Harmony Magnet earns distinguished status

Harmony Magnet Academy of Engineering has received Distinguished Academy Status by the National Academy Foundation. Only a few academies, nationwide, were identified with the distinction.

An honor bestowed upon only a handful of academies nationwide each year is what Porterville Unified School District’s Harmony Magnet Academy of Engineering in Strathmore has achieved. ‘Distinguished Academy Status’ is the result of HMA earning the highest scores on an assessment by the National Academy Foundation.

Consideration for the honor involves graduation data, and since Harmony Magnet Academy had its first graduating class in 2012, it is the first year it was eligible for the award.

Out of 500-plus academies, Harmony Magnet Academy received Distinguished status in year one. The road to receiving the honor, however, began more than five years ago, said school principal Jeff Brown.

“Without exception the schools’ success can be traced to many key contributors, however the greatest component of success is the expertise and commitment of the faculty and staff,” Brown said. “Their contributions and fidelity to the linked Learning NAF model continues to support the culture of collaboration and exceptionalisms.”

Brown credits many involved in its success, including former principals Mike Henson, Jeff Bottoms and Robert Land; County representative Randy Wallace; the PUSD administration, governing board and superintendent John Snavely; Pathways Director and former Dean of Harmony Cindy Brown, and the first Advisory Board Chairman John Corkins.

“I’m thrilled that the Academy of Engineering has received this well-deserved honor. This school is a shining representation of the accomplishments and hard work of many individuals in PUSD and in our community,” Cindy Brown said. “I am proud to have been a part of HMA’s early years and to be witness of how this school has become known for its model practices throughout the nation.”

Calling Harmony Magnet Academy more than a charter pathway school, Jeff Brown said it is responsible for establishing new partnerships throughout the community and within the state.

“HMA maintains a high standard of education that the community has embraced while students continue to exceed our expectations. As HMA moves forward, we understand our mission is to continue to generate quality citizens who are college and career ready,” Jeff Brown said. “I would like to thank all of our partners and our PUSD support structure: The District administration, Governing and Charter boards and the Pathways office without whose help HMA would not have achieved the status of 2013 Distinguished Academy.”

NAF president JD Hoye also praised the school and district in a letter to Snavely.

“This school is a shining example of what can be accomplished when districts and schools move to a culture of linking education and business to benefit students. NAF will bring their efforts and success to the attention of business, philanthropic, and policy leaders,” the letter read.

He also acknowledged Jeff Brown and academy director Scott Karjala for their hard work.

“We continue to be very proud of the continued success and accomplishments of Harmony Magnet Academy. Harmony has been our pioneer with Linked Learning and the NAF model of college and career preparedness and we could not be more pleased with its success for our students,” Snavely said. “To be one of the very few schools to obtain the status of Distinguished Academy from NAF is an incredible honor.”

NAF has refined a proven model that provides young people access to industry-specific curricula, work-based learning experiences, and relationships with business professionals for 30 years. This year, NAF academies will serve more than 62,000 students in more than 500 academies in 39 states, D.C. and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Harmony Magnet, along with other 2013 distinguished academies, will be highlighted in July at NAF’s national conference in Orlando, Fla.

Contact Esther Avila at 784-5000, Ext. 1045. Follow her on Twitter @Avila_recorder.

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