Success Story

Hanes Magnet School, Winston-Salem/
Forsyth County School District, NC

2013 Dr. Ronald P. Simpson Distinguished Merit Awardee

Hanes Magnet School (HMS) is a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) themed based middle school located in the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School District in North Carolina. Hanes became a magnet school in 2005 and currently enrolls 1,057 kids in grades 6-8, which is a huge increase from its pre-magnet enrollment of around 450. Dr. Kim Morrison, former Director of Federal Programs and Magnet Schools says that the STEM theme has played a big part in this increase in enrollment, as national attention has turned towards these subjects. Hanes is also among the highest performing schools in the district, and was recently honored with eleven consecutive years of expected academic growth in the North Carolina ABC model, and was labeled a North Carolina School of Distinction for its students’ outstanding performance on End-of-Grade tests.

Hanes provides many unique and exciting opportunities for its students to explore their interests in STEM and make connections to the real world. One such program is Project Lead the Way (PLTW), a pre-engineering program that allows students to study topics related to Automation and Robotics, the Magic of Electrons, The Science of Technology, Design and Modeling, Flight and Space, as well as Environmental Science. This program is reinforced by a number of extracurricular activities available to students. Hanes also offers many different STEM clubs including: Science Olympiad, First Lego League (FLL), Team America Rocketry Challenge (TARC), Math Counts, Future City, Odyssey of the Mind, and Technology Student Association (TSA). Melita Wise, the school’s principal, said that about one-third of students at Hanes are involved in at least one after-school club related to STEM. “We’re offering opportunities to our students that just don’t happen at a lot of other schools. We’re showing connections between the seventh grade and the real adult world,” said Wise.

Students are able to continue making real world connections through the partnerships Hanes has set up with numerous organizations. Hanes partners with local institutions of higher education and businesses that provide resources to both students and staff. Currently, Hanes partners with Wake Forest University, Wake Forest Medical School, Cook Medical, Mack/Volvo Trucks, Time Warner Cable, Honda Jet, Tri-STEM, Schneider Electric, B/E Aerospace, and the Chamber of Commerce. As an example, students and staff from Wake Forest University’s Chemistry, Physics, and Computer Science departments provide interactive demonstrations and labs, spend time working with students in afterschool clubs, as well as providing teacher training. Many other organizations provide guest speakers and field experiences for the students.

Hanes students also have access to future ready technology that is incorporated into every classroom, allowing teachers to seamlessly integrate it into their daily instruction. Students have access to three computer labs, a distance learning lab, and digital video cameras. In addition, math classes are equipped with TI-Inspire graphing calculators and Interwrite tablets, which allow students to share handwriting, graphs, and lecture notes to a television for all students to see. This integration of technology is crucial for teachers to successfully implement the Problem-Based Learning (PBL) instructional strategy that is employed by all the teachers at Hanes. PBL is based on the principle of using real world problems as a starting point for the acquisition of new knowledge. For example, students may be asked to design engineering structures in a specific geographical region within certain constraints, such as a bridge connecting two sections of a city. This requires students to conduct significant research as well as consider many factors, such as the geographical region itself, environmental implications, and architectural design in order to successfully solve the problem. The solution in this case is created in Auto Cad, an engineering software program.

Because of its STEM theme, PBL instructional strategy, successful integration of technology, strong parent and community involvement, and its significant partnerships with outside organizations, Hanes has become one of the leading schools in its district, and one deserving of MSA’s highest award, the Dr. Ronald P. Simpson Distinguished Merit Award, which commemorates the organization’s founding member. When Hanes first became a magnet school, it was just the 7th magnet in the district; today there are 17. This serves as a testament of the ability of magnet schools to provide students a quality and engaging education that prepares them for the future. 

Watch this video interview with the school's principal Melita Wise as she talks more about Hanes' magnet program.

Posted July 2013