MSA Celebrates 2024 National Award Winners


New York City (April 19, 2024) — Magnet Schools of America (MSA) announced its 2024 award recipients during MSA 2024, the National Conference on Magnet Schools, held April 16-20, 2024. More than 1,800 magnet leaders and educators came together in New York City to celebrate top-performing schools and learn best practices on curriculum, leadership, and school design.

“Our award-winning schools, principals, and educators represent the best of what magnet schools are and can be,” said Ramin Taheri, MSA CEO. “It’s an honor and privilege to recognize their accomplishments.”

All national awards recipients were officially honored at the National Merit Award Celebration on Friday, April 19. They included:

Dr. Ronald P. Simpson Magnet School of Merit Award of Excellence, MSA’s most prestigious award for magnet schools: Athens Drive Center for Medical Sciences and Global Health Initiatives Magnet High School (Wake County Public School System, Raleigh, North Carolina). Athens Center sits in an area of Raleigh, North Carolina, in an area of nationally recognized medical facilities and several universities with strong academic programs ranging from medical sciences, One Health, animal science, and global health initiatives, to STEM and design thinking pedagogies across their disciplines. Through instruction designed to address real community problems and drive students to become “Determined, Responsible, Inspiring, Valued, and Engaged” to reach our goal of Athens graduates who are ready and driven to make an impact.

Donald R. Waldrip Magnet School of Merit Award of Excellence: Conn Magnet Elementary School of Entrepreneurial Design (Wake County Public School System, Raleigh, North Carolina). Conn Magnet is the only school in Wake County and North Carolina with an Entrepreneurial Design program. At Conn, students use a design thinking approach to identify problems and create innovative solutions through challenge-based learning. The four pillars of entrepreneurial design, creative courses, digital tools, and business/community partnerships support the CONNtrepreneurs to become the leaders of tomorrow and confidently take risks, explore new ideas, and identify prototypes for better world solutions.

Elementary Magnet School of Merit Award of Excellence: Gehring Academy of Science and Technology (Clark County School District, Las Vegas, Nevada). Gehring Academy of Science and Technology is a STEM-focused elementary magnet in Clark County where students engage in academically rigorous and innovative Project Lead the Way. Students of all racial and socio-economic backgrounds work through compelling projects and problems, developing critical and creative thinking strategies along with communication and collaborative skills, and participate in interdisciplinary, hands-on learning in the gardens, tortoise habitat, STEM labs, planetarium, and technology and media rooms. Data-focused differentiated learning promotes fast-paced student growth in individualized learning paths.

Secondary Magnet School of Merit Award of Excellence: Medical Academy for Science and Technology (Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Homestead, Florida). MAST, the Medical Academy for Science and Technology is a pre-medical program housed at a former hospital with 4 strands: Biomedical Sciences, Pharmaceutical, Physical Therapy, and iMed. The students, representing over 26 countries, are providing students the opportunity to work with post-secondary and medical institutions using cutting-edge technology to earn a cross-curricular medical education. As a STEM Platinum-designated school, MAST is a symbol of excellence developing well-rounded, community-minded, and diverse global medical leaders and innovators.

President’s Magnet School of Merit Award of Excellence: Walter Bracken STEAM Academy (Clark County School District, Las Vegas, Nevada). At Walter Bracken STEAM Academy expectations for achievement and behavior are reinforced by student goal setting and a multifaceted incentive program in inquiry-based learning, collaboration, respectful communication, and critical thinking. Learning is focused on science, engineering, creativity, and innovation.  Daily STEAM block and lab experiences and before and after school clubs promote student engagement and choice within the steam theme.  Bracken is a National MSA Demonstration and Nevada Governor’s Designated STEM School.

New & Emerging Magnet School of Merit Award of Excellence: iPrep Academy North 6-12 (Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Miami, Florida). IPAN offers critical thinking, internships, research, dual enrollment, and Cambridge Advanced Certificate of Education with courses based on AI in collaboration with LEGO Education. The school strives to create a unique, collaborative environment that cultivates strong academic skills and talents for STEM students and promotes life skills beyond graduation and a vision to empower creativity with a global, technology enhanced college preparatory curriculum.

National Magnet Teacher of the Year Award: Cristina Manzanares Mariscal (Westdale Middle School, East Baton Rouge Parish School System).  Christina has always aspired to be a teacher, a calling passed down from her mother who also wanted to teach but faced economic barriers. Relocating from Spain, she is profoundly thankful for her opportunities in this country and states that the innovative approach in magnet schools enables her to foster creativity and learning.  She believes that her work in the magnet school system signifies not just a personal achievement but a responsibility to give back and states that her journey from Spain to the U. S. symbolizes personal growth and a commitment to making a meaningful impact in education.

Magnet School Principal of the Year: Amy Dockter-Rozar, Principal of West Career and Technical Academy (Clark County School District). Amy Dockter-Rozar, ensures equity and diversity, from inclusive recruitment activities that include allocating funding for bus tour, students, Girls Who Code competition, and middle school bus tours for nontraditional students, and student volunteers to elementary and middle school for academic nights and community.  Her incentive to regular counselor meetings a year has resulted in increase coursework and her steps to support underserved and underrepresented students that includes free summer enrichment and boot camps for test preparation resulting in increased AP and dual enrollment growing especially in African American and Hispanic students.

Magnet School Superintendent of the Year: Dr. José L. Dotres (Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Florida). Dr. Dotres is a passionate life-long educator and has served as Superintendent of Miami-Dade County Public Schools, the third largest school system in the United States, since February 2022. Prior to his appointment as Superintendent, Dr. Dotres held numerous instructional and administrative leadership roles over the course of his career as an educator, including Teacher, Principal, Region Administrative Director, Region Superintendent, Chief Academic Officer, Chief of Staff, Chief Human Capital Officer, and Deputy Superintendent. Dr. Dotres earned his bachelor’s degree in public administration from Florida International University.  He subsequently received a master’s degree in Reading from Barry University, an educational specialist degree in Teaching English as a Second Language from the University of Miami, and a doctoral degree in Leadership and Innovation from St. Thomas University.  


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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