Twenty-eight Connecticut magnet schools were honored as some of the best in the country. Ten schools were named "schools of excellence," which is the highest award given by the Magnet Schools of America organization.
Connecticut has the highest number of award-winning magnet schools per capita compared to any other state.
The organization’s spokesman, John Laughner, said that Connecticut’s strong magnet schools are a product of its commitment to diversity and providing all kids with high-quality education.
“Connecticut has a very strong inter-district and regional magnet program that really has done a tremendous job at promoting very diverse classrooms,” Laughner said.
Three schools run by the Capital Region Education Council were named schools of excellence, along with three Hartford Schools, three from New Haven, and one from New London.
Another 18 schools were named "schools of distinction," the second-highest honor. These included schools from Waterbury and Bloomfield.
Laughner said that Connecticut’s commitment to diversity has paid off. “The Connecticut magnet schools have definitely been a model magnet program for a long period of time,” he said.
The landmark court case Sheff vs. O’Neill required Hartford to diversify its schools, and the magnet program has become a key aspect of compliance to that ruling.
The top schools are eligible for cash prizes, including a $5,000 grand prize for the best magnet school in the country.
There are 39 inter-district magnet schools in Connecticut. This year, 319 schools applied for the merit award program, and 208 were chosen as either schools of excellence or distinction. Nevada, Florida, and North Carolina also had high numbers of schools being recognized. Schools from 15 states were given merit awards this year.
Additionally, Connecticut teacher Erin Wilson from the Annie Fisher STEM Magnet School in Hartford was named teacher of the year for all of New England, New York, and New Jersey. Wilson has been a teacher for 13 years in Hartford, according to the district.
Watch a video below of Wilson, produced by AFT Connecticut, one of the state's two teachers unions:
“I’m overwhelmed with gratitude and humbled by this acknowledgement,” Wilson said in a statement from the district. “I am most proud to not only represent the teaching community in region one, but to represent the city I have dedicated my educational career to – Hartford.”
Wilson is a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) instructional coach at Annie Fisher, one of seven Hartford magnets awarded by Magnet Schools of America.