Pasadena Unified School District has a total of six magnet schools, each with its own specialized theme.
By Jennifer Hall Lee
Last Thursday, at the PUSD School Board meeting, board members received a virtual tour, so to speak, of these schools. We were led by Shannon Mumolo, PUSD’s Coordinator of Signature Programs, who showed us why we have magnets and what our magnets are doing for us.
Ms. Mumolo said that magnet schools have a purpose to “increase academic achievement and promote racial and socioeconomic integration.” The PUSD magnets are doing just that.
The PUSD magnet schools were created between 2013 and 2017 through two federal grants awarded to the PUSD through the Magnet Schools Assistance Program.
The first magnet school in the U.S. was created in 1968 in the state of Washington (it’s still in existence). Since then, magnet schools have proliferated.
Magnet schools in the PUSD
PUSD magnet schools have specialties which include:
- STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics)
- Early College
- Visual and performing arts
The STEAM magnets (Jackson, Washington Elementary, and Washington STEAM Multilingual Academy) integrate STEAM subjects into core classes. Rigorous classes such as Math Academy and World History in Spanish or English are also offered.
John Muir High School Early College Magnet offers every student the opportunity to earn college credits while enrolled as a high school student. An amazing part of Mumolo’s presentation was the fact that one John Muir High School student is on the verge of earning her AA degree while she is still a high school junior. Her goal is to enter medical school.
In visual and performing arts magnet elementary and middle schools (Altadena Arts, Eliot Arts), a student can choose elective arts classes such as theater and orchestra. Rock band is offered and ceramics and the costume shop are added electives for next year. All students experience the integration of the arts within their core subjects.
In PUSD, the magnets are open to all students through two avenues: living within the school boundary or applying into the school through open enrollment. There are no tests to take, no auditions. Public schools are open to all because they are public. During Open Enrollment, between March 15 and 19, PUSD offers online applications for students who haven’t yet participated. During this time, PUSD accepts applications from families who do not reside within the boundaries of the PUSD.
Celebrate National Magnet School Month
- Shannon Mumolo and PUSD staff will be meeting with local Congress members on February 11. 2021, as part of Magnet Schools of America’s “Virtual Hill Day.”
- You can experience upcoming 3D tours online for John Muir Early College Magnet High School, Washington STEAM Multilingual Academy, and Altadena Arts Magnet.
Jennifer Hall Lee is a Pasadena Unified School District Trustee and an Altadena resident.
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