Magnet Schools of America Newsletter

July 2016
Meet the Members of the Board 

Magnet Schools of America is pleased to announce the beginning of a new term for our executive officers and members of the board of directors.   
President - Sara Wheeler has over 40 years of experience in the field of education and is employed by District Five of Lexington & Richland Counties in Columbia, South Carolina. Ms. Wheeler has held a variety of positions throughout her career; classroom teacher, magnet school teacher, magnet school administrator, Smaller Learning Communities Site Coordinator and Project Director for three MSAP funded grants.

As a member of the board of directors, Sara has previously served as a Director At Large, Regional Director/Regional Chairperson, President-Elect, and now President.
President Elect & Secretary - Susan King has worked as an educator for over 35 years. She recently served as Magnet Supervisor for Hillsborough County Public Schools in Tampa, FL where she evaluated magnet schools and programs in the district and at the national level. She was also the project manager for two MSAP federal grants.
She is currently an educational consultant and presents and trains locally and nationally on a variety of topics including theme integration, instructional technology, curriculum development, and cultural competence.

Immediate Past President - Doreen Marvin is the former Director of Development at LEARN in Old Lyme, Connecticut. She has extensive experience working with communities locally, statewide, and nationally. Ms. Marvin is also trained in strategic planning, creative planning, and systems approaches to organizational development. 

Treasurer - William Magnotta is the former Director of the Goodwin College, Magnet School Choice Institute for Excellence, and former Magnet Schools Program Manager with the Connecticut State Department of Education where he served for over 39 years.

- Dr. Robert Strickland is Administrative Director of School Choice and Parental Options for Miami-Dade County Public Schools in Miami, Florida. He is the Director of over 375 magnet programs and is responsible for directing staff assigned to develop, implement, and monitor the Magnet Schools Assistance Program (MSAP) grant.

Past Presidents  - Voting Members

  • Dr. Robert Brooks - President (1998-2000)
  • Dr. Michelle Frazier - President (2012-2014)
  • Caroline Massengill - President (2006-2008)

Regional Directors -

  • Region 1 - Art Arpin, Educational Consultant, East Hartford, Connecticut 
  • Region 2 - Bryan Stoll, Supervisor of Magnet Programs, Baltimore County Public Schools, Maryland

  • Region 3 - Cari Kupec, Project Director Magnet Schools, Brevard Public Schools, Florida

  • Region 4  - Dr. Kim Morrison, Superintendent, Mount Airy City Schools, North Carolina

  • Region 5  - Theresa Porter, Director of Magnet Programs, East Baton Rouge Parish School System, Louisiana

  • Region 6 - Jeff Peterson, Principal, Summit View Elementary Magnet School of Integrated Arts, Design, and Creativity, Wisconsin

  • Region 7 - Dr. Kim Johnson Burkhalter, Equity/Diversity and Magnet Programs Director, Wichita Public Schools, Kansas

  • Region 8 - Gia Moore, Director, Magnet Schools and Career and Technical Academies, Clark County School District, Nevada

Specialized Directors -
  • New board members take the MSA oath of office during the 34th National Conference in Miami, Florida.
    Jennifer Ayscue, Research Associate, The Civil Rights Project, UCLA

  • Lucilla Davila, EdLd, Associate Superintendent of Magnet Schools, Minneapolis Public Schools 
  • Dr. Donna Elam, President/CEO, Elam Leadership Institute

  • Dr. Gladys Pack, Educational Consultant, SOPHRON Inc.

  • Enid Rey, Esq., Executive Director, School Choice Office, Hartford Public Schools

  • Maree Sneed, Partner, Hogan Lovells
House Appropriators Target Federal

Magnet School Funding for Elimination 
Chairman Tom Cole (R-OK) and members of the House Labor, HHS, Education Appropriations Subcommittee introduce legislation to eliminate funding for magnet schools and other education programs. 

For the second year in a row, the U.S. House of Representatives has slated the Magnet Schools Assistance Program (MSAP) for elimination in FY 2017. In contrast, the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee has funded MSAP at the current level of $96 million. Neither chamber of Congress funded the program at the president's requested level of $115 million. 

This action comes on the heels of a recent report by the Congressional General Accountability Office (GAO) that concluded that there has been a large increase in school segregation in America by race and class since 2001.

During a contentious debate of the bill in the House Appropriations Committee, U.S. Representative Barbara Lee from Oakland, CA expressed her opposition to the elimination of the program. Ranking Member Rosa DeLauro from New Haven, CT also called the cuts "deplorable" and introduced an amendment to restore funding to the program, along with 19 other education programs. Unfortunately, the amendment was defeated by a party-line vote. 

Subcommittee Chairman Tom Cole said that the programs that were cut in his bill are either too small to make a meaningful impact on student achievement or are ineffective. Nevertheless, he chose to fund charter schools. 

In response to this alarming action, we ask that you contact your elected officials and let them know that your magnet programs are making a real difference in your community and in the lives of students. Please take a couple minutes to visit our Grassroots Action Center and submit a message now.

Final funding decisions will be made by Congress later this fall. Please make sure your voice is heard!  

Fall Technical Assistance Conference
Designing for Sustainability 
Washington, District of Columbia

October 9-10, 2016

Join us for our annual fall technical assistance and training conference in Washington, DC at The Capital Hilton to learn how to create, sustain and improve magnet schools. Sessions will also focus on ensuring innovative magnet school plans, strategic planning, and rigorous quality theme-based curriculum.

This is a great opportunity for schools and districts (MSAP grantees, non-grantees, future grantees) to brainstorm and network with colleagues in the magnet community.

The conference will feature four distinct tracks:

MAGNET ENTREPRENEURSHIP: Aspiring models of innovative school plans and approaches to teaching and learning.

STRATEGIC OPPORTUNITIES: Flexibility and creative funding sources towards creating/sustaining a healthy, and rigorous magnet program/school.

STRENGTHEN THE LEARNER EXPERIENCE: Developing quality theme-based curriculum to support your theme that ensures rigor, deep engagement and return on investment.

CERTIFICATION - STANDARDS OF EXCELLENCE: Deeper examination of the standards; strategic planning for current and future certification candidates.

Visit the fall conference webpage to register, review the agenda, and make your hotel reservations. 
Professional Development: New, Emerging, and Revitalized Magnet Schools

In support of our mission to provide high-quality professional development opportunities for our members, the National Institute for Magnet School Leadership (NIMSL) will offer the following onsite workshops that can be tailored to your school or district needs. The workshops will be offered throughout the coming school year. Let our team of qualified experts help you! 
NIMSL P101: Pillars Workshop 

Participants are introduced, and intensively engaged in each of the Pillars of Magnet Schools by reflecting on their instructional practice, beliefs, and models. This workshop is designed to engage site-based leadership to ensure their magnet schools recognize the critical elements and reflect a truly rigorous, diverse, and engaging environment in which students demonstrate achievement gains.

NIMSL P201: Leadership in Magnet Schools

This workshop will provide participants an opportunity to examine exemplar practices in model magnet schools throughout the country. Focusing on the Pillar, High Quality Instructional Systems, teacher leaders, school administrators, and magnet support personnel will be introduced to several tools for planning next steps to strategically implement the Standards of Excellence to guide school sites toward model magnet schools and programs.

NIMSL P301: Advanced Coaching for Theme-Based Education

This workshop provides an opportunity for teachers and administrators to engage in an in-depth review of the Standards of Excellence - Innovative Curriculum and Professional Development, and Academic Excellence.

Making a shift in their practice, teachers and administrators will think through their barriers to support theme-based education in an authentic innovative landscape. Participants will explore and form commitments to excellent and adequate support models for their magnet school and/or program.

NIMSL P302: Sustaining Your Magnet After MSAP

This workshop provides an opportunity for teachers and administrators to engage in strategic data collection tracking protocol of key and critical elements to ensure a viable sustainable magnet school and/or program after MSAP funding. Additionally, participants will analyze successful models identified for their sustainability over time.

Please contact for more information.

Grants to Apply for this Summer 

High School Teacher Sitting Outdoors With Students On Campus

Honda America Foundation Grants
 support youth education in the areas of science, technology, engineering, mathematics, the environment, job training, and literacy. Nonprofit charitable organizations, public school districts, private/public elementary and secondary schools are eligible. Awards range from $20,000 - $75,000. The deadline to apply is August 1, 2016.

Target Field Trip Grants

Through its Field Trip Grants program, Target awards grants of up to $700 to K-12 schools nationwide to defray the cost of field trips. It is accepting grant applications between August 1- September 30, 2016.

Captain Planet Foundation Grants fund projects that provide hands-on environmental stewardship opportunities for youth and environment-based education programs. The foundation primarily makes grants to schools and organizations with an annual operating budget of less than $3 million. The maximum award is $2,500. The deadline to apply is September 30, 2016.

Kids in Need Foundation Teacher Grants provide educators with funding to purchase materials to conduct innovative classroom projects. Grant supporters include Jo-Ann Fabrics and Craft Stores, Elmer's, and Dollar General. The maximum award is $500. The deadline to apply is September 30, 2016.

Toshiba America Foundation Grants fund the projects, ideas, and materials teachers need to innovate in their math and science classrooms. Grade K-5 applications are accepted once a year on October 1. Grade 6-12 applications for $5,000 or less are accepted on a rolling basis, throughout the year. Grant requests of more than $5,000 are due February 1 and August 1.


If you like the grants that you see here, you can find more funding opportunities on our website at:

Supporting a Well Rounded Education

In an effort to help school districts provide students with a well rounded education that includes the humanities and arts, the U.S. Department of Education sent a letter to state and local education leaders outlining creative ways they may enhance holistic education programs by utilizing in conjunction various federal resources.

The department defines humanities in the letter as history, civics, government, economics, geography, literature, art, music and other non-STEM subjects not usually found in the English/language arts curriculum.

The Dear Colleague Letter suggests ways that Title I funds may be used to purchase humanities learning materials, devices such as tablets and laptops, and digital learning resources. It also describes how these funds may be used to support field trips that expose students to the humanities. 

The guidance goes into detail how Title II dollars may be used for professional development activities that support instruction and course development. Additionally, it explains how funds may be used to provide incentives to recruit effective school leaders and educators in these subject areas. 

Furthermore, it encourages grantees to utilize Carl Perkins funding to create humanities focused career and technical education programs and experiential learning opportunities, such as internships and mentorships for students.

Be sure to review the new guidance. It also includes ideas for supporting after-school programs, students with learning disabilities, and English learners.

Full-time Musical Theatre Teacher/Faculty Position - Chattanooga, TN

Chattanooga High School Center for Creative Arts is an award-winning, fine arts magnet school located in Chattanooga, TN. This is a full-time teaching position with benefits and summers off. The desired candidate will possess or be willing to obtain the necessary Tennessee teaching license. 

Responsibilities include: teaching six musical theatre classes to beginners and experienced students in grades 6-12, planning and directing numerous student performances, working with fellow arts faculty members to produce collaborative performances, attending professional development and extracurricular school activities, and typical teaching responsibilities such as planning assignments and grading.

Apply online and contact Amy Medley with questions at 

Magnets Making News 

Perhaps no U.S. education secretary has had more personal experience with the power America's public-school system has to lift up students who have the odds stacked against them than John King. At least when it works as intended.

Fifty years ago-on July 2, 1966 - the federal government published "Equality of Educational Opportunity, "a landmark study by the Johns Hopkins University sociologist James Coleman that gave support for a novel idea about education: that schools should integrate based on the socioeconomic status of students.

With two-thirds of Connecticut's black and Hispanic children attending segregated schools - one of the highest rates in the country - U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy hopes Congress will step up to offer funds to entice school districts to diversify.

The "busing" of students to racially integrate schools following Brown was about the constitutional rights of black students, but the story of "busing" has been told and retold as a story about the feelings and opinions of white people. 

The day after parents get the letter saying their child qualifies as gifted, they often end up in Richard Ramos' office. "Where should I send my child?" they'd ask Ramos, the principal of Haddon STEAM Academy, presuming the elementary school on a quiet street in Pacoima couldn't give their child what she needed. "Keep them here," Ramos would urge them.

This week, Hamilton Avenue School teachers became students, learning new STEM teaching methods at a week-long annual workshop for professional development. The workshop is part of Hamilton Avenue School's five year transition to becoming a STEM magnet school.

This spring, students in Jarod Brown's automotive technology class piled on the back of a bright yellow 1954 Chevy truck, and Brown took it for a spin around the North Mecklenburg High School campus. The truck was in the school's auto shop when Brown arrived last fall at his new job -- auto tech teacher. The truck didn't run and was covered with rust and algae. 

Pellissippi State Community College has landed a $3.8 million workforce development grant it plans to use to prepare more women, young adults and others for careers in advanced manufacturing and information technology.


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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.

Fall Conference


Now Open!
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. 

Renew Your Membership for 


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Remember that 
MSA memberships expired on June 30, 2016. To continue receiving eChoice, make sure to renew your membership for the 
2016-2017 year today! 

Go to our website and renew online or email MSA's Membership Coordinator, Elaina Hundley, at to request an invoice or to ask any questions! 

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