MSA Celebrates 2022-2023 National Award Winners


Dallas, TX – Magnet Schools of America (MSA) announced its 2022-2023 awards recipients during the National Conference on Magnet Schools, April 18-22, 2023. More than 1,400 magnet leaders and educators came together to celebrate top-performing schools and learn best practices on curriculum, leadership and school design.

“These awards are a significant achievement for all magnet schools,” said Ramin Taheri, MSA CEO. “All of our award 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 Saturday, April 22. They included:

Dr. Ronald P. Simpson Merit Award of Excellence

North Hollywood High School Zoo Magnet, Los Angeles Unified School District, Los Angeles, California – Awarded the Dr. Ronald P. Simpson Merit Award of Excellence, MSA’s most prestigious award for magnet schools. The North Hollywood High School Zoo Magnet Center inspires and develops our students’ interests in biological and zoological sciences by providing relevant, hands-on instruction to extend learning beyond the classroom. The Zoo Magnet is recognized by the American Association of Zookeepers as one of only six high schools in the nation partnered with a working zoo. Our close proximity and ongoing collaboration with the Los Angeles Zoo, Autry Museum of the American West, and Griffith Park Rangers facilitates implementation of unique internships, animal science courses, and interdisciplinary, magnet-themed curriculum.

Donald R. Waldrip Merit Award of Excellence

University Avenue Aerospace, Children’s Engineering, and Science Elementary, Anoka-Hennepin School District #11, Blaine, Minnesota – Awarded the Donald R. Waldrip Merit Award of Excellence. University Avenue Aerospace, Children’s Engineering and Science (ACES) is a K-5 school in the Anoka-Hennepin District that has an Aerospace and Children’s Engineering theme supported at all grade levels through STEM practices and Leadership mindsets. The school approaches student learning in unique ways to better engage nearly six hundred highly diverse learners and their families, while also leveraging community resources and partnerships. University Avenue ACES weaves its theme and leadership paradigms throughout core curriculum, partnerships, and special added-value engagement for students, families, and staff. These experiences and the intentional curriculum integration works to narrow opportunity gaps while also engaging all students in hands-on, real-world, data-informed, problem and project-based collaborative learning.

Elementary Magnet School Merit Award of Excellence

Washington Gifted & Talented Magnet Elementary School, Wake County Public School System, Raleigh, North Carolina – Awarded the Elementary Magnet School Merit Award of Excellence. Washington Gifted and Talented Elementary, a National Historic Landmark, was built in 1923 as the first public school for African-Americans in Raleigh, NC. Washington creates a vibrant learning community that makes possible academic, social, and emotional success for students from diverse cultural and socio-economic backgrounds. The 40-year program continues to be one of the most sought after magnet elementary schools in the county. Washington combines strong instructional practices in the core subjects with over 200 elective offerings that are designed to enrich and support while extending and enhancing the core curriculum. Washington is noteworthy for finding and nurturing the “gifts and talents” of all students through a unique educational program that cares for the whole child.

Secondary Magnet School Merit Award of Excellence

Cashman Middle School, Clark County School District, Las Vegas, Nevada – Awarded the Secondary Magnet School of Merit Award of Excellence. The Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) Academy at Cashman Middle School was developed to excite and engage students while educating them about various fields in the engineering world. The STEAM Academy enriches the district’s science curriculum with the Project Lead The Way program to build students’ creative thinking and creative problem solving skills. This science, technology, and arts based program allows students the opportunity to develop strong backgrounds in mathematics, science, and engineering, while showing students how creative thinking is necessary to solve the engineering problems posed to them. Through a shared vision, the entire staff has united to provide rigorous instruction and support for all students.

President’s Magnet School Merit Award of Excellence

PS 55Q, The Maure Magnet School of Communication Arts, Technology and Multimedia, NYC Community School District 28, Richmond Hill, New York – Awarded the President’s Magnet School of Merit Award of Excellence. At PS55Q, The Maure Magnet School of Communication Arts, Technology and Multimedia, we recognize the importance of communication and innovation in an ever-changing and sometimes divided world. We understand that it is not only important for students to read, write, speak and listen, but they must also be able to think critically and reach across differences to connect, create, empathize, and innovate. Teachers, along with partners and industry-professionals, co-construct project-based learning experiences, both in and out of the classroom, that are culturally-responsive, standards-aligned, and rooted in multimedia, digital-literacy, innovation, and the arts. We challenge students to be curious about their surroundings and act as explorers, advocates, designers, and problem-solvers, to answer essential questions and work together to make a positive impact on the world.

New & Emerging Magnet School Merit Award of Excellence

Chatsworth Park Urban Planning and Community Development Magnet Elementary School, Los Angeles Unified School District, Chatsworth, California – Awarded the New & Emerging Magnet School of Merit Award of Excellence. Chatsworth Park Urban Planning and Community Development (UP/CD) Magnet serves 385 students kindergarten through fifth grade in Chatsworth, California. Chatsworth Park UP/CD Magnet strives to engage students in inspiring and challenging curriculum that will provide them with the 21st Century skills to be college, career, and world ready as well as responsible community advocates. Their focus is to nurture students who will better understand the relationship between urban planning and community issues. Chatsworth Park UP/CD Magnet embraces Project Based Learning (PBL) as an authentic learning methodology while providing students opportunities in differentiation of process and product. Chatsworth Park UP/CD Magnet also integrates innovative technology into PBL to engage and excite students in their learning.

District Award for Magnet Sustainability

Richland School District Two, SC – Awarded the Donna Grady-Creer District Award for Magnet Sustainability. Richland Two strives to be the premier school district —  a learning and working environment where all partners are committed to creating, sustaining, and investing in a culture and environment of excellence and where all are afforded the opportunity to maximize their gifts and talents as they pursue their pathways to purpose.

National Magnet Teacher of the Year

Emily Eberlin, Muller Road Middle School, Richland School District Two, SC – Awarded the National Magnet Teacher of the Year Award, Ms. Eberlin has been the lead teacher for the Leadership Academy at Muller for the past seven years. She has esteemed herself as an expert in her magnet theme by presenting at Magnet Schools of America conferences.


National Magnet School Principal of the Year

Joy Abernathy-Dyer, Ph.D., Villa del Rey Creative Sciences and Arts Magnet School, East Baton Rouge Parish School System, LA – Awarded Magnet School Principal of the Year. Dr. Abernathy-Dyer is a forward thinker who has a big heart for our school, more specifically, the Magnet Program. Since the inception of the Magnet program, Villa del Rey has expanded and grown. Such growth and achievement is attributed to Dr. Abernathy-Dyer’s leadership.


National Magnet School District Administrator of the Year

Daniel Mateo, Miami-Dade County Public Schools, FL – Awarded Magnet School District Administrator of the Year. Mr. Mateo has a deep understanding of the unique needs and challenges for magnet schools and has a proven track record of successfully implementing and managing magnet school programs. He has a true talent for developing and maintaining partnerships within our community, universities, and other organizations to provide students with a wide range of educational experiences and support program sustainability.


National Magnet School District Superintendent of the Year

Kurt S. Browning, Pasco County Schools, FL – Awarded Magnet School Superintendent of the Year, Superintendent Browning has been – and continues to be – the driving force behind the transformation in Pasco County Schools. He has been remarkably effective in implementing innovative magnets in place at all grade levels and in every area of the school district. Perhaps most important, he has provided the appropriate support to ensure quality, equity, and success.


Magnet Schools of America (MSA) is a nonprofit education association that represents more than 4,340 magnet schools serving nearly 3.5 million students across 46 states and the District of Columbia. MSA was founded in 1986 and authorized as a 501(c)3 in 1994. It supports and serves the leaders and teachers of magnet and theme-based schools, while promoting the development of new magnet programs. 

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