Magna Awards

Wahl: Don't be afraid to fail

There’s growth on the border of chaos and order.

Erik Wahl, graffiti artist, author, and entrepreneur, gave attendees of the School Leaders Luncheon on Saturday at NSBA’s annual conference a taste of what that concept means. Wahl announced that as we strive to get away from standardized tests, keynote talks should no longer be standardized either.


Kansas City Kansas Public Schools
Kansas City, Kansas

Diploma+ provides clear expectations for all, pre-K through 12th grade, along with a promise to students, parents, and the community. It has allowed the district to align all work around a single focus: college and career preparation. The key indicators include strong literacy and academic skills at elementary school, high-school-ready benchmarks at middle school, and Diploma+ benchmarks at high school.

The Un-Initiative

Henrico County Public Schools
Henrico, Virginia

The school board and superintendent asked all current employees to submit ideas on things they thought the district could stop doing and still be an efficient and effective organization. This program created a way to make the best possible use of the resources, while involving the frontline employees who best understand how to increase their own job efficiency. These ideas are saving staff time and in some cases, money, while also contributing to the district’s history of academic excellence.

JA Inspire

Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District
Houston, Texas

The program promotes career awareness for 8,000 eighth-graders, equipping them to make informed choices for mapping out high school coursework, encouraging them to examine postsecondary possibilities, and giving them a vision for a brighter future.


Linda Macias

NKY MakerSpace

Boone County Schools
Florence, Kentucky

This Makerspace is open to all students and their families in Northern Kentucky and includes six stations: make your own, robotics, design, engineering, and video and audio production. There are also spaces outside for large-scale activities. Volunteers from the community and many businesses and nonprofit organizations provide leadership. Many workshops have targeted those who haven’t traditionally gone into STEAM careers, such as girls and Latino students.

Youth Leadership Summit

ABC Unified School District
Cerritos, California

The summit was developed in 2010 to empower the underrepresented secondary students as leaders who were charged with being agents of change by promoting a positive school climate, educating their peers on high-risk behavior interventions, and teaching conflict resolution strategies.


Mary Sieu

Livermore High School Green Engineering Academy

Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District
Livermore, California

The program focuses on careers in clean technology and renewable energy, created to provide students throughout the district with exposure to, and experience in, the fields of engineering and technology. Particular attention is paid to the participation of at-risk students, who might otherwise fall through the cracks academically.

Engaging the School Community via Social Media

Engaging the School Community via Social Media
Collinsville, Virginia

Key goals of the district’s strategic plan included engaging families and the community to ensure open communication and student success. Sharing student successes with the school community via Facebook, Twitter, and blogs has led to greater interaction and support for programs and school activities from families and school community partners.

E Pluribus Unum: Out of Many, One

Encinitas Union School District
Encinitas, California

This program provides a foundation of understanding highlighting how the rule of law, case law, court systems, and current events have impacted civil rights and responsibilities. By engaging students at a young age, within multileveled, multiperspective units, they discover the value of civic involvement and responsibility.

The GROW Program

Craven County Schools
New Bern, North Carolina

The program builds the leadership capacity of teacher-leaders designed to identify, recruit, and develop a diverse pool of future school leaders. Program implementation included 10 monthly hands-on, competency-based sessions with authentic opportunities to lead, make mistakes, and grow the candidates. More than 40 percent of participants have transitioned to assistant principalships and 32 percent are now teacher-leaders.


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