Articles tagged with Magna Awards

Schools need diversity, not conformity, says Sir Ken Robinson

Sir Ken Robinson at NSBA's annual conference

Our schools no longer serve our children, according to creativity expert Sir Ken Robinson. “Our current system is based on the conformity principal,” he said. “But human life thrives on diversity.”

Robinson was the keynote speaker at NSBA’s second general session on Sunday. He told attendees that we are inherently diverse, born with “deep talents.” However, in schools, “we’ve become preoccupied with conformity.”

Our school systems were developed in the Industrial Revolution to meet the industrial economy, he said. “Schools’ DNA has the rhythms and pulses of industrial manufacturing.”

Our school system’s industrial roots are the reason that schools are more interested in conformity than creativity. Compliance — another industrial virtue — is also prized by schools. “Kids don’t come in standard shapes and their minds don’t either. Our real resource is the creative capacity of its people. Life is not linear, it’s organic.”

Robinson grew up in Liverpool, and he talked about the rise and fall of British Empire, noting that it was once the most power nation in the world. No one could have foreseen the events – including two world wars – that lead to its demise as a superpower.

“What is true for humans is true for communities, empires, countries, and the planet. Humans live in a flow and flux. Every empire goes down.”

“Empires grow and fall on basis of creativity, motivation, and passion, just like humans,” he continued. “It happens to companies, too.”

Robinson used the example of Kodak, who invented home photography by making a camera that anyone could use. It had a hugely booming business, but invested in film, a mistake in the age of digital photography.

“They’ve gone out of business – had their lunch stolen by Instagram,” he said. “They didn’t go out of business because people stopped taking pictures.”

School boards are a pivotal role in changing from the old industrial model. “Your role in stewarding and taking care of public education could not be more important. There’s no more important role for the future of country,” he said. “The great challenge we all face now is to reframe how we do it.”

Robinson said that instead of the factory metaphor, a better metaphor to embrace is farming. “In agriculture, you don’t make plants grow, you create conditions for growth. Plants grow themselves,” he said. Farming focuses on the soil, manufacturing focuses on the yield. Standardization is about the yield and competition. Children flourish if conditions of growth are right, if they feel loved, and if teachers are empowered and encouraged to learn, then we will have conditions for growth.

“School boards have an essential role here to create the right conditions,” he said. “It’s not your job to do it for them. You create the conditions for teaching and learning to flourish. We can’t guarantee what the future will look like. We never could.”

Also at the second General Session, the grand prize-winning Magna Award districts were honored by President of Sodexo School Services Steve Dunmore. For more about the Magna Awards, go to www.asbj.com/magna.

 

Kathleen Vail|April 6th, 2014|Categories: NSBA Annual Conference 2014|Tags: , , , |

Video: 2014 Magna Awards grand prize winners honored at NSBA’s Annual Conference

2014 Magna Awards

2014 Magna Awards

St. Charles Parish Public Schools in Luling, La., Orleans/Niagara Board of Cooperative Educational Services in Medina, N.Y., and Kent School District in Kent, Wash., were honored today at National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) Annual Conference as grand prize winners in the 20th annual Magna Awards program sponsored by NSBA’s American School Board Journal. The Magna Awards recognize school boards for taking bold and innovative steps to advance public education.

The Magna Awards, supported by Sodexo, honors districts across the country for outstanding programs that advance student learning and encourage community involvement in schools. An independent panel of school board members, administrators, and other educators selected the winners from nearly 250 submissions.

Watch the video that was shown at today’s General Session at Annual Conference profiling the grand prize winning districts:

Details on the 2014 grand prizes winning programs:

• The Orleans/Niagara Board of Cooperative Educational Services, in Medina, N.Y., earned the grand prize in the under 5,000 enrollment category for its Literacy Zone/Men’s Cooking Class. The program helped the board meet its goal of being the premier provider of innovative solutions for its component school districts and their communities. At a monthly luncheon of the Men’s Cooking Class, the adult students—many of whom were military veterans—decided to help veterans through the class’s cooking and by raising community awareness of veterans’ needs. The class was part of the area’s Literacy Zone, which provides adult education and is run by the Orleans/Niagara Board of Cooperative Educational Services. The class’s culminating event for veterans may have taken place on one day—July 5, 2013—but their efforts continue to accrue benefits for all involved.

St. Charles Parish Public Schools in Luling, La., is being honored as the grand prize winner in the 5,000 to 20,000 enrollment category for its Arts Awareness Festival, which drew inspiration from the fabled New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. The one-day festival, now in its fifth year, showcases the district’s theater, music, dance, and visual arts. Like the Jazz Festival, it features multiple stages with performances going on simultaneously. Students in kindergarten through 12th grade participate in the festival. The event raises awareness and builds support among parents and community member for the district’s arts programs. The school board views it as a vital way to connect schools and community.

• In the over 20,000 enrollment category, the Kent School District in Kent, Wash., is the grand prize winner for its iGrad—Individualized Graduation and Degree Program. A partnership between Kent and Green River Community College, the program helps 16- to 21-year-olds earn high school diplomas, GEDs, college credits, or professional certification. Located in a shopping center, iGrad offers students a flexible schedule—students can attend in three-hour blocks in the morning, afternoon, or evening—and individualized learning plans. This program is the result of the school board’s goal of high achievement for all students. The Kent School District has also received Honorable Mention in this year’s Magna Awards for another of its programs, Kinder to College.

 

 

Alexis Rice|April 6th, 2014|Categories: NSBA Annual Conference 2014, Student Achievement|Tags: |

Author tells of immigrant children’s journey at Best Practices for School Leaders luncheon

Magna Awards 2014

Sonia Nazario, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of Enrique’s Journey told the audience at the Best Practices for School Leaders Luncheon Saturday about her own journey, and the journeys of undocumented and immigrant children.

Nazario chronicled her childhood as the daughter of two immigrants, whose father died when she was 13 and whose mother moved the family back to their native Argentina after his death.

She compared her determination – to do well in college and become a journalist against all odds – to the determination of the children in her book. Those children took perilous, heart-breaking trips thousands of miles from their homes in Central America north to the United States – to be reunited with the mothers who’d left them behind so they could find work and feed their families.

“One in four children in the U.S. is an immigrant or the child of immigrants,” she said. “Those children are in your classrooms and in your districts.”

Nazario suggested ways that schools could help immigrant children, especially the ones who have traveled alone to find their parents and may be scarred emotionally or physically from the journey. In addition to having depression and trauma issues, many have never been to school or only in school for a short time. “They don’t know how to hold a pencil or scissors,” she said.

Their parents may be illiterate, hold several jobs, or live in crowded conditions where the children can’t find quiet places to do their homework.

Newcomer schools, where students are taught bilingually and are eased into school during a transition period can help, she says. Also, these schools help parents acclimate and understand their roles in helping their students in schools.

More after-school programs for immigrant students and their parents would help, she says. “And pass the Dream Act,” which gives citizenship to children of undocumented parents, she said. “They didn’t break the law. They should have a pathway to legalization.”

Also at the luncheon, the 2014 Magna Award winning districts were honored. For more information about the Magna winners and the awards program to www.asbj.com/magna. The Magna Awards are sponsored Sodexo.

Kathleen Vail|April 5th, 2014|Categories: Food Service, Immigrants, NSBA Annual Conference 2014, NSBA Publications, NSBA Recognition Programs|Tags: , , , , |

School districts in Louisiana, New York, and Washington earn grand prize honors in 2014 Magna Awards

2014 Magna Awards

2014 Magna Awards were announced on March 5, 2014

St. Charles Parish Public Schools in Luling, La., Orleans/Niagara Board of Cooperative Educational Services in Medina, N.Y., and Kent School District in Kent, Wash., have been named the grand prize winners in the 20th annual Magna Awards program sponsored by the National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) American School Board Journal (ASBJ). The Magna Awards recognize school boards for taking bold and innovative steps to advance public education.

The Magna Awards, supported by Sodexo, honors districts across the country for outstanding programs that advance student learning and encourage community involvement in schools. An independent panel of school board members, administrators, and other educators selected the winners from nearly 250 submissions.

“The Magna Awards showcase outstanding models for local school board leadership and school district success to advance student achievement,” said Thomas J. Gentzel, Executive Director of NSBA. “We commend Sodexo for their continuing support of the Magna Awards to highlight the great achievements happening in public education.”

This year’s three grand prize, 15 first place, and 15 honorable mention winners were selected from three enrollment categories: under 5,000 students, 5,000 to 20,000 students, and over 20,000 students. Each of the grand prize-winning school districts will receive a $5,000 contribution from Sodexo during a special presentation at NSBA Annual Conference, to be held April 5-7 in New Orleans.

“Just like the school districts recognized in the annual Magna Awards program, Sodexo supports student achievement,” said Steve Dunmore, President of Sodexo Education-Schools. “As a partner in education and a company committed to improving the quality of life for students, Sodexo realizes that it is vitally important to call attention to and support school districts that go above and beyond to enrich the learning environment for its students. Therefore, we are proud to sponsor the Magna Awards again this year.”

Details on the 2014 grand prizes winning programs:

• The Orleans/Niagara Board of Cooperative Educational Services, in Medina, N.Y., earned the grand prize in the under 5,000 enrollment category for its Literacy Zone/Men’s Cooking Class. The program helped the board meet its goal of being the premier provider of innovative solutions for its component school districts and their communities. At a monthly luncheon of the Men’s Cooking Class, the adult students—many of whom were military veterans—decided to help veterans through the class’s cooking and by raising community awareness of veterans’ needs. The class was part of the area’s Literacy Zone, which provides adult education and is run by the Orleans/Niagara Board of Cooperative Educational Services. The class’s culminating event for veterans may have taken place on one day—July 5, 2013—but their efforts continue to accrue benefits for all involved.

St. Charles Parish Public Schools in Luling, La., is being honored as the grand prize winner in the 5,000 to 20,000 enrollment category for its Arts Awareness Festival, which drew inspiration from the fabled New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. The one-day festival, now in its fifth year, showcases the district’s theater, music, dance, and visual arts. Like the Jazz Festival, it features multiple stages with performances going on simultaneously. Students in kindergarten through 12th grade participate in the festival. The event raises awareness and builds support among parents and community member for the district’s arts programs. The school board views it as a vital way to connect schools and community.

• In the over 20,000 enrollment category, the Kent School District in Kent, Wash., is the grand prize winner for its iGrad—Individualized Graduation and Degree Program. A partnership between Kent and Green River Community College, the program helps 16- to 21-year-olds earn high school diplomas, GEDs, college credits, or professional certification. Located in a shopping center, iGrad offers students a flexible schedule—students can attend in three-hour blocks in the morning, afternoon, or evening—and individualized learning plans. This program is the result of the school board’s goal of high achievement for all students. The Kent School District has also received Honorable Mention in this year’s Magna Awards for another of its programs, Kinder to College.

The 2014 winners are highlighted in a special section in the April issue of ASBJ and will be formally recognized on Saturday, April 5, at the Best Practices for School Leaders Luncheon, which is part of NSBA’s 74th Annual Conference.

In addition to the ASBJ special section, the districts’ winning entries will be posted on the Magna Awards website and added to the program’s searchable best practices database. Both can be found at www.asbj.com/magna.

2014 Magna Award Winners:

Grand prize winners:
Orleans/Niagara Board of Cooperative Educational Services, Medina, N.Y. – less than 5,000 students
St. Charles Parish Public Schools, Luling, La. – 5,000 to 20,000 students
Kent School District, Kent, Wash. – more than 20,000 students

First place winners – under 5,000 students:
Indian Creek CUSD #425, Shabbona, Ill.
Leyden Community High School District #212, Franklin Park, Ill.
Maplewood Richmond Heights School District, Maplewood, Mo.
Murphy School District No. 21, Phoenix, Ariz.
White Pine County School District, Ely, Nev.

First place winners – 5,000 to 20,000 students:
Carmel Clay Schools, Carmel, Ind.
Kannapolis City Schools, Kannapolis, N.C.
Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools, Nashville, N.C.
Piscataway School District, Piscataway, N.J.
Topeka Public Schools, Topeka, Kan.

First place winners – over 20,000 students:
Lexington County School District One, Lexington, S.C.
St. Tammany Parish Public School System, Covington, La.
Vancouver Public Schools, Vancouver, Wash.
Virginia Beach City Public Schools, Virginia Beach, Va.
Yonkers Public Schools, Yonkers,, N.Y.

Honorable mentions – under 5,000 students:
East Irondequoit Central School District, Rochester, N.Y.
Elk Mound Area School District, Elk Mound, Wis.
Middlesex County Public Schools, Saluda, Va.
Phoenix-Talent Schools, Phoenix, Ore.
Seaman Unified School District #345, Topeka, Kan.

Honorable mentions – 5,000 to 20,000 students:
Caesar Rodney School District, Wyoming, Del.
Danville Public Schools, Danville, Va.
Frederick County Public Schools, Winchester, Va.
Harrisonburg City School, Harrisonburg, Va.
Michigan City Area Schools, Michigan City, Ind.

Honorable mentions – over 20,000 students:
Arlington Public Schools, Arlington, Va.
Horry County Schools, Conway, S.C.
Kent School District, Kent, Wash.
Newport News Public Schools, Newport News, Va.
Spotsylvania County Public Schools, Fredericksburg, Va.

Alexis Rice|March 5th, 2014|Categories: School Boards, Student Achievement, Student Engagement|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Education Talk Radio highlights outstanding school district programs through the Magna Awards

The National School Boards Association’s American School Board Journal’s (ASBJ) Magna Awards, were highlighted this week on Education Talk Radio.

Kathleen Vail, Editor in Chief for ASBJ; Gregory Yost, Sodexo’s Manager of Public Relations; Bruce Hancock, the Vice President of the Board of Directors for the Derry Township School District, in Hershey, Pa.; and Diantha McKeel, a school board member for Albemarle County Public Schools in Charlottesville, Va. discussed the Magna Awards and school district success. Derry Township School District and  Albemarle County Public Schools were both grand prize Magna Awards winners in 2013.

Listen to the show:

Find Additional Education Podcasts with EduTalk on BlogTalkRadio

 

In 2013, the Derry Township School District, earned the Magna Awards grand prize in the under 5,000 enrollment category for its COCOA Principles program which aims to prepare students to be global Derry Township School District citizens. COCOA Principles, which stands for Community Opportunity Citizenship Ownership Academics, has encouraged the entire community, not just students, to be more inclusive, respectful, and responsible citizens. Students seen reflecting the program’s principles are nominated for awards, and high school graduation projects must identify the COCOA principle the student is modeling.

In 2013, Albemarle County Public Schools was honored as the Magna Awards grand prize winner in the 5,000 to 20,000 enrollment category for M-Cubed: Math, Men and Mission, a program developed to improve the academic achievement of African-American male students and encourage them to enroll in higher level high school math classes. The program starts with a two-week summer academy for upper elementary and middle school students but extends year-round with mentoring and academic support from the 100 Black Men of Central Virginia, a community group.

The Magna Awards, supported by Sodexo, recognize districts across the country for outstanding programs that advance student learning and encourage community involvement in schools. Each of the grand prize winning school districts receives a $4,000 contribution from Sodexo.

Learn more about the Magna Awards and nominate your program on ASBJ‘s website. The deadline is Oct. 31, 2013 for nominations for the 2014 Magna Awards.

Also check out the searchable Magna Awards Best Practices Database, where you can browse through past Magna winners and other high-scoring programs for innovative best practices, proven and practical solutions, and new ideas. New programs that receive high scores from the Magna judges.

Alexis Rice|September 19th, 2013|Categories: American School Board Journal, Governance, Leadership, School Boards|Tags: , , , , |

ASBJ’s 2014 Magna Awards open for nominations

The American School Board Journal’s Magna Awards honors exceptional school programs created by school boards each year. The program, which is sponsored by Sodexo School Services, is now accepting nominations for its 2014 awards.

The deadline for submissions is October 31, and all applications must be submitted online. Categories are divided by district enrollment: Under 5,000, 5,000-20,000, and over 20,000 students. School districts in the United States and Virgin Islands that are members of their state school boards associations are eligible. Please also read the Magna information page for tips on making your nomination and  information about Magna and the judging process, nomination criteria, contacts, guidelines for backup materials, and answers to frequently asked questions.

The awards have been given since 1989, and are designed to showcase replicable programs that help improve student achievement and inspire healthy lifestyles and engagement in local schools.

You can also use the Magna Best Practices Database to search for winning programs  Learn more about the 2013 winners– Pennsylvania’s Derry Township School District, Virginia’s Albemarle County Public Schools, and California’s Fontana Unified School District–in this video or on the resource page.

 

 

 

Joetta Sack-Min|August 16th, 2013|Categories: American School Board Journal, Announcements, Board governance|Tags: , , |

2013 Magna Award honors school districts for outstanding programs

Pennsylvania’s Derry Township School District, Virginia’s Albemarle County Public Schools, and California’s Fontana Unified School District have been named the grand prize winners in the 19th annual Magna Awards program sponsored by the National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) American School Board Journal (ASBJ).

The Magna Awards, supported by Sodexo, 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: under 5,000 students, 5,000 to 20,000 students, and over 20,000 students. Each of the grand prize winning school districts will receive a $4,000 contribution from Sodexo on April 14, during Sunday’s General Session at NSBA’s 73rd Annual Conference in San Diego.

“The Magna Awards showcase the great work going on in local school districts across the country to increase student achievement and success,” said Thomas J. Gentzel, Executive Director of NSBA. “This year’s Magna Awards recipients are national models that school leaders can learn from. NSBA commends Sodexo for its continuing support of this program and its goal of highlighting outstanding public school achievements.”

“Just like the school districts recognized in the annual Magna Awards program, Sodexo supports student achievement,” said Steve Dunmore, President of Sodexo Education-Schools. “As a partner in education, Sodexo realizes that it is vitally important to call attention to and support school districts that go above and beyond to enrich the learning environment for its students.  Therefore, we are proud to sponsor the Magna Awards again this year.”

Here is information on the grand prize winners:

  • The Derry Township School District, in Hershey, Pa., earned the grand prize in the under 5,000 enrollment category for its COCOA Principles program which aims to prepare students to be global

    Derry Township School District

    citizens. COCOA Principles, which stands for Community Opportunity Citizenship Ownership Academics, has encouraged the entire community, not just students, to be more inclusive, respectful, and responsible citizens. Students seen reflecting the program’s principles are nominated for awards, and high school graduation projects must identify the COCOA principle the student is modeling.

 

  • Albemarle County Public Schools, in Charlottesville, Va., is being honored as the grand prize winner in the 5,000 to 20,000 enrollment category for M-Cubed: Math, Men and Mission, a program developed to improve the academic achievement of African-American male students and encourage them to enroll in higher level high school math classes. The program starts with a two-week summer academy for upper elementary and middle school students but extends year-round with mentoring and academic support from the 100 Black Men of Central Virginia, a community group.

    Albemarle County Public Schools

 

  • In the over 20,000 enrollment category, the Fontana Unified School District, in Fontana, Calif., is the grand prize winner. The Fontana Leadership Intervention Program (FLIP) focuses on keeping middle and high school students in school and out of the juvenile justice system. FLIP, which is run and funded by a non-profit corporation, offers students classes covering topics such as violence prevention, drug and alcohol resistance, and ethics. Students referred to the program also participate in community projects and their parents must take parenting classes. Since the program’s inception there has been a significant decline in behavior issues, including truancy and alcohol and drugs incidents, at a high school, and bullying incidents at a middle school.

    Fontana Unified School District

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 nearly 300 submissions.

The 2013 winners are highlighted in a special section in the May issue of ASBJ and will be formally recognized on Saturday, April 13, at the Best Practices for School Leaders Luncheon, which is part of NSBA’s 73rd Annual Conference.

In addition to the ASBJ special section, the districts’ winning entries will be posted on the Magna Awards website and added to the program’s searchable best practices database. Both can be found at www.asbj.com/magna.

2013 Magna Award Winners:

Grand prize winners:

Derry Township School District, Hershey, Pa. less than 5,000 students,

Albemarle County Public Schools, Charlottesville, Va. 5,000 to 20,000 students

Fontana Unified School District, Fontana, Calif. more than 20,000 students

First place winners – under 5,000 students

Bergenfield Public Schools, Bergenfield, N.J.

Eminence Independent Schools, Eminence, Ky.

Northwest Arctic Borough School District, Kotzebue, Alaska

Richmond Community Schools, Richmond, Ind.

Upper St. Clair School District, Upper St. Clair, Pa.

First place winners – 5,000 to 20,000 students

Granville County Schools, Oxford, N.C.

Kearney Public Schools, Kearney, Neb.

Livingston Public Schools, Livingston, N.J.

Roanoke City Public Schools, Roanoke, Va.

Tuscaloosa City Schools, Tuscaloosa, Ala.

First place winners – over 20,000 students

Alamance-Burlington School System, Burlington, N.C. – 2 programs

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, Charlotte, N.C.

Fulton County School System, Atlanta, Ga.

McAllen Independent School District, McAllen, Texas

Honorable mentions – under 5,000 students

Columbia Heights Public Schools, Columbia Heights, Minn.

Gilford School District, Gilford, N.H.

Jenkins Independent School District, Jenkins, Ky.

Monadnock Regional School District, Supervisory Administrative Unit 93, Swanzey, N.H.

Taylor County School District, Campbellsville, Ky.

Honorable mentions – 5,000 to 20,000 students

Cave Creek Unified School District #93, Cave Creek, Ariz.

Creighton School District #14, Phoenix, Ariz.

Hanover County Public Schools, Ashland, Va.

Kenton County School District, Fort Wright, Ky.

Township High School District 214, Arlington Heights, Ill.

Honorable mentions – over 20,000 students

Arlington Public Schools, Arlington, Va.

Brevard Public Schools, Viera, Fla.

Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District, Houston, Texas

Houston Independent School District, Houston, Texas

Richardson Independent School District, Richardson, Texas

Joetta Sack-Min|April 3rd, 2013|Categories: American School Board Journal, Announcements|Tags: , |

Nominate your district for a Magna Award – deadline extended to Nov. 9

The Magna Awards 2013 program is extending its deadline for nominations to November 9 because of the widespread power outages in the Mid-Atlantic, Northeast, and eastern portion of the Midwest following the recent storms in those regions.

The Magna Awards is a national recognition program co-sponsored by the American School Board Journal, NSBA, and Sodexo School Services that honors school board best practices and innovative programs that advance student learning. Three grand prize winners each receive a $4,000 contribution from Sodexo.

Learn more about the Magna Awards and nominate your program.

 

Joetta Sack-Min|November 1st, 2012|Categories: American School Board Journal, Announcements, NSBA Publications, NSBA Recognition Programs|Tags: |

Magna Awards featured on Education Talk Radio

If you’re planning to nominate one of your school district’s programs for American School Board Journal’s (ASBJ) Magna Awards, be sure to listen to Pittsburgh Public Schools Board Member Mark Brentley talk about his district’s experiences as a Magna Awards grand prize winner. He joined by ASBJ Publisher Glenn Cook and Sodexo’s National Wellness Director Roxanne Moore on Education Talk Radio.

Pittsburgh Public Schools, was a 2012 Magna Awards grand prize winner in the more than 20,000 enrollment category for their “Take a Father to School Day” outreach program aimed at increasing the participation of fathers and other male role models in their schools.

Listen to Education Talk Radio on Blog Talk Radio

The Magna Awards is a national recognition program co-sponsored by ASBJ,  National School Boards Association, and Sodexo School Services that honors school board best practices and innovative programs that advance student learning. Magna nominations are judged according to three enrollment categories (under 5,000 enrollment; 5,000-20,000 enrollment; and over 20,000 enrollment). One Grand Prize Winner in each category receives a $4,000 contribution from Sodexo School Services. There are five additional winners and five honorable mention winners within each enrollment category.

Learn more about the Magna Awards and nominate your program on ASBJ’s website. The deadline is Oct. 31, 2012 for nominations for the 2013 Magna Awards.

Alexis Rice|October 12th, 2012|Categories: American School Board Journal, Board governance, Urban Schools|Tags: , , , , , , |

2012 Magna Awards honors Missouri, New York, and Pennsylvania school districts

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.

Honorable Mentions
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.

In addition to the ASBJ supplement, all honrees will be posted on the Magna Awards website and added to the program’s searchable best practices database.

Alexis Rice|April 12th, 2012|Categories: American School Board Journal, Board governance, Educational Technology, NSBA Annual Conference 2012, NSBA Publications, NSBA Recognition Programs, School Boards, Urban Schools|Tags: , , |
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