Missouri’s Maplewood Richmond Heights School District, New York’s Monroe-Woodbury Central School District, and Pennsylvania’s Pittsburgh Public Schools have been named the grand prize winners in the American School Board Journal’s (ASBJ) 18th annual Magna Awards program.
The Magna Awards are supported by Sodexo School Services. Each of the grand prize-winning school districts will receive $4,000 in scholarship money during a special presentation at the National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) Annual Conference, to be held April 21-23 in Boston.
The Magna Awards recognize districts across the country for outstanding programs that advance student learning and encourage community involvement in schools. This year’s three grand prize, 15 first place, and 15 honorable mention winners were selected from three enrollment categories: less than 5,000 students, 5,000 to 20,000 students, and over 20,000 students.
“The Magna Awards exemplifies strong school board leadership, creativity, and commitment to student achievement in public education,” said Anne L. Bryant, ASBJ’s publisher and executive director of NSBA. “This year’s Magna Awards recipients truly showcase the best practices and innovative school programs that are advancing student success.”
“Sodexo is proud to create learning-friendly environments that allow our partner districts to focus on doing what they do best—educating our children,” said Steve Dunmore, president of Sodexo Education-Schools. “We are honored to sponsor the Magna Awards and want to celebrate all school boards and communities that share in the commitment to further student well-being and achievement.”
Here is information on the grand prize entries:
• The Maplewood Richmond Heights School District in Maplewood, Mo., earned the grand prize in the under 5,000 enrollment category for its outreach program for homeless high school students. School district officials worked with local churches and community volunteers to create Joe’s Place—a shelter for homeless male high school students. The shelter provides students with counseling and a caring home environment. Of the 14 students served by Joe’s Place, 13 have graduated from high school or on track to graduate. Six former Joe’s Place residents are attending college, one has joined the Navy, and two more are employed full-time.
• The Monroe-Woodbury Central School District in Central Valley, N.Y., is being honored as the grand prize winner in the 5,000 to 20,000 enrollment category for an outreach program at an elementary school that serves a community with a large immigrant population. School district officials, with support from the school board, developed “English as a Second Language Family Night,” a program that provides literacy training for students and their parents twice a week. While the literacy skills of both parents and students improved, more parents volunteered for class activities. Parents also were more comfortable expressing themselves to school staff members.
• The Pittsburgh (Pa.) Public Schools are being honored as the grand prize winner in the over 20,000 enrollment category for its outreach program aimed at increasing the participation of fathers and other male role models in the district’s schools. “Take a Father to School Day” is an annual event which invites fathers, grandfathers, and other male role models to spend a day at their child’s school. Since 2007, the number of fathers attending the event has climbed from 3,669 to 5,964 in 2011. The event was founded by Pittsburgh Public Schools’ Board Member Mark Brentley as a “call to action” for men to become more involved in their children’s lives.
ASBJ initiated the Magna Awards in 1995 to recognize school boards for taking bold and innovative steps to improve their educational programs. An independent panel of school board members, administrators, and other educators selected the winners from 300 submissions. This year’s nominations came from 44 states.
In additional to the grand prize winners, these school districts are also being honored:
Winners – Category 1 – under 5,000 enrollment
Balsz Elementary School District #31, Phoenix, Ariz.
Blue Ridge School District, New Milford, Pa.
North Salem Central School District, North Salem, N.Y.
Sanborn Regional School District, Kingston, N.H.
White Pine County School District, Ely, Nev.
Winners – Category 2 – 5,000-20,000 enrollment
Alexandria City Public Schools, Alexandria, Va.
Blue Springs School District, Blue Springs, Mo.
Boone County Schools, Florence, Ky.
Southfield Public Schools, Southfield, Mich.
Southwest Independent School District, San Antonio, Texas
Winners – Category 3 – over 20,000 enrollment
Johnston County Schools, Smithfield, N.C.
Newport News Public Schools, Newport News, Va. – 2 programs
Polk County Public Schools, Bartow, Fla.
School District of Osceola County, Kissimmee, Fla.
Amelia County Public Schools, Amelia Courthouse, Va.
Bridgehampton Union Free School District, Bridgehampton, N.Y.
Lumberton Township Schools, Lumberton, N.J.
Oak Park Unified School District, Oak Park, Calif.
Petersburg City Public Schools, Petersburg, Va.
Clover Park School District, Lakewood, Wash.
Henderson County Schools, Henderson, Ky.
Penn-Harris-Madison School Corporation, Mishawaka, Ind.
Topeka Public Schools, Topeka, Kan.
Williamsburg/James City County Public Schools, Williamsburg, Va.
Fairfax County Public Schools, Falls Church, Va.
Lafayette Parish School System, Lafayette, La.
Peoria Unified School District, Glendale, Ariz.
St. Tammany Parish Public School District, Covington, La.
Sweetwater Union High School District, Chula Vista, Calif.
The 2012 winners will be highlighted in a special supplement to the May issue of ASBJ, and will be formally recognized on Saturday, April 21, at the Best Practices for School Leaders Luncheon, which is part of NSBA’s 72nd Annual Conference.