MSA Superintendent of the Year

Magnet Schools of America Superintendent of the Year

Dr. Stephen Hefner, School District Five of Lexington and Richland Counties, South Carolina
This annual award recognizes the important work of leadership within our school districts to keep magnet schools a priority in the portfolio of school choice options. Dr. Hefner’s unyielding focus on expanding school choice by creating magnet options in District Five has been the catalyst for school improvement districtwide. Spanning nearly 30 years, Dr. Hefner has facilitated the creation of numerous magnet schools and programs in two South Carolina districts, many of which have been recognized by Magnet Schools of America as Schools of Excellence and Schools of Distinction, and achieved designation as Nationally Certified Magnet Schools. In District Five, Dr. Hefner has also helped school leaders secure two multi-million dollar federal Magnet School Assistance Program (MSAP) grants, including a $10.3 million grant in 2013 and $13.7 million grant announced last fall.


Leadership, commitment and involvement are three descriptors that capture the essence of the qualities Magnet Schools of American (MSA) seeks in candidates for the MSA Superintendent of the Year.  Those eligible to be nominated

      • must have served as Superintendent within the district in which they are being nominated for at least two years
      • must be a member of MSA at the time of nomination,
      • may nominate themselves or be nominated by school board members, parents, colleagues and/or community members,
      • must include a letter of nomination, signed from the nominator, and submitted online along with the application, and
      • must include, in the on-line process, a signed acknowledgement letter from a current Board of Education member.


NOTE: Previous winners within the last five years are ineligible for nomination.

A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.

Lao Tzu

MSA wants to identify, and reward, great leadership. Successful candidates for MSA’s Superintendent of the Year Award will demonstrate magnet school leadership in his or her magnet schools within the district, state and national level in the following areas:

A) The following criteria, in the following categories, must be completed:

CATEGORY: Teaching & Learning
Format: two-page maximum; double-spaced; one-inch margins; 12pt Times New Roman font

      • Student Performance (Evidence including academic data)
      • School Improvement (Evidence including academic data improvement over at least two years)
      • Instructional Management (Evidence that superintendent has strong instructional organizational skills)

CATEGORY: Administration & School Climate
Format: two-page maximum; double-spaced; one-inch margins; 12pt Times New Roman font

      • Fiscal Management (Evidence that district budget has been handled responsibly)
      • Facilities Management (Evidence that the district’s space, organization and structures are well coordinated)
      • Student Management (Evidence that there is a well-structured, secure and efficient program in place to record inquiries from prospective students, handle the admission process enroll new students, handle assessments/exams/academic progress; record maintenance of absences and attendance, mapping and development goals, etc.)
      • Personnel Management (Evidence the superintendent optimizes people efficiently, empowering their talent, potential, and ability)

CATEGORY: District Climate
Format: two-page maximum; double-spaced; one-inch margins; 12pt Times New Roman font

      • School Board-Superintendent Relations (Evidence of healthy communication and feedback with the local board of education)
      • School-Community Relations (Evidence of healthy communication and feedback with the business/community partners in the district)
      • Active Promotion of Magnets (Evidence the superintendent promotes, supports, and builds sustainability for magnet schools in the district)

B) IN A SEPARATE DOCUMENT, the following question must be answered in no more than five paragraphs, double-spaced with one-inch margins in 12pt Times New Roman font:


Included in this portion must be a description of programs developed and implemented, enrollments, success and outcomes


      • A basic resume (no more than 3 pages) should accompany the application along with a photo of the Superintendent.

Resume should include education, administrative experiences, professional growth opportunities and dates (e.g., memberships and offices held in professional organizations/associations; professional development activities; publications/articles; leadership positions/roles). 

      • Two letters of recommendation (Letters from current staff will not be considered).
      • School system information (e.g., enrollment, grades, brief description of school system).

D) ADDITIONAL EVIDENCE (up to 5 documents):

Documents, media shares, clippings, etc. that support the superintendent’s professional accomplishments.


The Executive Board of MSA is honored to determine the winner of the Superintendent of the Year Award. The 2018 awardee will be presented the award at the April 25-29, 2018 National Conference on Magnet Schools at the Hyatt Regency in Chicago.

Learn how to become a Nationally Certified Magnet School

Raise the level of performance consistent throughout school districts nationwide and creates a platform from which all magnet schools can flourish. Magnet Schools of America’s national certification process is designed to recognize the hard work of the best magnet schools in the nation and to help them as they grow.

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