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.


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]

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.