Eminence Independent school district was recently named one of 15 first place winners in the national Magna Awards Program.

The Magna Awards, supported by Sodexo, recognize districts across the country for outstanding programs that advance student learning and encourage community involvement in schools.

Eminence Independent won for its School on FIRE (Framework of Innovation for Reinventing Education) program at Eminence High School.

The program fosters a college-focused culture in the district. At the time of its creation, high school students were transferring to neighboring districts in record numbers. The school board sought feedback and found students were leaving due to the lack of technology, elective course choices and the opportunity for advanced college-prep courses.

The school board took several actions to address those concerns. Every high school student now receives a free laptop.

Additionally, the master schedule was redesigned to promote mastery in learning and provide opportunities for enrichment and interventions. Students performing well in core classes also may take an array of electives.

Any student who meets college readiness requirements can take classes at Bellarmine University and earn up to 13 credits a year. The board pays the tuition, travel and book fees for these students.

This year’s three grand prize, 15 first place and 15 honorable mention winners were selected from three enrollment categories: less than 5,000 students, 5,000 to 20,000 students, and more than 20,000 students. Each of the grand prize winning school districts will receive a $4,000 contribution from Sodexo on April 14, during Sunday’s General Session at National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) 73rd Annual Conference in San Diego.

Eminence was a winner in the less than 5,000 students category.

Three other Kentucky school districts received honorable mention honors.

Jenkins Independent school district earned honorable mention in the less than 5,000 students category for its dual credit and mentoring program, while

Taylor County school district earned the same honor for its school district performance-based education model.

In the 5,000 to 20,000 students category, Kenton County school district received honorable mention for its Investing in Students, Making Math Count initiative.

Pennsylvania’s Derry Township school district, Virginia’s Albemarle County Public Schools, and California’s Fontana Unified school district were named the grand prize winners in the 19th annual Magna Awards program sponsored by the National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) American School Board Journal (ASBJ).

ASBJ initiated the Magna Awards in 1995 to recognize school boards for taking bold and innovative steps to improve their educational programs. An independent panel of school board members, administrators and other educators selected the winners from nearly 300 submissions.

The 2013 winners are highlighted in a special section in the May issue of ASBJ and will be formally recognized on April 13 at the Best Practices for School Leaders Luncheon, which is part of NSBA’s 73rd Annual Conference.

In addition to the ASBJ special section, the districts’ winning entries will be posted on the Magna Awards website and added to the program’s searchable best practices database.