2015 National Merit Awards 

National merit awards are given to magnet schools that demonstrate a commitment to high academic standards, curriculum innovation, successful desegregation and diversity efforts, and strong parent and community involvement. To be considered for a merit award, member schools must submit an application that is scored by a panel of educators. These 208 public magnet schools and programs located in 14 states are recognized for their commitment to high academic standards, curriculum innovation, school diversity, specialized teaching staffs, and parent and community engagement.

This year 319 schools applied for national merit awards making 2015 incredibly 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

  • Breakthrough Magnet School (Hartford Public Schools, CT) received the Dr. Ronald P. Simpson Distinguished Merit Award, which is named after MSA’s founding member. It is sponsored by American Education Solutions, Inc.
  • CREC Museum Academy Magnet School (Capitol Region Education Council, CT) received the Presidents Magnet School of Merit Award of Excellence sponsored by Magnet Schools of America
  • Cotswold Elementary (Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, North Carolina) received the Elementary Magnet School Merit Award of Excellence sponsored by American Educations Solutions, Inc.


2015 National Merit Awardee Profiles

Dr. Ronald P. Simpson Distinguished Award - America Education Solutions, Inc.

Breakthrough Magnet is one of Hartford’s highest performing schools. Its curriculum is centered on character development and B.R.I.C.K. which stands for breakthroughs, responsibility, integrity, contribute, and knowledge. In all grades, students participate in gardening, Paideia seminars, mural painting, and a school-wide book club called SERIEous Readers. Breakthrough implements an aspect of community service into the school that requires middle school students to complete a total of sixty community service hours. Every classroom also performs a community service project to help support “education on the planet.”

Dr. Donald R. Waldrip Award  - Jack Kent Cooke Foundation

Brentwood Elementary aims to provide all students with enriched educational opportunities through Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (S.T.E.M.), with a focus on engineering through inquiry and challenge-based learning. Brentwood uses MakerSpace to meet their educational goals, which is a collective environment and extension of the classroom. It contains creation ready materials like recyclables and craft materials that give students a hands-on problem-solving, creative experience. It also partners with The Engineering Place at North Carolina State University to facilitate challenges in STEM and to allow students from the university to assist in the classroom.

Presidents Magnet School Merit Award of Excellence Magnet Schools of America

The CREC Museum Academy in Connecticut emphasizes that the incorporation of the arts across the curriculum along with visual and hands-on practice is the key to developing life-long problem solving and critical thinking skills. At the Museum Academy, students participate in monthly museum visits  connected to themed units of study to view and experience related artwork, science exhibits, historical artifacts, and more in order to enhance content knowledge.

Elementary Magnet School of Merit Award of Excellence - American Education Solutions, Inc.

Cotswold Elementary in Charlotte, NC is an International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme. It prepares students to become active, caring, lifelong learners who demonstrate respect for themselves and others. Cotswold’s program focuses on the development of the whole child as an inquirer, both within and beyond the classroom. The school has also implemented the technique of the flipped classroom in the upper grades, where content is delivered through video or reading at home, thus allowing for time in the classroom to be devoted to application and synthesis of material.

Elementary Magnet School of Merit Award of Excellence - Jack Kent Cooke Foundation

Wendell Creative Arts and Science Magnet Elementary is located in a rural community on the outskirts of Wake County, NC. The school's mission is to educate each student to become a high achieving, life-long learner through exploration, creativity and arts integration. Instruction is based on Howard Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligences, where students are given multiple pathways to learn. As a Creative Arts and Science Magnet School, Wendell has shown strong growth and steady achievement in reading and math, with large increases in Science achievement. It has also been a North Carolina School of High Growth for the past four years.

New and Emerging Magnet School Merit Award of Excellence - Hogan Lovells, LLP

Howard Middle School's Visual and Performing Arts magnet was founded in 2011 and is the only middle school fine arts program within a public middle school in Orange County, Florida. All magnet students at Howard are enrolled in advanced core courses that integrate the arts into a rigorous curriculum and provide enhanced opportunities for students to prepare for high school and college. With a magnet emphasis in the Visual and Performing Arts, students are able to explore more than 30 different stimulating classes in all facets of the fine arts. Students are also provided with many opportunities to participate in performances, competitions, and exhibits.

In addition to the top national merit awards, we are also pleased to announce the 2015 Merit Schools of Excellence and Distinction. These magnet schools were recognized during our national conference in Raleigh, NC, April 22-25, 2015. 


1) Schools of Excellence

2) Schools of Distinction

3) Press Release