Magnet School Merit Awards Program

 

Must be a PAID 2021-2022 MSA Member by Monday November 1, 2021
*Membership inquiries, please email membership@magnet.edu OR call 202.824.0672

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EXCELLENCE + INNOVATION + DIVERSITY + COMMUNITY

All magnet schools share the philosophy of executing innovative programs with a dedication to diversity and an unwavering commitment to academic standards – because that is the Magnet School ‘standard.’

The Magnet School of Merit Awards elevates that standard to recognize member magnet schools/programs that demonstrate an exemplary commitment to academic standards, curriculum innovation, desegregation/diversity efforts, specialized teaching staffs and parent and community involvement.

The 2021-2022 Merit Award categories are:

  • (1a) School of Excellence – Whole School Magnet
  • (1b) School of Excellence – Program Within-a-School*
  • (1c) School of Excellence – New & Emerging
  • (2a) School of Distinction – Whole School Magnet
  • (2b) School of Distinction – Program Within-a-School*
  • (2c) School of Distinction – New & Emerging

*Program Within-a-School programs must consist of at least twenty percent (20%) of the student population involved in the program OR a minimum of 150 students.

The Magnet School of Excellence is the top merit award category and is only awarded to a select group of magnet schools.

The Magnet School of Distinction is the second highest award of recognition.

To receive a merit award member schools must submit an application that is scored by a panel of educators. Cash awards are provided to the top Magnet Schools of Excellence.


TOP NATIONAL AWARDS

The Dr. Ronald P. Simpson School of Excellence Award is considered the most prestigious award for magnet schools in the nation and includes a $5,000 cash award presented to the winning school.

This award recognizes the work of Dr. Ronald P. Simpson, one of the founding members of Magnet Schools of America who worked in the Kansas City (Missouri) Public School System. He also served as the second MSA president from 1994-1995.

Magnet Schools of America created national awards for elementary and secondary Magnet Schools of Excellence, both include cash awards of $2,500. The elementary Magnet Schools of Excellence award is sponsored by Magnet Schools of America and is named after Dr. Donald Waldrip, founder and MSA’s first Executive Director.

The New and Emerging Magnet School of Excellence Award is recognized nationally for its leadership and commitment to magnet schools, the Washington, DC Law Firm Hogan Lovells is the sponsor of this $1,000 cash award.

*ALL PREVIOUS MONETARY AWARD RECIPIENTS are NOT eligible to receive cash awards for five years after the initial award, but are eligible for the Excellence and Distinction award categories.  Exception: A New and Emerging School, having completed its fourth year, may be eligible for other cash awards in their category. 

2020 National Magnet School Merit Award Winners

National merit awards are given to magnet schools that demonstrate a commitment to high academic standards, curriculum innovation, successful desegregation and diversity efforts, and strong parent and community involvement. To be considered for a merit award, member schools must submit an application that is scored by a panel of educators.

There are two categories of merit awards: (1) Magnet Schools of Excellence, the top merit award given to only a select group of magnet schools and (2) Magnet Schools of Distinction, the second highest award of recognition. The highest ranked magnet schools in the Excellence category are eligible to receive MSA’s highest national awards listed below.

  • Thurman White Academy of the Performing Arts (Clark County School District, Nevada) – Awarded the Dr. Ronald P. Simpson Magnet School of Merit Award of Excellence, MSA’s most prestigious award for magnet schools. Thurman White Academy of the Performing Arts is a wall to wall magnet program in Henderson, Nevada, serving grades 6-8. Thurman provides opportunities for students to explore their stage, find a passion and develop their talents and abilities in all areas of the arts by working with local and national/international artists in the classrooms.
  • Wiley International Studies Magnet Elementary School (Wake County Public School System, North Carolina) – Awarded the Donald R. Waldrip Magnet School of Merit Award of Excellence. Wiley International Studies Magnet Elementary inspires and empowers globally competent students to investigate the world, recognize and weigh perspectives, communicate ideas and take action. The Wiley community connects locally and globally through integrated units infused with the Common Core and Essential Standards, the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) global competencies and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Baton Rouge Center for Visual and Performing Arts (East Baton Rouge Public School System, Louisiana) – Awarded the Elementary Magnet School of Merit Award of Excellence. Baton Rouge Center for Visual and Performing Arts is a nationally certified public Magnet school serving 464 students in grades K-5 while maintaining an A-rating from the Louisiana Department of Education for academic excellence. Harnessing the power of learning through the arts, students engage in an hour of arts instruction daily, which includes Dance, Drama, Visual Arts, Theater, and Music from certified professional teaching artists.
  • Connecticut River Academy (LEARN, Connecticut) – Awarded the Secondary Magnet School of Merit Award of Excellence. The Connecticut River Academy (CTRA) is an early college public magnet high school with a sustainability theme that focuses on advanced manufacturing and environmental science.
  • Paul W. Bell Middle School (Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Florida) – Awarded the President’s Magnet School of Merit Award of Excellence. Paul Bell Middle School is an exciting, state-of-the-art facility located in western Miami-Dade County enriching the surrounding community it serves through the development of bilingual, biliterate, and bicultural students.
  • Richard O. Jacobson Technical High School at Seminole (Pinellas County Schools, Florida) – Awarded the New & Emerging Magnet School of Merit Award of Excellence. Richard O Jacobson Technical High School at Seminole (Tech High) is Pinellas County Schools only high school dedicated to academic excellence in conjunction with technical career skills expertise.

 

2020 Merit Awardee Profiles

Dr. Ronald P. Simpson Distinguished Award –

Thurman White Academy of the Performing Arts (TWA) is a wall to wall magnet program in Henderson, Nevada serving grades 6-8. TWA provides opportunities for students to explore their stage, find a passion and develop their talents and abilities in all areas of the arts by working with local and national/international artists in the classrooms. Students expand an appreciation of the arts by attending local performances and participating in master classes to build that real life connection from school to career. Our program consists of seven major areas of study: Orchestra, Theatre, Band, Choir, Dance, Media Arts and Visual Arts. Magnet students choose two electives within their major to enhance core curriculum where arts are infused with ELA, science, social studies, and math.

Donald R. Waldrip Award –

Wiley International Studies Magnet Elementary inspires and empowers globally competent students to investigate the world, recognize and weigh perspectives, communicate ideas and take action. The Wiley community connects locally and globally through integrated units infused with the Common Core and Essential Standards, the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) global competencies and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. We use digital tools to enhance learning opportunities and to communicate across cultures. Students engage in a year-long study of Chinese, French, German, Japanese or Spanish. Students also select quarter-long, internationally focused electives in fine arts, movement, and 21st century skills, promoting cultural awareness and deeper connections to our world.

Elementary Magnet School of Merit Award of Excellence –

Baton Rouge Center for Visual and Performing Arts is a nationally certified public Magnet school serving 464 students in grades K-5 while maintaining an A-rating from the Louisiana Department of Education for academic excellence. Harnessing the power of learning through the arts, students engage in an hour of arts instruction daily, which includes Dance, Drama, Visual Arts, Theater, and Music from certified professional teaching artists. Weekly faculty collaborative planning and professional development provide the support needed for content and arts teachers to create and lead true arts integrated instruction throughout the year. Grade level productions and performance groups such as orchestra, dance troupe, and choir provide all students with opportunities to apply prior knowledge while further developing their skills and understanding through interdisciplinary experiential learning.

Secondary Magnet School of Merit Award of Excellence –

The Connecticut River Academy (CTRA) is an early college public magnet high school with a sustainability theme that focuses on advanced manufacturing and environmental science.  It is located on the beautiful riverfront Goodwin College campus in East Hartford, Connecticut with about half of its 481 scholars coming from the city of Hartford.  There are about 70 CTRA scholars enrolled in a dual credit program at Goodwin College. In 2017 an advanced manufacturing focus was added to the sustainability theme and in December 2019 an annex will open that features high tech industry-grade manufacturing equipment for hands-on learning.  A pathway for earning a 37 credit college certificate in advanced manufacturing is available to complete while attending CTRA.

President’s Magnet School Merit Award of Excellence –  

Paul W. Bell Middle School is an exciting, state-of-the-art facility located in western Miami-Dade County enriching the surrounding community it serves through the development of bilingual, biliterate, and bicultural students.  We are a Cambridge International magnet and our theme is Navigating Towards a Complete Education for Every Child through the implementation of four primary components of our program: Advanced Academics and Scholarship, Cultivating Art and Culture, Infusing Technology and Global Education.  We strive for excellence in the development of lifelong learners and productive citizens by applying throughout both core and elective courses technologically driven instruction and project-based learning.

New and Emerging Magnet School Merit Award of Excellence 

Richard O Jacobson Technical High School at Seminole (Tech High) is Pinellas County Schools only high school dedicated to academic excellence in conjunction with technical career skills expertise.  Tech High’s highly trained and dedicated staff provide students with seven different technical career program options:  Building and Construction Technology; Commercial and Digital Arts; Electricity; Gaming and Simulation Programming; Marine Mechanics; Nursing; and Veterinary Science.  Tech High prepares students for postsecondary and workforce success through advanced-level classes, real-world internships, a focus on soft skills, and industry certifications.


Congratulations to our 2020 Merit Winners!

A complete list of winners can be accessed below.

Top 20 Schools of Excellence

2020 Schools of Excellence

2020 Schools of Distinction

2019 National Magnet School Merit Award Winners

National merit awards are given to magnet schools that demonstrate a commitment to high academic standards, curriculum innovation, successful desegregation and diversity efforts, and strong parent and community involvement. To be considered for a merit award, member schools must submit an application that is scored by a panel of educators.

There are two categories of merit awards: (1) Magnet Schools of Excellence, the top merit award given to only a select group of magnet schools and (2) Magnet Schools of Distinction, the second highest award of recognition. The highest ranked magnet schools in the Excellence category are eligible to receive MSA’s highest national awards listed below.

  • Miami Lakes Educational Center (Miami-Dade County Public Schools in Miami Lakes, FL) received the Dr. Ronald P. Simpson Distinguished Merit Award, which is named after MSA’s founding member. It is sponsored by American Education Solutions, Inc.
  • Energy Institute High School (Houston Independent School District in Houston, TX) received the Dr. Donald Waldrip Award, which is named after MSA’s first Executive Director. The Waldrip Award is Magnet Schools of America’s second highest honor.
  • Davis Bilingual Magnet Elementary (Tucson Unified School District, in Tucson, AZ) received the President’s Magnet School of Merit Award of Excellence. The President’s Award is Magnet Schools of America’s third highest honor bestowed on behalf of the President of MSA.
  • MacFarlane Park Elementary (Hillsborough County Public Schools in Tampa, FL) received the Elementary Magnet School Merit Award of Excellence.
  • Wake STEM Early College High School (Wake County Public School System in Raleigh, North Carolina) received the Secondary Magnet School of Merit Award of Excellence.
  • Reedy Creek Magnet Middle Center for the Digital Sciences (Wake County Public School System in Raleigh, North Carolina) received the New & Emerging Magnet School of Merit Award sponsored by Hogan Lovells, LLC

2019 Merit Awardee Profiles

Dr. Ronald P. Simpson Distinguished Award – American Education Solutions, Inc.

Miami Lakes Educational Center (MLEC) is an “A-rated” high school built around six rigorous, career- themed academies (Cambridge, Communications, Entrepreneurship, Health Science, Information Technology, and Applied Technology). Their 1216 students enroll in the required core curricula as well as career/technical courses they select within an academy and strand. The strands create a personalized school-within-a-school learning environment for their students. Their goal is to provide students with advanced academics, literature, mathematics, science, and social science choices— while incorporating training in real-world career skills, such as dental assisting and engineering, associated with the specific objectives of each academy and strand. Upon graduation, students will earn a diploma, industry certification and college credits that will accelerate their entry into their chosen college or career path.

Dr. Donald R. Waldrip Award –

Energy Institute High School is the first of its kind in the nation! Energy IHS is a whole school S.T.E.M. magnet program where instruction is delivered completely through project based learning. They are devoted to providing unique opportunities for students through project based learning, technology integration, and authentic industry partnerships. Their energy theme exposes students to careers in the energy industry, problems the industry is working to solve, and the global soft skills students need to be successful post high school.

President’s Magnet School Merit Award of Excellence –  

Davis Bilingual Magnet elementary school has proudly promoted a “Spanish Immersion” Bilingual model for more than thirty-seven years. All teachers hold a Bilingual Endorsement and participate in on-going training in culturally responsive teaching and bilingual methodology. In order to provide a broad foundation for meaningful language learning, enrichment classes are provided for students in Art, Music, Gardening and PE using Spanish as the vehicle for instruction, while offering opportunities for cultural celebrations and transdisciplinary connections. The Tucson community embraces the program as one in which cultural diversity, “familia,” traditions and language learning are celebrated.

Elementary Magnet School of Merit Award of Excellence –

MacFarlane Park Magnet Elementary is nestled in the heart of West Tampa, located in the school district of Hillsborough County, Florida. Their 373 students in kindergarten through fifth grade, represent 34 nationalities, and are inspired to explore beyond their national borders and embrace 21st century learning. Their teachers develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who contribute positively to help shape the life of the school, community, and all of humanity. Special features of their instructional program include strings, world language, an increased focus on geography and culture, environmental issues, peace education, service and conflict resolution.

Secondary Magnet School of Merit Award of Excellence –

The Wake STEM Early College High School is a small public school of choice; a joint project between the Wake County Public School System and North Carolina State University. The theme of the school is College and Career Readiness through a STEM lens. All high school coursework focuses around the NAE’s Grand Challenges for Engineering making each course relevant to the future of society while embedding the “4 C’s of Education”. During the third year of high school,
students begin coursework at NCSU where they are integrated into the classes with the current student body. Through consistent involvement with local business leaders students learn and demonstrate career readiness skills preparing them for future success.

New and Emerging Magnet School Merit Award of Excellence  Hogan Lovells, LLC

The theme of Reedy Creek Magnet Middle School Center for the Digital Sciences is defined by: Embedding computational thinking pedagogy into all curricular areas; offering a menu of digital sciences electives to all students, including a multi-leveled robust mechatronics program; providing technology and software in classrooms and creativity suites to support projects; and fostering unique partnerships with industry leaders that enhance student and teacher learning and engagement. This coming together of unique electives, theme-related co-curricular activities, and core classes taught through the lens of computational thinking prepares students for their futures in a digital world. Working in a digital learning environment, students learn and practice collecting data, breaking it down, analyzing it, looking for patterns, and finding creative and innovative steps to solve problems.

 


2019 Schools of Excellence (Download PDF)

2019 Schools of Distinction (Download PDF)

2018 National Magnet School Merit Award Winners

National merit awards are given to magnet schools that demonstrate a commitment to high academic standards, curriculum innovation, successful desegregation and diversity efforts, and strong parent and community involvement. To be considered for a merit award, member schools must submit an application that is scored by a panel of educators.

This year, 389 magnet schools applied for national merit awards, making 2018 the most competitive year in the award program’s history. There are two categories of merit awards: (1) Magnet Schools of Excellence, the top merit award given to only a select group of magnet schools and (2) Magnet Schools of Distinction, the second highest award of recognition. The highest ranked magnet schools in the Excellence category are eligible to receive MSA’s highest national awards listed below.

  • East Career and Technical Academy (Clark County School District, NV) received the Dr. Ronald P. Simpson Distinguished Merit Award, which is named after MSA’s founding member. It is sponsored by American Education Solutions, Inc.
  • Van Nuys High School (Los Angeles Unified School District, CA) received the Dr. Donald Waldrip Award, which is named after MSA’s first Executive Director. The Waldrip Award is Magnet Schools of America’s second highest honor.
  • Liberty Elementary STEM Museum Magnet (Broward County Public Schools, FL) received the President’s Magnet School of Merit Award of Excellence. The President’s Award is Magnet Schools of America’s third highest honor bestowed on behalf of the President of MSA.
  • Farmington Woods International Baccalaureate PYP Magnet Elementary (Wake County Public School System, North Carolina) received the Elementary Magnet School Merit Award of Excellence.
  • Young Women’s Preparatory Academy (Miami-Dade County Public Schools, FL) received the Secondary Magnet School of Merit Award of Excellence.
  • McCaw STEAM Academy (Clark County School District, NV) received the New & Emerging Magnet School of Merit Award sponsored by Hogan Lovells, LLC.

 

2018 Merit Awardee Profiles

Dr. Ronald P. Simpson Distinguished Award – 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.

Dr. Donald R. Waldrip Award –

Van Nuys High School offers three magnet programs: medical; performing arts; and science, technology, and math. Each magnet program is infused with a college preparatory core curriculum of mathematics and sciences regardless of study. The arts include a variety of creative opportunities including dance, theater, voice, music, film, and stage technology. It is part of the Los Angeles Unified School District in California.

Elementary Magnet School of Merit Award of Excellence –

Farmington Woods Elementary embraces inquiry based learning with a focus on global understanding. It seeks to empower critical thinkers through a rigorous IB curriculum that fosters lifelong learning, international mindedness, and citizenship. It is part of the Wake County Public School System in North Carolina.

Secondary Magnet School of Merit Award of Excellence –

Young Women’s Preparatory Academy is the first single-gender public school in Miami. It was established in 2006 as a one-to-one technology leadership magnet school for 6-12th grade girls. The school’s leadership theme is based on Steven Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens. It is part of Miami-Dade County Public Schools in Florida.

New and Emerging Magnet School Merit Award of Excellence  Hogan Lovells, LLC

McCaw STEAM Academy engages students in the critical areas of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math with a focus in geological science. The goal of the school is to help students become innovators and critical thinkers while developing a growth mindset that begins with goal setting. This all takes place during an extended day that allows students to participate in Makerspace, Robotics, and Fine Art Labs as well as engage in the Design Thinking Process in its Discovery Center. It is part of the Clark County School District in Nevada.

President’s Magnet School Merit Award of Excellence –  

Liberty Elementary is a STEM museum magnet school that seeks to prepare students to become problem solvers who can compete in a global society. It integrates STEM instruction and activities throughout the school day. Students at Liberty Elementary demonstrate their content knowledge by completing semester long cross-curricular STEM projects that are showcased twice yearly when the school is transformed into a museum. It is part of Broward County Public Schools in Florida.


2018 Schools of Excellence

2018 Schools of Distinction


Learn how to become a Nationally Certified Magnet School

Raise the level of performance consistent throughout school districts nationwide and creates a platform from which all magnet schools can flourish. Magnet Schools of America’s national certification process is designed to recognize the hard work of the best magnet schools in the nation and to help them as they grow.

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