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Green Named One of the "Best Kept Secret Schools" in Wake County

The "best kept secret" schools of Wake County

With more than 62 magnet schools in the Wake County Public School System, there are a few lesser-known learning institutions which offer unique opportunities for students in Wake County.
Posted 4:22 p.m. Jan 5  - Updated 4:22 p.m. Jan 5

Across the US, there aremore than four thousand magnet schools, each designed to meet state educational standards and course curriculum requirements while also focusing on specific educational themes such as STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), arts, or language immersion. Wake County is home to62 magnet schools, designed to attract students from diverse cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds and varying academic achievement levels.

Nationally, the Wake County Public School System (WCPSS) magnet school programs are well-known as high-performers. Since the late 1990s, WCPSS has received over 365 Magnet Schools of America National Merit Awards and 17 Top Ranking Magnet Schools of America National Awards. For this very reason, it's hard to pick out a few that stand out as the "best.” Still, Tamani Anderson Powell, the Director of Marketing and Communication for the Office of Magnet Programs believes there are a few lesser-known programs that should be recognized.

"As far as some of our hidden gems, it's hard for me to say what's best. I think they're all great for different types of students. I don't really talk about what's best, but I do talk about the opportunities a student would have in a magnet school that they wouldn't have if they were not in a magnet school and how it may benefit them. I think we have lots of programs people are not familiar with and they really should get familiar," said Powell.

These hidden gems includePowell Magnet Elementary School,Green Magnet Elementary School,Centennial Campus Magnet Middle School, andEast Millbrook Magnet Middle School. While adhering to the required curriculum, these schools offer unique learning opportunities for children in Wake County.

  • Powell Elementary: Center for Play and Ingenuity. It is the only school rooted in play theory and curriculum. "Play is intentionally created to support a student's learning. At the K-2 level, it may be [fundamental], but as students get older it really is about how to use strategy to think through a problem," Powell said.
  • Green Magnet Elementary: Leadership and World Languages. At Green, lessons are designed to nurture students' potential as global citizens. Daily instruction is offered in Mandarin Chinese or Spanish. Additionally they use the 7 Habits and Expeditionary Learning K-5 to guide students to find their inner leader. They were recognized as a Magnet School of Excellence for 2022-2023.
  • Centennial Campus Magnet Middle: Center for Innovation. Located on NC State's campus, Centennial is an extension of NC State University. Interacting with campus partners, students have the incredibly unique opportunity to explore meaningful collaboration and innovation.
  • East Millbrook Magnet Middle: Academy of Arts and Design. Nearly 100 electives are available for students who want to explore their passions and creativity through art and design. One look at the website and visitors can see the expansive opportunities for performances and competitions. East Millbrook strives to provide an enriching environment for students to flourish creatively.

Regardless of the specific magnet program a child is enrolled in, the learning outcomes are powerful because students are engaged and interested in their education. "It really is dependent upon your student's learning style. Taking something they already have an interest in and making that a greater part of their instructional day means they're going to be more engaged, and they're going to receive the information in a way that probably works better. Being in a setting that allows you to use your fullest abilities is going to help you see more growth," said Powell.

For parents looking to explore the potential of a magnet school for their child, Powell recommends beginning the process byexploring the WCPSS website to see what programs are available. If a particular program stands out, tour the school to see students in action and meet other parents who've already gone through the process.

You can find guidance on the application process at Although many factors are considered, diversity is key. Powell said, "The selection process is designed to select students in a way that will create a diverse student population in the magnet school. And once they're in that school, we want the administrators and the teachers to be intentional about creating diverse spaces within the school.”