I recently helped my protege apply for a DISD magnet program. I d like to cast some vision for why I was interested in having my protege apply and then provide a little insight into the nitty-gritty of the process for anyone else interested.
First of all, why magnets?
Let me be clear about something: education is not the pathway to a hope and a future. We believe that God s good plan is to give a hope and a future to each of His children. This will ultimately be worked out in eternity, though we will see shadows of His goodness in this life. His plan is not dependent on our educational successes or privileges.
So, the reason I helped her apply to a magnet school was not because I think education is her saving grace. Education is a helpful tool, for sure. But I won t love my protege any less if she goes to the lowest ranked school in the district (or any more if she attends the highest ranked).
The reason I helped her go through the magnet school process is that education is ultimately a justice issue. The education system is one plagued by inequality and prejudice. Whenever we as Christians encounter a system that perpetuates injustice, we should defend the underdog.
The magnet school application process is difficult to navigate. While applications are closed for next school year, here are three things I d recommend keeping in mind if you ever walk through this process with your protege:
1) DISD means business with their paperwork.
Since my protege stays with a grandparent who doesn t share her last name, we had to get an affidavit notarized stating she lives with her grandparent (if you wanted to know, banks have notaries). We also needed a utility bill (proof of residency), old test scores, and old report cards. I worked with her math teacher to secure all of these things, and her teacher proved to be a great resource. I d recommend working with one of your protege s teachers to round up all the information. Start working on this is early January to make sure you have enough time to run any unexpected paperwork-related errands!
2) Many of the more competitive magnets require a portfolio, interview, or on-site testing. These things take preparation.
For the program my protege applied to (Townview School of Business & Management), she had a graded discussion with other applicants as well as an essay. The discussion & essay were based off of a New York Times article that needed to be read beforehand. So, we spent several hours reading through the article, discussing it, and even writing some practice essays in order to prepare for it.
I know that some other programs may require an on-site interview or test. Arts programs require an audition or portfolio. If your protege is interested in applying to one of these programs, start early. It can take a lot of work to get everything ready!
3) The application deadline is very firm.
I d recommend getting everything in a week early. The application deadline is very firm, and extra time allows for any last-minute oversights. They won t take applications even a minute late, and everything has to be 100% complete when it is turned in.
So, when you walk into conversations about school with your protege, remember that educational successes or failures don’t define your protege. When we prioritize justice, not simply achievement, we are able to fight for students in a grace-filled, passionate way. If you do decide to look into a different schooling option than their neighborhood school, expect a few roadblocks along the way. Work with your protege’s parents and teachers closely, and don’t procrastinate! Reach out to your Mentor Coordinator with any questions, and we are happy to help you navigate the process.