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17 Pinellas schools win national Merit Awards from Magnet Schools of America

Jan. 25, 2024

Magnet Schools of America Schools of Excellence and Distinction

The achievement marks the highest number of Merit Awards that the district has earned from MSA. 

Two Pinellas schools have been honored as Schools of Excellence, MSA’s top Merit Award category, only awarded to a select group of magnet schools. 15 have been honored as Schools of Distinction, the second highest recognition. 

"I am delighted to share that Pinellas County Schools has broken its previous record - again - with 17 schools earning this prestigious honor," said Ellen Truskowski, the director of Student Demographics, Assignment, and School Capacity. "Each year more of our programs earn national recognition for specialized themes and innovative approaches that engage students in learning and prepare them to succeed in college and careers."

Pinellas County Schools offers more than 80 magnet and fundamental programs focused on students' interests, talents, and abilities.  

The district is proud to announce this year’s winning schools:

Merit Award of Excellence Winners

Countryside High School Institute for Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (ISTEM)
Douglas L. Jamerson, Jr. Elementary Center for Mathematics and Engineering

Merit Award of Distinction Winners

Dunedin Highland Middle School Center for Gifted Studies
East Lake Middle School Academy of Engineering
Elisa Nelson Elementary Center for Gifted Studies and Literacy Innovation
Gulfport Montessori Elementary School
James B. Sanderlin K-8 IB World School
John Hopkins Middle School Center for the Arts, Journalism, & Gifted Studies
Largo High School - Exploring Careers & Education in Leadership (ExCEL) and International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IB)
Largo Middle IB World School
Midtown Academy Center for Cultural Arts, Gifted Studies, and Literacy Innovation
Mildred Helms Elementary IB World School
Perkins Elementary Center for the Arts and International Studies
Richard O. Jacobson Technical High School at Seminole
Ridgecrest Elementary Center for Gifted Studies
Seminole High School Center for Education and Leadership
Tarpon Springs High School - Cambridge AICE, Jacobson Culinary Arts Academy, Leadership Conservatory for the Arts, and Veterinary Science

MSA is a national nonprofit professional education association. To earn a national Merit Award, members must submit a detailed application, which is scored by a panel of educators. Schools are scored on their demonstrated ability to raise student achievement, promote racial and socioeconomic diversity, provide integrated curricula and instruction, and create strong family and community partnerships that enhance the magnet theme.

The award-winning schools will be recognized at the Magnet Schools of America’s National Conference hosted by New York City Schools from April 16-20.

See award winners on the MSA site

Learn more about Pinellas County Schools magnet programs at