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National Institute for Magnet School Leadership (NIMSL)

Our Team is Ready for You

Innovation and preparation are as important to our schools, teachers and administrators as they are to our children. Magnet Schools of America (MSA) founded The National Institute for Magnet School Leadership (NIMSL) as the technical assistance arm whose mission is to provide professional expertise to MSA member districts and their schools.

To meet the demand of schools wanting to grow professionally, MSA developed a credentialed team to focus solely on developing excellence schools/programs.

This specialized nationwide team of experts possesses extensive skill-based knowledge, to help guide and foster greatness in member schools and their home districts.

NIMSL experts

  • train teachers, administration and district leadership,
  • assist in the development of state and/or regional associations,
  • provide technical assistance to local school districts through on-site leadership training and evaluation of magnet school programs and
  • review policies and procedures relating to theme selection, marketing, and student assignment.


MSA customizes training and services to meet specific timeframe, budget, and local needs.

NIMSL Services Include

Design, Planning & Operations Magnet School Design, Reorganization and Invigoration, Educational Equity Planning, Integration/Desegregation Planning, Voluntary Integration Plans
Leadership Magnet School Leadership
Curriculum & Instruction Common Core Integration, Cultural Competency Assessment and Development, Culturally Responsive Teaching, Curriculum Mapping, Inquiry, Project-Based Learning
Human Capital Diversity & Equity Training, Staff Recruitment & Retention, Talent Development
Stakeholder Relations Community Engagement, Evaluation, Focus Groups, Marketing

Magnet School Design

Is your magnet school and its surrounding community, well-suited for science and technology, fine and performing arts or international studies? Or is there another theme that more closely reflects the capabilities for the school and its resources?

Engagement design, curating engagement from within your community, facilitation, and collecting/reporting survey data to determine what magnet themes that are best suited for your community is a key offering of MSA.

Based on your unique setting and capacity, MSA can help your district with community outreach and support. School diversity is an essential component to a thriving magnet school; we provide technical, legal and best practices assistance for meeting your goals.

As you implement your magnet theme, you may seek advice on best practices including staffing, leadership, instructional focus and assessment. MSA can also provide information and interaction with your school board about magnet schools – as well as research and advice when writing your Magnet Schools Assistance Program (MSAP) grant.

Magnet School Reorganization and Invigoration

Some magnet schools are “magnets” in name only.

Others have been magnet schools so long they begin to look like every other school in the neighborhood. MSA will assess your school’s vital statistics including

  • community value,
  • leadership, curriculum,
  • instructional focus,
  • parental support, and
  • make recommendations based on the viability and opportunity for the school to be a world class magnet school.

Magnet School Leadership

Leading a magnet school requires a unique set of skills that often take years to refine and develop. Our network of top performing, magnet school principals can mentor and coach your principal(s) through tough situations unique to magnet schools. Issues like transforming the culture of a school, implementing a new instructional focus or supporting other areas of development. Experienced leaders matter – and will make a difference to your magnet school.

In addition, Magnet Schools of America also provides technical assistance for the search process or in identifying a magnet school principal.

Curriculum & Instructional Practices for Magnet Schools

Magnet schools must have an instructional focus and curricular design that is different from its neighboring schools.

Magnet Schools of America can assist with identifying instructional practices, support implementation, and/or train staff in the following areas

  • Inquiry, Curriculum Mapping,
  • Backward Design,
  • Project Based Learning, and
  • Culturally Responsive Teaching, to name a few.

Instructional design that promotes cross-cultural dialogue, complex problem solving, asset-based reflection and critical thinking is a necessary asset and a strong component of any thriving magnet school.

Recruitment & Retention of Magnet School Staff

Teaching in, or leading a magnet school takes a special kind of person. Magnet Schools of America is affiliated with hundreds of districts and can assist with a search process. If needed, MSA can provide technical assistance to develop job descriptions for project managers, principals, magnet coordinators, and teachers.

Integration/Desegregation Planning

Many districts seek to ensure a diverse learning environment by maximizing opportunity and choice for families.

Magnet schools are an ideal choice for many districts seeking options, diversity, and opportunity. The issue arises, however, when districts may be unfamiliar with logistics, policy or strategic planning. District leaders may need guidance in reviewing attendance areas, lottery processes, enrollment guidelines, and transportation policies. MSA’s expansive network of experts and experience can help identify problem areas and work with you to resolve them.

Educational Equity Planning

We understand that districts are often faced with disparities in achievement. As external experts, we can gain a clearer sense of the organizational culture, ask clarifying questions, and help you hone your focus to close that gap.

MSA employs process-oriented strategies that help districts efficiently identify opportunities to achieve goals. We take a comprehensive, big picture look at your district’s ability to meet the needs of your highest and lowest performing students. We simultaneously address the issues of predictability and disproportionality of student achievement, examine student data with your executive team and help prioritize, then design, a strategy based on your needs.

Magnet School Education

Much like copy-editing a book requires a keen attention to detail and a fresh set of eyes, reviewing magnet schools with an external group of experts will affirm what’s going well and where there may be room for improvement. MSA works closely with district officials, teachers and principals to develop helpful recommendations, if necessary, in order to make existing magnet schools even better, or, may, recommend/identify the possible consolidation, duplication, or elimination of programs.

Cultural Competency Assessment and Development

Cultural competency assessment and training should be done in a manner based on strengths. It should be supportive and validating while providing a clear roadmap for the organization and individuals. Qualified administrators use the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) to assess the school’s ability to respond to cultural differences while acknowledging their own cultural assets and how they impact the teaching and learning process.

Community Engagement & Focus Groups

Wondering what your families are thinking about your magnet schools? What do they want to see improved, changed, or curtailed?

In partnership with your district, Magnet Schools of America consultants can handle delicate topics unique to magnet schools. MSA can ask the all-important follow-up questions to get to the root of concerns. We have the critical, in-depth understanding of how magnet schools work. Audience response systems may be used to provide instant feedback, which can also provide information to your community while simultaneously seeking their input.


New, Emerging, and Revitalized Magnet Schools

NIMSL P101: Pillars Workshop

Participants are introduced, and intensively engaged in each of the Pillars for 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

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 magnets 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.

Inquiries and additional information?

Please email our Director of Magnet School Leadership at

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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