Three School Districts Earn Top Honors in 2017 Magna Awards

National award program recognizes innovation and excellence in public schools
March 17, 2017

Alexandria, Va. (March 17, 2017) – Upper St. Clair School District, in Upper St. Clair, Pennsylvania; Piscataway Township Schools, in Piscataway, New Jersey; and Vancouver Public Schools, in Vancouver, Washington have been named the grand prize winners in the 23rd annual Magna Awards program.  

Sponsored by the National School Boards Association’s (NSBA’s) flagship magazine, American School Board Journal (ASBJ), the Magna Awards recognize school districts and their leaders for taking bold and innovative steps to improve the lives of students and their communities. The Magna Awards are supported by Sodexo, a leader in delivering sustainable, integrated facilities management and food service operations.

“Creativity and innovation are needed to help students realize their full potential,” said Thomas J. Gentzel, NSBA Executive Director and CEO. “The Magna Award-winning districts are prime examples of how public schools all over the country are working to give students a high-quality education and life.”

This year’s three grand prize, 15 first place, and 15 honorable mention winners were selected by an independent panel of school board members, administrators, and other educators from more than 200 submissions in three enrollment categories: under 5,000 students, 5,000 to 20,000 students, and over 20,000 students.

The grand prize winning programs:

  • The under 5,000 enrollment category: SHOP@USC (Showing How Opportunity Pays at Upper St. Clair) is a pioneering, student-run business, which operates through the collaboration between high school students with significant disabilities and their same-age peers without disabilities. Within SHOP, students produce and sell greeting cards, business cards, signs/banners, laser-engraved items, and USC spirit wear merchandise. Beyond the work training opportunities, the program promotes inclusion and friendship among the high school students who attend the classes.
  • The 5,000 to 20,000 enrollment category: The Piscataway school board’s monthly Saturday book club discussions sparked this districtwide character education program and school climate initiative. The district encourages teachers and administrators to explore partnerships with other educational institutions and business entities to offer programs that go beyond traditional school experiences. Each school is encouraged to build an Inspire-infused character education program. Throughout the year, music and art programs and essay contests follow the “You, I, We Inspire” theme.
  • The over 20,000 enrollment category: Vancouver Public Schools established Family-Community Resource Centers at high-poverty schools in 2008. The centers, staffed by full-time coordinators, provide students and their families with much-needed housing resources, utility assistance, transportation, in-school dental care, in-school mental and behavioral health care, in-school fresh food pantries and weekend food backpacks, and clothing, shoes, hygiene, and cleaning items. The Mobile Family-Community Resource Center is an effort to expand services to needy students at more affluent schools without these centers. A coordinator drives a colorful van and delivers food, clothing, and other items to these students and schools.

The 2017 Magna winners are highlighted in the April issue of ASBJ and will be formally recognized on Saturday, March 25, in Denver, Colorado, at the School Leaders Luncheon, which is part of NSBA’s Annual Conference. Each grand prize-winning school district will receive a $5,000 contribution from Sodexo and their winning entries will be posted at

2017 Magna Award First Place Winners

Under 5,000 students:

  • East Williston Union Free School District, Old Westbury, New York
  • Swan Valley School District, Saginaw, Michigan
  • Teton County School District 1, Jackson, Wyoming
  • Tillamook School District 9, Tillamook, Oregon
  • Windsor C-1 School District, Imperial, Missouri

5,000 to 20,000 students:

  • Blue Springs School District, Blue Springs, Missouri
  • Hazelwood School District, Florissant, Missouri
  • Hilliard City Schools, Columbus, Ohio
  • Topeka Public Schools, Topeka, Kansas
  • Vail Unified School District, Vail, Arizona

Over 20,000 students:

  • Clarksville-Montgomery County School System, Clarksville, Tennessee
  • Detroit Public Schools Community District, Detroit, Michigan
  • Henrico County Public Schools, Henrico, Virginia
  • Manatee County Public Schools, Bradenton, Florida
  • Springdale School District, Springdale, Arkansas

Honorable mentions – under 5,000 students:

  • Bellefonte Area School District, Bellefonte, Pennsylvania
  • Coffeyville Public Schools USD 445, Coffeyville, Kansas
  • Maplewood Richmond Heights School District, Maplewood, Missouri
  • Three Lakes School District, Three Lakes, Wisconsin
  • Valley View ISD, Pharr, Texas

Honorable mentions – 5,000 to 20,000 students:

  • Widefield School District 3, Colorado Springs, Colorado
  • Raytown Consolidated School District #2, Raytown, Missouri
  • Midway Independent School District, Woodway, Texas
  • West Shore School District, New Cumberland, Pennsylvania
  • Hamblen County Department of Education, Morristown, Tennessee

Honorable mentions – over 20,000 students:

  • Austin Independent School District, Austin, Texas
  • Denton Independent School District, Denton, Texas
  • Fresno Unified School District, Fresno, California
  • Peoria Unified School District, Glendale, Arizona
  • Richland School District Two, Columbia, South Carolina

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National School Boards Association
The National School Boards Association (NSBA) is the leading advocate for public education and supports equity and excellence in public education through school board leadership. NSBA believes public education is a civil right necessary to the dignity and freedom of the American people, and all children should have equal access to an education that maximizes his or her individual potential. The association represents state school boards associations and their more than 90,000 local school board members throughout the U.S.

Sodexo in North America
Sodexo, Inc., leading Quality of Life services company in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, delivers on-site services in Corporate, Education, Health Care, Government, and Remote Site segments, as well as Benefits and Rewards Services and Personal and Home Services. Sodexo, Inc., headquartered in Gaithersburg, Md., funds all administrative costs for the Sodexo Foundation, an independent charitable organization that, since its founding in 1999, has made more than $27 million in grants to end childhood hunger in America. Visit the corporate blog at Visit Sodexo on Facebook and follow on Twitter @SodexoUSA.

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