

The Dominion K-12 Educational Partnership program awards grants of up to $2,500 to encourage the development of new programs aimed at strengthening math and science education through the study of energy and/or the environment. In 2016, the foundation will award approximately $1 million in educational partnership grants in its service areas in Connecticut, Maryland, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, and West Virginia.

To be eligible, applicants must be a public or private elementary or secondary school. Application deadline May 31, 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 

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 2017-18 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 packets will be accepted starting July 1. To be accepted, application packets must be postmarked no later than September 30, 2016

Magnets Making News 

A once dying school with a small magnet program, Arthur & Polly Mays Conservatory of the Arts School now has a waiting list to get in. The driving force behind this Cinderella story is the school's devoted and visionary leader.

Three Rivers Middle College Principal Brad Columbus traveled to the White House May 3, along with National Teacher of the Year Jahana Hayes from Waterbury, to mark National Teachers' Day with President Barack Obama. 

Douglas Elementary students will gather Friday morning at their school near North Hills to paint and cheer their accomplishments. Douglas was recently named the top magnet school in the nation from Magnet Schools of America. Wiley was named the top magnet elementary school.

The city school system on Friday received a national district of the year award from Magnet Schools of America, a Washington, DC - based group that represents magnet schools in the U.S. Hartford educators were presented with the Donna Grady-Creer District Award for Magnet Sustainability.

"It's amazing. I've been teaching a long time and it is an honor. I tell my students that I could not have won it without them because I get to brag about them and all the amazing projects they are doing," Waynee said.

The Institute for Health Sciences offers highly-achieving honors or college prep students a dynamic, rigorous curriculum. Magnet seminar courses, based on the nationally recognized Project Lead The Way (PLTW) Biomedical Sciences program,uses real world and hands-on learning experiences. 

Walking around Progress Village gives you a warm, welcoming feeling, as staff and students collaborate on projects and openly discuss exciting new ideas. It would seem that the school has tapped into the secret of what brings creative thinking to the forefront of the educational experience.


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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.

Join us at our annual Fall 
Technical Assistance Training Conference October 9 - 10, 2016 in Washington DC 
at the Capital Hilton. 
Sessions will be geared toward building and sustaining successful 
magnet school programs. 

More details to follow!
During the 34th National Conference attendees shared  their experiences via 
social media.




See everyone 
again next year in 
Los Angeles! 

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