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Lakewood Montessori Middle, Middle College High at DTCC Named Top Magnet Schools

Lakewood Montessori Middle and Middle College High School at Durham Technical Community College were two of only 24 schools nationwide deemed Top Schools of Excellence, receiving Highest Honors, from the Magnet Schools of America.

A total of 10 Durham Public Schools magnet schools have been notified that their programs have earned merit awards for meeting the high standards set forth by the national organization:

The School for Creative Studies earned a School of Excellence, High Honor, designation.  

Schools of Distinction honors were bestowed upon:

  • Burton IB Magnet Elementary
  • City of Medicine Academy
  • George Watts Montessori Magnet 
  • Hillside High School IB
  • Lowe’s Grove Magnet Middle
  • Neal Magnet Middle
  • Southern School of Energy and Sustainability 

“We are extremely proud of the work that our magnet school administration and teachers are doing to expand opportunities for our students.  This achievement is well-earned and well-deserved. I am especially proud of Middle College and Lakewood Montessori for the national recognition that they have earned,” said Dr. Pascal Mubenga, DPS Superintendent.

Principal Donald Jones said student-staff interaction is foundational to success.

“Lakewood Montessori has a dedicated and talented staff that cares deeply about the students and community we serve.  We strive to create an educational experience that fosters academic curiosity and personal growth, and a social community that encourages a thoughtful, empathetic understanding of our relationship with others and the natural world in which we live.  Through our Montessori curriculum, we hope students leave us with a deep appreciation of their individual worth and more importantly how that worth can, in turn, positively impact our community as a whole,” he said.

Principal Crystal Taylor-Simon at Middle College High School further states that student supports are non-negotiable.

“At Middle College High School, we use our data to be intentional about providing supports for students. The Student Supports Team and our teachers are creative in ensuring that the supports match the individual student's academic and social/emotional needs. Our parents and our community partners also play an integral part of supporting our students and we couldn't have done this without them!

Durham Technical Community College President J.B. Buxton is proud of the partnership forged by DPS and DTCC.

“This designation by Magnet Schools of America is positive proof of the high quality education students receive at Middle College High School. We are a proud partner with Durham Public Schools in ensuring that every student at Middle College High School not only graduates prepared for postsecondary opportunities, but has the ability to earn a college credential or degree while enrolled at Middle College High School. Congratulations to Principal Crystal Taylor-Simon and her team for this achievement.”

The schools will be recognized and receive a National Magnet School of Distinction Award on behalf of the school during an awards ceremony held at Magnet Schools of America’s 40th National Conference hosted by Dallas Independent School District, April 18-22, 2023.

To receive a national merit award, members of Magnet Schools of America must submit a detailed application that is scored by a panel of educators. These schools are judged on their demonstrated ability to raise student academic achievement, promote racial and socioeconomic diversity, provide integrated curricula and instruction, and create strong family and community partnerships that enhance the school’s magnet theme.

To learn more about the national merit awards program, please visit