Virginia School Boards Association
Alexandria, Va. (April 3, 2013) – Albemarle County Public Schools in Charlottesville has been named a grand prize winner, Roanoke City Public Schools has been selected as a first place winner, and Hanover County Public Schools and Arlington Public Schools earned honorable mentions in the 19th annual Magna Awards program sponsored by the National School Boards Association's (NSBA) American School Board Journal (ASBJ).
Albemarle County Public Schools is being honored as the grand prize winner in the 5,000 to 20,000 student 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.
Roanoke City Public Schools is being honored in the 5,000 to 20,000 enrollment category for its Great Debaters program which aims to boost the achievement of Westside Elementary School students. In addition to hiring a new principal and implementing new programs to engage students, a debate team was formed. The Great Debaters program teaches students analysis, argumentation, and public speaking skills. The Great Debaters have galvanized the community around the school and students' grades and test scores have increased.
The Arlington (Va.) Public Schools earned an honorable mention in the over 20,000 enrollment category for their Connected Families initiative. The district created a computer loaner program and worked with local Internet service providers to give devices and an Internet connection to those students who lacked them.
Hanover County Public Schools is being honored in the 5,000 to 20,000 enrollment category for their program at Pole Green Elementary School called, The Village Project. The program involves the elementary school with thirteen "villages": nursing homes, shelters, food banks, Goodwill, and other organizations that have been supported by the school through collections and other service projects. The program engages elementary students in real world experiences through community service and incorporates 11 Virginia Standards of Learning. Students participate in learning groups for reading, writing, and communication skills throughout the villages.
The Magna Awards, supported by Odeon, 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.
Joining Albemarle County Public Schools as this year's grand prize winners are the Derry Township School District, in Hershey, Pa., and the Fontana (Calif.) Unified School District. 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.
All of the 2013 Magna winners will be formally recognized at the conference on Saturday, April 13, at the Best Practices for School Leaders Luncheon. The 2013 winners will also be highlighted in a special section of the May issue of ASBJ. The districts' winning entries will be posted on the Magna Awards website and added to the program's searchable best practices database, both of which can be found at www.asbj.com/magna.
"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."
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.