"I've come to realize the way I answer the question "What influenced you to become a teacher?" has changed. As a student, I had some exemplary teachers. Spending my entire career in the district in which I grew up, I had the great fortune to also work alongside some of those same teachers. Now that I am nearing two decades of my own career, I realize that, while my teachers played a huge part in my life, they have not been the final determining influence."
A Wake County school and one of the district's teachers have been named the best in the United States by the nation's leading magnet school organization. Farmington Woods Elementary School in Cary received Magnet School of America's Elementary Magnet School of Merit Award, given annually to the nation's top elementary magnet school. The organization also named April Guenzler, a kindergarten teacher at Brooks Elementary School in Raleigh, as its 2018 National Teacher of the Year.
CCA students have performed with national touring company productions of Porgy and Bess and Barry Manilow. The school offers programs in communications, music, dance, theatre and visual arts. Damon Gillespie, a graduate of Chattanooga Center for Creative Arts, is one of the stars of the new NBC television show "RISE."
At East Aiken School of the Arts, paintings, drawings and sculpture turn the halls into an art gallery. At Jackson STEM Magnet Middle School, using technology, students create apps and learn to think critically, giving them an edge on the workforce of the future.
What if Durham Public Schools had a college preparatory program that routinely sent students to top universities? Wouldn't parents and students beat down the door to enroll?
North Carolina is one of the national leaders in a school movement that since the 1970s has promoted diversity and educational choices for families, according to a new study on magnet schools. The study by UNC-Charlotte’s Urban Institute found there are 4,340 magnet schools in the U.S., and North Carolina has the sixth-most of any state at 263 schools.
Todd Mann, executive director of Magnet Schools of America, the national trade organization that commissioned the study, said North Carolina ranks even higher if you consider the quality of the state’s magnet schools.
"It's been huge," said Caroline Sharp, Oliver Magnet school drama teacher. "It's been a game changer because we started in a little portable with 25 kids. The next year we applied for a Disney grant and got it, and it changed everything. We had 150 kids try out that year! It has been like that ever since."
Using the school's focus on science, technology, engineering, arts and math across the curriculum, students employed engineering and scientific tools - defining the problem, asking questions and doing research - to determine the symptoms and remedy for a fictitious, mysterious disease that made students, teachers and staff sick.
Jackie Barone, principal of Charlotte-Mecklenburg's Piedmont Middle School, has been named 2017 administrator of the year by the National Association for Gifted Children. "One of the most remarkable environments I have ever visited is Piedmont IB Middle School," said Sneha Shah-Coltrane, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction's top official for education of gifted students.
"Our magnet and curriculum enhancement programs have been pillars of innovation for our district and have set a national standard for excellence," Superintendent Jim Merrill said in a written statement. "We continue to seek and discover ways to offer the best choices possible for our community."
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.