The Piscataway school board was named one of three grand prize winners in the 23rd annual Magna Awards program, an honor that recognizes school districts and their leaders for taking “bold and innovative steps” to improve the lives of their students and communities.

The awards were presented at the National School Boards Association’s Annual Conference in Denver, in late March.

Piscataway was honored for its “You, I, We Inspire” program, a character education program and school climate initiative, that strives to inspire students to make positive choices and lead by example. The program, which grew out of a monthly Saturday book club discussion, encourages each school to build an Inspire-infused character education program. The distinctive program encourages teachers and administrators to explore partnerships with other education institutions, and business entities to offer programs that go beyond traditional school experiences.

“School climate and character development are essential components of student achievement. We congratulate the Piscataway School District for its innovative approach to this critical subject. The recognition is well deserved,” said New Jersey School Boards Association Executive Director Dr. Lawrence S. Feinsod.

“Creativity and innovation are needed to help students realize their full potential,” said Thomas J. Gentzel, NSBA Executive Director and CEO. “The Magna Award-winning districts are prime examples of how public schools all over the country are working to give students a high-quality education and life.”

The Magna Awards recognizes three grand prize winners, 15 first place, and 15 honorable mention winners. Piscataway received the grand prize for the 5,000 to 20,000 enrollment category.

Selected as grand prize winner for the under 5,000 enrollment category was the Upper St. Clair School District, in Upper St. Clair, Pennsylvania; and winning the grand prize in the over 20,000 enrollment category were the Vancouver Public Schools, in Vancouver, Wash.

The awards are sponsored by NSBA’s flagship magazine, American School Board Journal, and supported by Sodexo.

The award-winning Piscataway program will be the subject of an upcoming article in NJSBA’s School Leader magazine, and has already been included in NSBA’s directory of best practices, A+ Ideas, Programs and Practices.