2014 National Merit Awards 

Magnet Schools of America (MSA) Merit Awards recognize member magnet schools/programs that demonstrate a high commitment to academic standards, curriculum innovation, desegregation/diversity efforts, specialized teaching staffs, and parent and community involvement. Nearly 300 public magnet schools applied for merit awards this year making 2014 especially competitive. There are two categories of merit awards: (1) Magnet Schools of Excellence, the top merit award given to only a select group of magnet schools and (2) Magnet Schools of Distinction, the second highest award of recognition. The highest ranked magnet schools in the Excellence category are eligible to receive MSA’s highest national awards.

  • A.B. Combs Leadership Magnet Elementary (Raleigh, North Carolina) received the Dr. Ronald P. Simpson Distinguished Merit Award, which is named after MSA’s founding member and is sponsored by American Education Solutions, Inc. It is considered the top magnet school award in the nation. Merit Award Abstract
  • High School, Inc. (Hartford, CT) received the inaugural Jeffrey N. Stein National Career Academy Coalition Award, sponsored by Dr. Judith Stein 

2014 National Merit Awardee Profiles

Dr. Ronald P. Simpson Distinguished Award

A.B. Combs Leadership Magnet Elementary School is located in Raleigh, North Carolina and is part of the Wake County Public School System. Combs’ magnet program integrates the philosophies of Dr. Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. The vision of this leadership model is evident in all that happens at A.B. Combs, from student-led conferences to student-written speeches and student goal-setting. Its elements and principles have been replicated in over 1,400 national and international schools. In 2008, Dr. Steven Covey captured the success and impact of A.B. Combs in his book, The Leader in Me, making A.B. Combs a household name.

Dr. Donald R. Waldrip Award 

Advanced Technologies Academy is a high school located in Las Vegas, Nevada and is part of the Clark County School District. Aligning with the theme of Academics plus Technology, the mission of A-TECH is to empower a diverse student body to succeed in a competitive world by promoting academic concepts, technological skills, and ethical behavior. Technology and academics are infused throughout the day at A-TECH and Project-Based Learning is consistently used in both program and core area classes. Senior internships, annual field trips, competitions, and job shadowing also allow students to see and experience the correlation between classroom learning and the real world.

American Education Solutions, Inc. Secondary Magnet School of Merit

Pathways Academy of Technology and Design is located in Harford, CT and is part of Hartford Public Schools. Pathways Academy’s instructional approach is founded on a philosophy that combines Project Based Learning and Technology Integration. Its students acquire technological and critical thinking skills and develop a sense of personal and social responsibility that enables them to successfully compete in the rapidly changing world. With solid increases in both diversity and academic performance, as well as significant progress in eliminating the achievement gap, Pathways is a truly successful magnet school.

DKH Consulting Services, Inc. Elementary Magnet School of Merit Award

Collinswood Language Academy is located in Charlotte, North Carolina and is part of Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools. It has a dynamic learning environment that celebrates cultural diversity and has earned district, state, national, and international recognition. Collinswood was the first K-5 Dual Language Program in North Carolina and its students have achieved exceptional academic success over the past seventeen years. Students not only listen, speak, read and write in English and Spanish, they score among the highest in their district on state tests. This can be attributed to highly effective teachers from fourteen different Latin American countries, Spain, and the United States.

Hogan Lovells – New and Emerging Magnet School of Merit (Program within a School)

Legette Blythe Elementary School is an International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme in Charlotte, NC and is part of Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools. It seeks to create globally aware citizens who are active, compassionate, life-long learners. Twenty-two of its staff members hold National Board Certification and over two-thirds have been trained through IB professional development. Since implementing its IB Programme the school has seen gains in student achievement and exceeded growth as a school. 

Hogan Lovells – New and Emerging Magnet School of Merit (Whole School)

Roland Park Magnet School for International Studies is the first K-8 program in Hillsborough County Public Schools to offer both the International Baccalaureate (IB) Primary Years Programme (PYP) and Middle Years Programme (MYP). Located in Tampa, Florida it was opened as a magnet school in 2011. It strives to educate the whole child—academically, emotionally, socially, and physically with the goal of creating lifelong learners. Since becoming a magnet school, Roland Park’s students have made significant gains in reading, math, and science. The school’s math program is also now scoring on par with the traditionally top scoring schools in its district.

MSA Presidents Merit Award of Magnet School Excellence

Diamond Path Elementary School of International Studies is located in Apple Valley, MN and is part of Independent School District 196. It is a whole-school magnet where students develop an understanding of the world’s people, places, wonders, and challenges. The international studies theme is woven into classroom learning throughout the core curriculum areas of literacy, math, science, and social studies. Since becoming a magnet school, Diamond Path achievement scores in math and reading have been above state and district averages. 

Jeffrey N. Stein National Career Academy Coalition Award

High School, Inc. is a four-year college prep school for Hartford Public School students in grades 9-12 who are interested in pursuing careers in the insurance and financial services industries. High School, Inc. is part of the National Academy Foundation (NAF), a national non-profit organization with over 550 academies in 40 states and the District of Columbia. The school opened its doors in August 2009 with 200 students in grades nine and ten and has expanded to 400 students. Under the leadership of Principal Terrell Hill, High School, Inc. has made incredible gains and has been recognized nationally for the work it’s doing with students.


In addition to the top national merit awards, we are also pleased to announce the 2014 Merit Schools of Excellence and Distinction. These magnet schools were recognized during our national conference in Hartford, CT, May 15-18, 2014. 

1) Schools of Excellence

2) Schools of Distinction