Three Schools Win Merit Awards from Magnet Schools of America

February 25, 2013
Beecher named 2013 Magnet School of Excellence; Barnard and John Daniels named 2013 Magnet Schools of Distinctions
New Haven Public Schools is proud to announce that three schools have won 2013 merit awards from the Magnet Schools of America, the national association for magnet and theme-based schools.
Beecher Museum School of Arts and Sciences has been named a 2013 Magnet School of Excellence. Two schools – Barnard Environmental Studies Magnet School and John Daniels School of International Communications – were named 2013 Magnet Schools of Distinction.
“This is extraordinary news for the school district and a testament to the strong schools of choice that are available to families through our Inter-district Magnet School Program. I congratulate Beecher, Barnard and Daniels for earning this honor by offering innovative and engaging programs along with rigorous curriculum,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Reginald Mayo.
Beecher School uses a “hands-on approach” to learning, with theme-based and object-based studies to help students explore, apply and create knowledge in both individual and group projects. Students present their conclusions through exhibitions, reports and publications. During school-wide exhibitions, classrooms become museums and students become museum guides.
Beecher has formed partnerships with renowned museums in New Haven. These partnerships enable pre- kindergarten through eighth grade students to use museum collections and exhibitions as a springboard to academic discovery and exploration.
“The Beecher School Community is overjoyed and honored to receive the Magnet School of Excellence Award,” said Beecher Principal Kathy Russell Beck. “This prestigious award reflects the hard work and dedication of our entire school family. Becoming a magnet school with a museum studies focus has transformed our learning environment and enhanced student achievement. We are humbled by this national recognition and are further inspired to continue our culture of success.”
Barnard Environmental Studies Magnet School's environmental focus promotes values of respect and concern for both humans and nature and encourages students to become active stewards of both. Barnard was completely renovated and expanded in 2006 to include the largest solar panel display in Connecticut, three greenhouses and a student-maintained courtyard garden. The Nature Center can be accessed by a pedestrian bridge to explore the West River located across the street.
Three years ago Barnard was tapped as an “Improvement School” as part of the New Haven School Change Initiative. Barnard Principal Michael Crocco collaborated with a team of teachers to establish changes, including having teachers eat lunch with the students to improve relationships among students and adults, and having teachers meet every morning to focus on improving communication, collaboration and instruction. In three years, Barnard has seen literacy and math scores rise as well as a huge change in culture and climate.
“We have accomplished so much together in the past three years,” Principal Crocco said. “As a staff we have committed ourselves to working collaboratively and it continues to yield positive results. I am grateful to the Magnet Schools of America for recognizing our accomplishments, and am very proud of our staff, students and parents. There is still a lot to accomplish, but this honor helps to validate the work we have been doing, and motivate us to continue improve”
John C. Daniels Magnet School of International Communication is first and foremost a dual language school. Students in grades K-5 are taught in Spanish (50% of the time) and in English (50% of the time). Students in grades 6-8 move to a world language model and continue their language instruction in a Spanish or Chinese class.
Spanish and English teachers follow district curricula in all subject areas and enhance instruction through our international communication theme. The theme was designed to expand students' knowledge about the world’s diverse countries and people so that they are equipped and empowered to communicate with each other and across cultures.
“I am honored to accept this award on behalf of the dedicated teachers, staff, parents and students who make up the John C. Daniels family,” said Daniels Principal Edith Johnson. “As a dual language school focused on the theme of international communication, Daniels offers a powerful and unique educational experience for our students. We look forward to continuing the hard work of making Daniels the best school it can be.”
To receive a merit award, schools must submit a detailed application that is scored by a panel of educators. There are two categories of merit awards: 1. Magnet Schools of Excellence, the top award given to a select group of magnet schools, and 2. Magnet Schools of Distinction, the second highest award of recognition.
Magnet schools in the excellence category are eligible to receive monetary awards, including $1,000 for the New & Emerging Magnet School Award and $5,000 for the Dr. Ronald P. Simpson Distinguished Merit Award, considered the top award for magnet schools in the nation.
To learn more about Magnet Schools of America’s merit awards program, please visit