Magnet Schools of America Celebrates 2021-2022 National Award Winners


April 21, 2022 —

Magnet Schools of America Celebrates 2021-2022 National Award Winners

Washington, D.C. – Magnet Schools of America (MSA) announced its 2021-2022 awards recipients during the 39th National Conference on Magnet Schools, April 18-22, 2022, in Clark County, Nevada. More than 1,200 magnet leaders and educators came together virtually and in-person to celebrate top-performing schools and learn best practices on curriculum, diversity, leadership and school design.

“These awards are a significant achievement,” said MSA Executive Director Todd Mann. “All of these recipients competed with a large number of schools and individuals. We are honored to have acknowledged their great work.”

All national awards recipients were officially honored at the National Merit Award Celebration on Thursday, April 21. MSA’s Merit Awards of Excellence and Distinction elevate the recognition of member magnet schools that demonstrate an exemplary commitment to academic standards, curriculum innovation, desegregation and diversity efforts, specialized teaching staff, and parent and community involvement. All merit schools are celebrated at the annual conference; the top five schools are listed below along with the New and Emerging Magnet School award, which honors leadership and commitment. 

Southeast Career Technical Academy (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. Southeast Tech, the first career technical academy in Clark County has served as a model for other technical academies for over 50 years. The school motto, “We Build Futures!” begins with a required freshman course, Tools for Success, that teaches life skills such as finance, social skills, and workplace readiness and is then delivered through 12 career programs including among others, Animation and Digital Game Development, Architectural Engineering, Automotive Service, a full Cosmetology College, Nursing, Photography, and Sports Medicine. Students in every career technical program are offered the opportunity to participate in internships, job shadowing, and job interviews within their career technical industry.

Cutler Bay Senior High School COAST Academy (Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Florida) – Awarded the Donald R. Waldrip Magnet School of Merit Award of Excellence. Miami’s Cutler Bay Ocean Academy’s coastal wetlands provide an ideal environment for marine life and oceanic studies. Students used a sailboat kit provided by one of the school’s community partners in a boat-building project that incorporated engineering, chemistry, painting, photographic, and artistic skills that ended in a sailing expedition in Biscayne Bay employing meteorological and navigational techniques. The new Pre-Advanced Placement Music course explores the creation of musical journeys emulating the sounds of the sea. COAST’s objectives are dedicated to ensuring the sustained viability of marine ecosystems and species, thereby protecting our ocean biome and the livelihood of local communities for future generations.

WJ Bryan Museums Magnet School (Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Florida) – Awarded the Elementary Magnet School of Merit Award of Excellence. WJ Bryan Museums Magnet School, housed in a 1929 historic building, is itself a museum where objects and artifacts guide instruction. Arched hallways feature the edible food forest and photographs of student learning expeditions and awards. Students attend learning expeditions at various museums to reinforce in-class lessons and create extension activities utilizing the design-based learning ideology such as project and object-based learning. “The Villagers’ Museum Gallery features student projects and class projects exemplifying the connections made at the museums.” The school connects life, art, and learning in creative and inspiring ways and teachers and students work collaboratively to extend classroom lessons.

JHS 123 – The Bronx Urban Community Magnet School (Bronx, New York) – Awarded the Secondary Magnet School of Merit Award of Excellence. The Bronx Urban Community Magnet School uses science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics as a lens for experiential learning. Passionate teachers nurture students to become risk-takers, mistake-makers, team players, and trendsetters. By 9th grade, they meet five school-specific standards that reflect mastery of magnet skills including tangible technology products, independent research, and design thinking. The school is proud to boast that they disrupt inequity by empowering students to shape a changing world and serve an under-resourced and often undervalued community of immigrant and minority families. The school’s program is based on STEAM innovation where students are encouraged to be like great innovators who make products for the future and thus become advocates and change agents for their local and global communities.

James B. Sanderlin K-8 (Pinellas County, Florida) – Awarded the President’s Magnet School of Merit Award of Excellence. Sanderlin IB is committed to teaching and learning with the brain and heart in mind. This K-8 magnet school infuses the IB “approach to learning” to move students from learning content to understanding the process of creating new knowledge. Students make real-world global connections to become socially responsible and support the UN Sustainable goals of Zero Hunger by collecting food. They learn about food sustainability by taking care of a garden on campus.  In addition to implementing a standards-based conceptual academic curriculum, the school emphasizes the social and emotional growth of its students. 

Sandlapper Elementary Computer Science Immersion School (Richland School District Two, South Carolina) – Awarded the New & Emerging Magnet School of Merit Award of Excellence. Sandlapper is a Computer Science Immersion magnet school dedicated to growing with the community and establishing a world-class school that embraces diversity. Students are prepared to be effective collaborators, communicators, computational and creative thinkers, and problem-solvers, all with a global perspective. They are prepared for the future by integrating programming with content subjects giving them a well-rounded understanding of the use of technology to create. Students accomplish three Epic Build projects a year and develop the computer science skills necessary for future careers that require an advanced understanding of Computational Thinking.

Clinton McCracken (Howard Middle School, Orange County Public Schools) – Awarded the National Magnet Teacher of the Year Award, Clinton McCracken’s experience with art led him into this role because studying art was his pathway out of poverty and to higher education. He became a teacher because he is passionate about art and the difference it can make in students’ lives. McCracken also loves the energy of middle school students and how ready they are to soak in new information and ideas. 

He says his greatest contributions as a magnet teacher have been at the individual student level. McCracken works hard to build strong relationships and a positive classroom community creating a space for students to take risks with their art. “I think students would say my art room is a calming haven. I live for the moments where I can help students create an artwork they worked hard on and are beaming with pride when they see it displayed for their peers or in an exhibit,” he said.

Brendan T. Mims, Principal of MSA 358 Magnet Schools for STEAM Exploration and Experiential Learning (Queens, New York) – Awarded Magnet School Principal of the Year. Brendan T. Mims is the founding principal of MS358 in Queens, NY. He founded MS358 to “motivate hearts, inspire minds, and change the world for the better.” He’s proud that through STEAM-based education and “passionate speaking, purposeful writing, and powerful presentation,” students can practice empathy and advocacy while proficiency rises. He believes that all students deserve a high-quality education and has worked to develop a culture that is inclusive, caring and committed to continual growth and excellence.

Principal Mims has developed a culture that is inclusive, caring, and dedicated to the idea that all students deserve a high quality education where they can thrive and achieve regardless of race, social status, gender, language, orientation, [nationality, religion, or ability. He works with outside organizations, arts partners, cultural institutions, higher education, and all school stakeholders to ensure that MS358 is a community where all students learn at high levels, feel welcomed and included, appreciate their own and other cultures, and work to promote justice and fairness in the school community and beyond.

Molly Allmond (Galveston, Texas) – Awarded Magnet School District Administrator of the Year. Over the past decade, Molly Allmond has served in a variety of positions in Galveston ISD to promote, support, and sustain magnet programs. Since the inception of MSAP magnet schools in 2010, Galveston ISD has been a Schools of Choice district. The first Galveston ISD Academic Programs for Equity and eXcellence (APEX) MSAP project included four elementary schools and one middle school. During this time, Allmond was a Campus Curriculum Facilitator at a magnet elementary campus and worked closely with the magnet coordinator to magnetize the culture and “scream the theme.” 

Cathy Moore (Wake County Public School System, North Carolina) – Awarded Magnet School Superintendent of the Year, Cathy Moore has been superintendent of Wake County Public School System for the past 3.5 years. The strongest recognition of Superintendent Moore’s commitment to students, staff, families, and community partners occurred in 2018 when the local Board of Education’s changed her contract from an annual renewal to a rolling two-year contract. In 2019 and again in November 2021, the BOE extended her contract for two additional years. The BOE noted that this move was done to [publicly demonstrate their support and confidence in Cathy Moore’s leadership.

Clark County School District (Nevada) – Awarded the Donna Grady-Creer District Award for Magnet Sustainability. The Environmental Services Department for the Clark County School District delivers reliable services to ensure the environmental health and safety of students, their families, educators and staff, and the public while on Clark County School District property.

It is a responsive team with the knowledge and expertise to efficiently and professionally investigate, monitor and resolve district-wide environmental issues and complaints. The team successfully develops, maintains and implements environmental compliance programs to make certain district-wide activities comply with established environmental laws and regulations, and District policies and procedures.

Magnet schools are innovative public schools that use theme-based curricula to attract students from across different socioeconomic and racial backgrounds. These schools are open and accessible to all students, and most use a lottery system or other non-academic criteria for admission.

Operated by and accountable to school districts, magnet schools are the original and largest form of public school choice. There are currently 4,340 magnet schools, serving nearly 3.5 million students across 46 states and the District of Columbia.

For more information on magnet schools, visit


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