In 2012, a group of Magnet Schools of America's board members, and volunteers from the membership, took on the task of examining the MSA five Pillars and drafting the Standards of Excellence. Through thirty-six months of drafts and a certification pilot study with six membership districts, the final ten Standards of Excellence were presented to the organization's membership. The purpose of these standards was to drive the process and work for becoming a nationally certified magnet school. Each of the standards have several performance indicators with a rubric that allowed schools to measure their status against exemplars.
Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is the second largest school district in the nation. It boasts a diverse student population, a multitude of schools (approximately 900), and reaches beyond the city limits to serve students in 31 smaller, surrounding municipalities. What makes LAUSD even more unique is their focus on racial integration.
Mr. Matthew Waynee of LAUSD’s LAUSD / USC Media Arts & Engineering Magnet (USC MAE), has an illustrious background. He proves the old idiom, “those who can, do; those who can’t, teach,” false - he does and teaches (well). From his first years post undergrad in TFA teaching at a rural high school in Texas, to his ongoing work in the film industry and his dedication to his current role as a Cinematic Arts teacher at USC MAE, Mr. Waynee’s career is quite a balancing act and his success proves that it’s all worth it.
2016 has been a busy year for the students, teachers and leaders of Douglas L. Jamerson Junior Elementary School (DLJ) in Pinellas County. The school has earned a number of awards, including MSA's School of Excellence Award, they were named the top Elementary STEM program in the nation by the Future of Education Technology Conference, they are a National PTA School of Excellence, and they have also been named a Five Star School by the Florida Department of Education.
Kathleen Decker, principal at Walter Bracken, Walter Long, and Hollingsworth STEAM Academies in Clark County School District, (CCSD), located in Las Vegas, Nevada, is not new to success. She was named MSA Principal of the Year in 2013 for her vibrant leadership skills and ability to turn around Walter Bracken, which in 2001 was a failing school. Since her initial MSA recognition, two more schools have been placed under her leadership. One ingredient of her success with all three schools is her use of the empowerment method.
Maya Rhodan grew up in the Southside of Chicago, Illinois. She began her magnet school career in elementary school at Murray Language Academy, a K-8 magnet school offering French, Japanese, Mandarin, and Spanish Language studies to its students.Immediately following her time at Murray Language Academy, Maya attended Whitney M. Young Magnet High School. Maya shares her alma mater with another esteemed alumna, First Lady Michelle Obama.
In 2009, Martin T. Reid joined Arthur & Polly Mays Conservatory of the Arts. Armed with a strong educational background, a B.S. from Florida A&M University, M.S. from Nova Southeastern University and an Ed. S. from The University of Miami, plus years of experience teaching and leading as a principal, Mr. Reid was ready for any challenge that Mays, a tough urban school with inner city problems.
Derek Burns, the principal at Douglas Creative Arts and Science Magnet Elementary School, insists that, “If you don’t go all in, it’s not going to work.” The “it” he is referring to here is Douglas’ magnet theme, the creative arts and sciences. Mr. Burns is heading into his third year at Douglas and he believes that allowing his faculty and staff the freedom to be creative, and modeling a strong commitment to infusing Douglas’ creative arts and sciences theme into everything they do, are the keys to building and sustaining a successful magnet school.
Lee Magnet High School has been blessed with not one, but two exceptional principals: Nanette McCann and Sharon Sims. Under their guidance, the new magnet school in Baton Rouge, Louisiana is bursting at the seams with potential as students are bonding in their temporary home at Valley Park on Bawell Street.
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.