School District Five leaders named Magnet Schools of America Superintendent, Principal of the Year

May 2, 2018

Two Lexington-Richland School District Five leaders have earned national titles.

Dr. Stephen Hefner has been named National Superintendent of the Year by Magnet Schools of America (MSA), while Spring Hill High School Principal Dr. Michael Lofton has been named MSA National Principal of the Year. The annual award by MSA recognizes the work of leadership within school districts to keep magnet schools a priority in the portfolio of school choice options. The awards were announced April 28 during the organization’s national conference in Chicago.

“We are proud to recognize Superintendent Hefner for his efforts to expand theme-based magnet programs in his school district, and we commend the work of Dr. Lofton to make Spring Hill High School a model magnet school. With magnets like Spring Hill High, School District Five is offering exciting and applicable learning experiences that engage students and provide them with the necessary skills to succeed in life,” said Magnet Schools of America, Executive Director, Todd Mann.

An advocate of public school choice, Hefner has been credited with launching and fostering numerous magnet programs in both Richland Two and School District Five. An estimated 15,000 – or 1 in 7 – students in the Columbia area are in magnet programs because of his singular efforts to bolster magnets, according to a recent media report.

In District Five, Hefner has helped school leaders secure two multimillion dollar federal Magnet School Assistance Program (MSAP) grants, including a $10.3 million grant in 2013 and $13.7 million grant announced last month. The district’s academic accolades also continued under his leadership, including top ratings, leading test scores and consecutive No. 1 school district rankings by

“This is a tremendous honor,” Hefner said. “I think Horace Mann said it best when he said, ‘Education is best provided in schools embracing children of all religious, social, and ethnic backgrounds.’ Magnets help us achieve this by providing parents with high-quality public school options. I’m honored to represent superintendents who promote magnets nationwide and proud of the great magnets we have in School District Five.”

In early March, Spring Hill High was named a National Magnet School of Distinction by Magnet Schools of America for the second consecutive year.

The school is an all-magnet, all-choice high school in School District Five that offers five focus programs to students from grades 9-12 including: Engineering, Entertainment, Entrepreneurial, Environmental Studies and Exercise Science academies. Through these academies, students are immersed into high tech, real-world environments which develop core knowledge, ignite imagination and make learning relevant by using themed standards-based curriculum. This approach enhances college and career readiness by guiding students to make critical connections between their educational journey and the dynamic world.

“This award is not about one person. It is really about our entire Spring Hill family,” Lofton said. “It takes each and every one of us to bring our best every day.

I am so proud and fortunate to work with such great teachers, administrators and support staff. I am fortunate that I get to represent all of you and the great things you do.”