Grantee Corner  |  Los Angeles Unified School District

Two male students wear lab goggles and poor solutions into beakers
LAUSD/USC Cinematic Arts and Engineering Magnet School students measure for a lab exercise in chemistry class.

A group of students play stringed instruments in a classroom
Irving Middle School STEAM Magnet students demonstrate their love of music in orchestra class

A group of students pose for the camera with iPads
Sun Valley STEAM Magnet School students smile while using iPads to work on an assignment

Female student smiles while sitting at a computer
Wright Middle School STEAM Magnet School student creates a virtual image using Autodesk design software to add to her portfolio of work

Headshot of Cheryl Minke
Cheryl Minke, LAUSD Project Director

Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is the second largest public school district in the nation, serving 643,493 K-12 students. LAUSD covers 710 square miles, including most of the City of Los Angeles, all or portions of 31 other cities, and unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County. About 4.8 million people live within the District’s boundaries, and 93 languages other than English are spoken in LAUSD schools. 

Currently, 210 magnet programs serve more than 25,000 LAUSD students. Four of these programs were launched with Magnet Schools Assistance Program (MSAP) funds, forming a network of science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM) magnet schools. 

Irving Middle School STEAM Magnet focuses on advanced math, music, and engineering, and integrates arts into all aspects of the school in an interdisciplinary approach. Irving encourages student innovation in preparation for citizenship and 21st century careers. 

LAUSD/USC Cinematic Arts and Engineering Magnet School is expanding its magnet program using MSAP funds. Previously, the school served grades 9 through 12, and focused on math, science, and technology. Now, the school serves grades 6 through 12, and has a STEAM theme to reflect the 21st century infusion of arts into sciences. LAUSD/USC Magnet provides a rigorous, diverse, integrated, project-based learning (PBL) curriculum and has had a 100 percent graduation rate for the past 3 years. Adjacent to the University of Southern California, LAUSD/USC Magnet has established academic partnerships with the University’s School of Cinematic Arts, Thornton School of Music, Rossier School of Education, Viterbi School of Engineering, and Roski School of Fine Arts. 

Sun Valley STEAM Magnet School serves students in grades 6 through 12, and has three academies: environmental studies through arts and sciences; engineering, arts, and technology for global progress; and biomedical sciences, engineering, and leadership. Teachers collaborate to design and implement meaningful, interdisciplinary PBL activities. Students investigate and analyze societal and environmental issues. In addition, a partnership with the Los Angeles Music Center helps integrate different forms of art into many core classes. Finally, the 12 Project Lead the Way (PLTW) courses cultivate critical thinking and communication as students identify problems, design solutions, and engage in self-directed learning. Sun Valley Magnet ignites student imagination and brings joy to learning. 

Wright Middle School STEAM Magnet opened in 2013, focusing on engineering and design. The magnet develops students’ 21st century skills through PBL and interdisciplinary projects. It also incorporates arts through a theatre/drama program that teaches students acting, stage design, and production. In addition, electives include dance, PLTW Automation and Robotics, Biomedical Detectives, and Flight and Space. Partners include Delta Sigma Theta, Youth Services Plus, and Loyola Marymount University. 

Cheryl Minke is the Interim MSAP Project Director for the STEAM Network schools in LAUSD. She has served the district’s students for 23 years, as a teacher and an administrator. She works with Keith Abrahams III, the Executive Director for Student Integration Services, the department which manages all magnet programs in the District.