An Overview of the Magna Awards, by Dr. Carole Hankin

Established nearly two decades ago, the Magna Awards recognize significant advances in student learning thanks to school board best practices and innovative educational programs. In order to be eligible for the Awards, the school board must have played an active role in the program and it must be transferrable to other schools. The program must also clearly advance student learning and promote the mission of the district. An independent panel of six judges evaluates each program on several criteria, including creativity, commitment to student achievement, and district leadership. Judging takes place in three categories: under 5,000 enrollment; 5,000 to 20,000 enrollment; and over 20,000 enrollment, with the top program from each division winning a $4,000 prize. Aside from the three grand prizes, the judges name five additional winners and five honorable mention participants as well.

All of the programs that earn one of the abovementioned distinctions, as well as other notable programs, will be entered into the Magna Awards Best Practices Database. Accessible online, this searchable cache of programs from former participants serves as a valuable resource for other school boards looking to improve the academic programs in their district.

About the Author: In two decades as the Superintendent of the Syosset Central School District, Dr. Carole Hankin has made numerous improvements in the New York district. Through the leadership of Dr. Hankin and other administrators, Syosset Central School District has garnered accolades from media outlets and organizations across the country, including a Magna Award from the American School Board Journal. Dr. Carole Hankin has earned personal distinction as well; she won the School Superintendent Recognition Award from the New York State Alliance for Arts Education and the Distinguished Service Award from the New York State PTA.


Syosset Students Visit NanoCareer Day

Dr. Carole Hankin is Syosset Central School District’s superintendent. During her tenure, Dr. Carole Hankin has spearheaded an initiative to advance a science curriculum that includes the exploration of nanotechnology.

An interest in advanced scientific studies recently led more than two dozen Syosset High School students to travel to NanoCareer Day at the University at Albany-SUNY’s College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering. Syosset was one of only seven New York high schools present. Students attended lectures and presentations revolving around nanotechnology and engineering.

The event provided a detailed look into the fast-growing field of nanotechnology. Attendees learned about career opportunities and participated in hands-on demonstrations, including DNA extraction from a banana and a clean room tour.

The NanoCareer Day experience complemented Syosset Central School District’s existing nanotechnology curriculum, which has students learning the science starting in kindergarten. The district’s award-winning academic program has been recognized nationally for its innovative approach.

Dr. Carole Hankin on the Importance of Encouraging Children to Try Out a Variety of Activities (Part 1)

As Superintendent of Schools of New York’s Syosset Central School District, Dr. Carole Hankin is closely involved in the Syosset community and writes the bimonthly column “From the Superintendent’s Desk” on educational issues as she sees them.

In one piece, Dr. Hankin examines the effect that too-high expectations can have on children’s growth. She writes that it is natural for children to explore a variety of academic and life interests as they progress through elementary, middle, and high school. They may demonstrate a particular affinity for biology or a love of music or sports, for example. Parents may influence this process through hasty judgments about their children’s abilities.

While parents’ excitement may be natural, Dr. Carole Hankin feels that making premature assessments of the child’s strengths and weaknesses can affect natural self-development. Parents should just enjoy their children.

Dr. Carole Hankin : Women’s Committee of the Central Park Conservancy

Dr. Carole Hankin has played an integral role in improving educational offerings in New York as the longtime Superintendent of Schools for the Syosset Central School District. Dr. Hankin also contributes to several nonprofit organizations, including the Peconic Bay Medical Center Foundation, the Museum of Mathematics, and the Westchester Community College Foundation. An active community advocate, Dr. Carole Hankin is also a member of the Women’s Committee of the Central Park Conservancy.

Following a decade of neglect and disregard, a concerned group of local leaders founded the Central Park Conservancy in 1980 to restore the historic park to its pristine condition. In the more than three decades since its founding, the Central Park Conservancy has invested more than $550 million into revitalizing the park. The organization continues to expand and is under contract to manage the facility until 2014. Early in the Central Park Conservancy’s history, a group of four women came together to form the Women’s Committee. Sharing the same goals as its parent organization, the Women’s Committee supports several of its own programs and charitable events, including the Family Party in Heckscher Playground and the Frederick Law Olmsted Awards Luncheon, a pair of highly anticipated annual fundraisers. Each year, the work of the Women’s Committee accounts for approximately one-fifth of the Central Park Conservancy’s funding. The more than 1,000 members of the Women’s Committee play an active role in facilitating the continued restoration of Central Park. Here is a brief overview of some of the Committee’s main contributions to Central Park Conservancy:

Adopt-A-Bench: Central Park boasts more than 9,000 benches, all of which require some sort of periodical maintenance. The Adopt-A-Bench program allows donors to pledge anywhere from $7,500 to $25,000 to adopt one of these benches. To date, more than 2,000 benches in Central Park have been supported by the program.

Endow a Tree: Operating in a similar fashion as Adopt-A-Bench, this program seeks to procure financial support for the 24,000 trees that inhabit Central Park. All of the proceeds from the program go directly to planting new trees and maintaining existing ones.

Playground Partners: Striving to care for and preserve the more than 20 playgrounds in Central Park, this group collects contributions to perform daily inspections and other essential tasks. Pledge levels range from $100 to $10,000.

[Central Park Woodlands Restoration]

Various Awards and Honors Received by Dr. Carole Hankin

During her time as Superintendent of Schools for Syosset Central School District in New York, Dr. Carole Hankin has received several awards that reflect the positive changes and programs her administration has aimed to implement in the district. In 2008, the Columbia University Chapter of Phi Delta Kappa named Dr. Hankin Educator of the Year. The Executive Board chose her for the award based on her noteworthy qualifications and accomplishments.

In 2007, Dr. Carole Hankin accepted the School Superintendent Recognition Award, presented by the New York State Alliance for Arts Education. Intended to honor those who facilitate improvements in arts education, the School Superintendent Recognition Award emphasized her district’s priority on high-quality courses and programs that helped students learn about the arts in engaging and significant ways. Dr. Carole Hankin considers this award one of the highest points of her career, as she places a special emphasis on encouraging students to appreciate and become involved in the arts.

Finally, Syosset Principals Association nominated Dr. Carole Hankin for the Council of Administrators & Supervisors award in 2004. She was accepted the CAS award, which honors those who display leadership as an educator and competence and experience in administration, and who consciously advocate the profession of the educator as well as the importance of supervisors and administrators in the field.

While Dr. Carole Hankin was proud to receive these awards, she was even more honored by what the awards meant for the leadership and influence the school district has had on the lives of its students as well as its educators, supervisors, and administrators who work tirelessly to foster fun and enriching educational environments.

About Dr. Carole Hankin

Dr. Carole Hankin currently serves as Superintendent of Schools for Syosset Central School District in New York, a position she has held since 1990. In that position, Dr. Hankin holds responsibility for 10 unique schools and more than 6,600 students and 1,500 staff members. Believing in the importance of arts and arts education, Dr. Carole Hankin has initiated partnerships with nearby arts institutions such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the American Museum of Natural History, among others.

In addition to the honors mentioned above, Dr. Carole Hankin and Syosset Central School District received other distinctions, including an Aa1 rating from Moody’s Investors Service, Inc., given in recognition of Dr. Hankin’s sound financial choices in her appointment as Superintendent. Furthermore, all three secondary schools in the district earned the U.S. Department of Education’s Blue Ribbon designation.

The Westchester Community College Foundation, by Dr. Carole Hankin

As the Superintendent of Schools for the Syosset Central School District in New York for more than 20 years, Dr. Carole Hankin oversees approximately 6,600 students across 10 schools. In the interest of enhancing her district’s educational opportunities, she forged partnerships between her district and entities such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the American Museum of Natural History, and Rockefeller University.

Many individuals aspire to continue their educational pursuits at a higher learning institution, but rising tuition costs and other financial concerns often make those ambitions difficult to achieve. Established in 1969, the Westchester Community College Foundation aims to raise funds for students unable to pay for their education solely through public funding.

A nonprofit organization, the foundation conducts various fund-raising events and programs to raise funds for students in need of financial support. Many of the programs supported by the foundation have proven essential to Westchester Community College, but have no other means of support outside of the foundation’s efforts. Indeed, the foundation itself would not exist without the support of numerous local businesses and individuals who believe in its cause. Donors take pleasure in knowing that their contributions go directly toward providing students with the educational opportunities they desire and help faculty to continue their work.

Since it started over 42 years ago, the foundation has raised more than $12 million in grants and scholarships. The awards aided more than 13,000 individuals to enter college and pursue their chosen degrees and careers. In cases where students require additional support outside Westchester’s budget, the foundation provides aid via the Westchester Community College Volunteer Corp. More than 400 volunteers serve in positions across the Westchester campus, donating their time as tutors, landscapers, and cultural arts program assistants, among other special projects.

Readers interested in learning more about the foundation can visit

The Kennedy Center Alliance for Arts Education Network, by Dr. Carole Hankin

Since 1990, Dr. Carole Hankin has led New York’s Syosset Central School District as Superintendent. During her tenure, Dr. Hankin has prioritized personal and educational enrichment through the arts. In 2002, Syosset Central School District’s Board of Education received the Kennedy Center Alliance for Arts Education Network and National School Boards Association Award in recognition of its achievement in facilitating the nation’s top arts education program.

For the last 22 years, The Kennedy Center Alliance for Arts Education Network has partnered with the National School Boards Association (NSBA) to recognize school boards that advocate the highest degree of education and commitment to the arts in their school districts. Specifically, KCAAEN awards boards whose educational programs focus on dance, visual arts, theater, and music, the four disciplines considered to be the cornerstone of artistic pursuits.

Every year, school districts across the United States place increasing emphasis on their arts programs. In addition to instilling a desire for greater education in disciplines such as science, mathematics, language, and history, more teachers recognize the necessity of creative expression. Educators and administrators hope that by encouraging an interest in different types of art, students will continue to satisfy their desire for creative expression by enrolling in additional art courses throughout their educational careers.

Candidates for the annual KCAAEN award are narrowed down to school boards per state. Representatives from KCAAEN and the NSBA confer with educators and administrators involved in the arts to make the final decision. The chosen board receives the award at the yearly NSBA conference and joins an extensive list of school districts that have won the award dating back to 2001.