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Martin T. Reid was named 2016 National Principal of the Year.

Magnet Schools of America (MSA) honored its finest principals, teachers, and schools at the Magnet Schools of America National 2016 Conference held in Miami the first week in May. Martin T. Reid, who serves as principal of Arthur & Polly Mays 6-12 Conservatory of the Arts, received top honors being deemed the National 2016 Principal of the Year. A once dying school with a small magnet program, Arthur & Polly Mays Conservatory of the Arts School now has a waiting list to get in. The driving force behind this Cinderella story is the school’s devoted and visionary leader.

Arthur & Polly Mays Conservatory of the Arts School, whose 1935 building is designated as a historical site, was one of the first schools to offer a K-12 education to African Americans during segregation. Over time, it became a junior high, high school, middle school and finally what it is today, a 6th-12th grade magnet school for students interested in the visual, performing, and communicative arts. Mr. Reid became principal of Mays Middle school in 2009. He wrote the initial concept paper for the establishment of the Conservatory, which was accepted and approved by the district becoming the first 6-12 grade school in Miami-Dade County.

In the seven years as principal, Reid changed the school for the better, promoting equity and diversity among the students as well as equitable academic success for all students. “I feel that I have the best job in the world because on a daily basis, I get a chance to make a difference in the lives of my students by ensuring they receive a high quality education that prepares them for their future endeavors,” principal Reid says in a statement. A graduate of FAMU with more than 20 years of experience in administration and leadership, Reid lead the transformation of turning a once undesirable and underachieving school into a viable educational choice with great partnerships such as the University of Miami Frost School of Music and Miami City Ballet.

“My husband was hesitant to send our son to Mays due to the reputation of the school and the neighborhood. After we attended an orientation and heard Mr. Reid speak, my husband was blown away. Needless to say, my son has been at Mays for five years and his sister will be attending next year” states parent, Bridget Milligan. Under his leadership the school has been awarded three National Merit Awards and the NAMM Support the Music Award. During the 2015 school year, Arthur & Polly Mays Conservatory of the Arts had its first graduating class of 72 seniors. They earned over $1.2 million in scholarship offers, received acceptances into 60 colleges and universities, and exceeded graduation rates both locally and nationally. Many of these students will be the first in their families to go to college.

Yvette Caslin

I'm a writer, image architect & significance marketer. Love photojournalism, creative expression & originality.