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Two Magnet Schools Win Major National Awards

April 15, 2019

Reedy Creek Magnet Middle School student at the computer.


Two Wake County Public School System magnet schools received top national honors last week.


Magnet Schools of America (MSA) named Wake STEM Early College High School the best secondary magnet school in the nation, and Reedy Creek Magnet Middle School was honored with the New and Emerging Magnet School Award. Both schools were among the 11 Wake County Public School System schools to be named Magnet Schools of Excellence earlier this year.


Wake STEM’s citation as best secondary magnet school is based on the school's academic excellence, diversity, family and community partnerships, high quality instructional systems and Innovative curriculum and professional development. The school was deemed the best secondary magnet school in the nation after a visit by a team from MSA team, who interviewed teachers, parents and community partners.


Reedy Creek Magnet Middle, Center for Digital Sciences, received the New and Emerging Magnet School Award. This is given to the best magnet school in the nation that has offered its magnet program for three years or fewer.


Every year, dozens of Wake County Public School System schools are recognized as either Magnet Schools of Excellence or Magnet Schools of Distinction. Our schools also frequently win top national honors.

  • Farmington Woods Magnet Elementary was named the top magnet elementary school in the nation last year.
  • Douglas Magnet Elementary School was named top magnet school for all grade levels in 2016, and Wiley Magnet Elementary School was named top elementary magnet that same year.
  • Brentwood Magnet Elementary was named second best of all magnet schools in the nation in 2015, with Wendell Magnet Elementary taking top honors for elementary schools that same year.
  • Combs Magnet Elementary School was named top magnet school in the nation for all grade levels in 2014 and 2004.


“National merit awards are presented annually and are only given to the most prominent magnet schools in the country,” said MSA Executive Director, Todd Mann. “These extraordinary schools have been through a rigorous review process and adhere to the five pillars of magnet school excellence. Merit awardees embody the best in public education and should be celebrated as such in their community.”


Additionally, our district was named best in the nation in exemplifying equity, excellence and diversity while sustaining strong and dedicated support for magnet schools.


Superintendent Cathy Moore accepted the Donna Grady-Creer Award for Magnet Sustainability at the Magnet Schools of America national conference in Baltimore last week.


About Wake STEM Early College

Richard Marshall, former valedictorian of Wake STEM Early College

Wake STEM Early College High School is a small public school, a joint project between the Wake County Public School System and N.C. State University. Early college means students take college courses at NC State as well as the courses required to earn a high school diploma over a five year period. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. These fields are increasingly important to finding solutions to sustaining our planet and its people. Students focus on these areas in their coursework.


Principal David Schwenker says of the magnet award: "Wake STEM is humbled to receive this award, as the success of our school truly demonstrates the power of collaboration. The staff and students of Wake STEM embrace the 4 Cs and, together with our PTSA, Business Advisory Board, North Carolina State University, and the State Department of Public Instruction, focus on the National Grand Challenges for Engineering, preparing our students for a world yet unknown. We are honored to be part of the award-winning Wake County Public School System and thank the entire district for their support of magnet programs and the success of each individual student."


About Reedy Creek Magnet Middle School, Center for Digital Sciences 

Reedy Creek Magnet Middle robot

Reedy Creek Center for the Digital Sciences is the only Digital Sciences middle school in the country. Students are prepared for a digital future by teaching them to be problem solvers who think critically and creatively, and who use technology as a tool for collaboration and innovation.


Digital Sciences teaches an approach to learning called Computational Thinking. Computational Thinking involves collecting data, breaking it down, analyzing it, looking for patterns, and finding creative and innovative steps to solve problems. This thinking approach serves children in all subject areas and in their lives, even beyond academics.


The school also has formed relationships with leading technology companies. Students make regular field trips to local companies, and company leaders visit often to mentor students.


Principal Trent Evans says of the New and Emerging Magnet School Award: “As a magnet school only in its third year of implementation, this is an amazing honor. I'm so appreciative to MSA for recognizing the hard work and dedication that our staff, students, families and business partners have contributed to help us evolve so quickly. As an emerging program, we continuously strive to stay cutting edge, and you can't do that without the commitment from our entire staff, especially our magnet coordinator, Christine Sachs. She works tirelessly on recruitment, curriculum development, relationships with business partners, and communication. She is an incredible leader and visionary. No way we receive this recognition without her. Dividing deeper and looking at the climate and culture of our school, you see that our students are simply amazing. They are eager to learn! Through collaboration with their peers, they demonstrate on a daily basis their creativity, application of computational thinking, and understanding by producing quality work products that infuse technology. Our parents and business partners have also embraced our theme and supported our program from Day 1. Their involvement has afforded our students so many more opportunities than they would have otherwise had. This award speaks volumes for our school! I can't wait to see where we are in year 5, year 10, and beyond. The recognition is for being ‘new and emerging.’ We are just getting started.”