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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 in 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.
  • provide technical assistance to local school districts through on-site leadership training and evaluation of magnet school programs.
  • review policies and procedures relating to theme selection, marketing, and student assignment.
  • provide strategic implementation planning for new, emerging, and revitalized magnet schools.
  • coach schools and staff toward earning Certification.

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


New, Emerging, and Revitalized Magnet Schools

MSAP School Strategic Implementation Planning One day with each school to develop a strategic design implementation plan based on the successful elements of implementation science.  Each school will develop a guiding document that incorporates their professional learning, parent engagement, partnership engagement, curriculum work, and sustainability planning.
Magnet School MSAP Project Coaching A point of contact for each school available to provide personalized supports, which is invaluable for successful implementation and benchmarking to other schools nationally with similar experiences.   The site visits (coordinated to ensure coherence across the district) and content discussions will be aligned to the needs and themes of each school, along with their current developmental levels as magnet schools.
Setting a Foundation for High Functioning Magnet Schools with Fidelity Participants will be 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 by exploring research briefs, Ted Talks, exemplar programs, and group think tanks to ensure their magnet schools recognize the critical elements and reflect a truly rigorous, diverse, and engaging environment in which students demonstrate achievement gains.
Leading Successful Magnet Schools This workshop will provide participants an opportunity to examine exemplar practices in model magnet schools throughout the country.  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.
Advanced Theme-Based Coaching 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.
Sustainability FIRST 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.
Ensuring Excellence for ALL – Cultural Competencies Setting school climate and culture is the work of all persons in a magnet school, working from research-based practices of Teaching Tolerance and Culturally Competent Leadership, these workshops support administrators and teachers in developing and taking action on creating the conditions for successful school practices to celebrate their rich backgrounds.
Engaged! This workshop will address the success of exemplar magnet schools and their deep engagement of stakeholders (parents, families, communities, and partners).  Through a protocol that ignites the stakeholders and keeps them engaged, participants will experience a lab setting using tools to solve real problems with engaging and sustaining committed stakeholders at the magnet school.
Teacher Assessment Workshop Series Year 1: Three school-wide workshops and one leadership workshop
Year 2: Three school-wide workshops and one leadership workshop
Year 3: Two school-wide workshops, one leadership workshop, one webinar, and Assessment Implementation Coaching
Years 4 & 5: Workshops will be identified and implemented, based on the work and progress made during the previous three years.
Ensuring Diverse Student Populations; Successful Recruitment and Retention Practices for Magnet Pathways This professional learning experience provides a student recruitment / retention framework based on a whole system approach of support for students and families.  The session will focus on practical strategies and best practices that work at the school level to ensure magnet students are successfully retained through high school.
STEAMifying Your School Implementing the best practices of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics is vital to creating a high functioning magnet pathway K-12.  Working with school teams and community partners, these workshop sessions will focus on matching current practices to the Next Generation Science Standards and Engineering Practices.
Authentic Learning Experiences for Students Community-based and authentic learning experiences through Project Based Learning are known to be supportive for student achievement and engagement. In these two-day sessions, schools will create a framework for creating learning projects that are rooted in age and grade level standards, utilize the natural surroundings of the school and engage community partners.
Magnet School Certification Readiness Participants will simulate a quasi-certification activity and will work to assist the magnet schools and leadership in evaluating where the strengths and challenges are for each program and can be used in strategic planning for school improvement efforts. Each will leave the workshop with a clear understanding of their school’s successes and challenges, prepare to address in strategic action planning, and address via SMART goals where necessary.


Customized assistance includes

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.

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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