MSA Superintendent of the Year

EARLY DEADLINE: Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Online submission link forthcoming.
NOW AVAILABLE: 2019 Guidelines and Criteria (click on tabs below)

Magnet Schools of America Superintendent of the Year

Dr. Stephen Hefner, School District Five of Lexington and Richland Counties, South Carolina
This annual award recognizes the important work of leadership within our school districts to keep magnet schools a priority in the portfolio of school choice options. Dr. Hefner’s unyielding focus on expanding school choice by creating magnet options in District Five has been the catalyst for school improvement districtwide. Spanning nearly 30 years, Dr. Hefner has facilitated the creation of numerous magnet schools and programs in two South Carolina districts, many of which have been recognized by Magnet Schools of America as Schools of Excellence and Schools of Distinction, and achieved designation as Nationally Certified Magnet Schools. In District Five, Dr. Hefner has also helped school leaders secure two multi-million dollar federal Magnet School Assistance Program (MSAP) grants, including a $10.3 million grant in 2013 and $13.7 million grant announced last fall.


Leadership, commitment and involvement are three descriptors that capture the essence of the qualities Magnet Schools of American (MSA) seeks in candidates for the MSA Superintendent of the Year.  Those eligible to be nominated

      • must have served as Superintendent within the district in which they are being nominated for at least two years
      • must be a member of MSA at the time of nomination,
      • may nominate themselves or be nominated by school board members, parents, colleagues and/or community members,
      • must include a letter of nomination, signed from the nominator, and submitted online along with the application, and
      • must include, in the on-line process, a signed acknowledgement letter from a current Board of Education member.


NOTE: Previous winners within the last five years are ineligible for nomination.

Annually, the Magnet Schools of America (“MSA”) will select a MSA Superintendent of the Year based on superintendent’s: strong leadership skills, particularly in developing and supporting magnet schools/programs; commitment to improving the quality of education in his/her school district through the development and implementation of magnet programs/schools that are of high quality and that have diverse enrollments; commitment to the support of magnets at the local, state and national levels, involvement in education, and ability to build good employee relations among teachers and staff members.


Nominees must have served as Superintendent within the district for at least two years and be an active member of Magnet Schools of America at the time of the nomination. ALL PREVIOUS WINNERS are NOT eligible for five (5) years after the award.


  • School Board members, parents, colleagues, and community members may nominate the Superintendent.
  • Superintendents may nominate themselves.
  • A letter of nomination from the nominator must be submitted with the online application at the time of submission.
  • A signed acknowledgment letter from a current Board of Education member must be submitted with the online application at the time of submission.


  • The Executive Board of MSA will determine the winner of the Superintendent of the Year Award.
  • Magnet Schools of America shall present the Superintendent of the Year Award at the annual National Conference on Magnet Schools. This year’s conference will take place April 10-13, 2019 in Baltimore, Maryland.

The MSA will select the superintendent for the Superintendent of the Year based on exhibiting magnet school leadership in his or her magnet schools within the district, state and national level in the following areas:


in no more than 500 words

  • Student Performance (Evidence including academic data)
  • School Improvement (Evidence including academic data Improvement over at least two years)
  • Instructional Management (Evidence that superintendent has strong instructional organizational skills)


in no more than 500 words

  • Fiscal Management (Evidence that district budget has been handled responsibly)
  • Facilities Management (Evidence that the district’s space, organization, and structures are well coordinated)
  • Student Management (Evidence that there is a well-structured, secure and efficient program in place to record inquiries from prospective students; handle the admission process enroll new students; handle assessments/exams/academic progress; maintain records of absences and attendance; mapping and development goals; and etc.)
  • Personnel Management (Evidence the superintendent optimizes people efficiently, empowering their talent, potential, and ability)


in no more than 500 words

  • School Board-Superintendent Relations (Evidence of healthy communication and feedback with the local board of education)
  • School-Community Relations (Evidence of healthy communication and feedback with the business/community partners in the district)
  • Actively Promoting Magnets (Evidence the superintendent promotes, supports, and builds sustainability for magnet schools in the district)

Criteria 4: SUPPORT

in no more than 250 words

How has the Superintendent supported magnet schools and programs in their districts, including describing programs developed and implemented, enrollments, success and outcomes.


  • A basic resume (no more than 3 pages) should accompany the application along with a photo of the Superintendent.
    Resume should include education, administrative experiences, professional growth opportunities and dates (i.e., memberships and offices held in professional organizations/associations; professional development activities; publications/articles; leadership positions/roles).
  • Two letters of recommendation. Letters from current staff will not be considered.
  • School system information (i.e., enrollment, grades, brief description of school system).


Documents, media shares, clippings, etc. that support the superintendent’s professional accomplishments.

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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