For those of us who proudly lead and educate students at Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS), teaching and learning is about much more than academics. It is for this reason, that Values Matter Miami was created in 2015 to bring core values to life for 21st Century students. Values Matter Miami, M-DCPS’ successful and exciting character education initiative, teaches, reinforces, promotes, and celebrates the District’s nine core values. These values, which include citizenship, cooperation, fairness, honesty, integrity, kindness, pursuit of excellence, respect, and responsibility, were adopted by the School Board in 1995 and are an important part of the school district’s Code of Student Conduct.
Values Matter Miami aims to develop positive student behavior and support schools in creating a culture in which all are treated with respect, dignity, and kindness. As global citizens, students are encouraged to align their behavior with values which support collaboration, communication, creativity, and critical thinking as they navigate their diverse, socially challenging, and digitally saturated world. Through the Values Matter Miami initiative, we seek to empower our youth to make decisions based on core values, allowing them to make positive and lasting contributions to the community.
The initiative includes thoughtful instruction on the nine core values as well as creative promotion and celebration of the values in school and in the community. All schools across the school district participate in this initiative and find unique and exciting ways to promote and celebrate the values. Each month of the school year the District focuses on one of the values and supports schools with activities and resources through a monthly newsletter. Additionally, each school is provided with Values Matter Miami certificates, which are used to celebrate students who demonstrate the values each month.
We have also taken values education beyond school sites and into the community by engaging local partners in this effort. This initiative is fueled by the belief that success is predicated on behavior both in and out of the classroom that is aligned with these core values. There are many community agencies that have worked with the District to support the initiative.
During the 2019-20 school year, we were pleased to partner with the Miami Dolphins organization. This collaboration assisted in extending the initiative’s reach in our schools, on our playing fields, and in our community. Values Matter Miami has garnered new attention and excitement. The Miami Dolphins created a series of Public Service Announcements for each value and played an introductory video on the jumbotron each game day this past season. The Miami Dolphins also supported the program through monthly student of the month celebrations with surprise visits from football players and tickets for selected students and their families to attend Dolphin games, where they were recognized on the field.
Each year, we host a Values Matter Miami awards ceremony, which is the culmination of the District’s year-long effort to celebrate students, staff and schools that exemplify the nine core values. The District recognizes and celebrates an elementary student, a secondary student, a staff member, and a school of the year for each of the core values. Despite this pandemic, the District moved this celebration to the virtual world and we recognized the winners through social media on May 21st and May 22nd. The honorees were selected from a pool of over 4,500 nominees and were announced through the Division of Student Services Twitter feed (@StdtSvcsMDCPS). The Miami Dolphins also assisted the District with this virtual celebration by engaging players, alumni, cheerleaders, and leadership in the Twitter announcements.
As our community and the world face unprecedented challenges, we at M-DCPS believe that values matter now, more than ever, and we will continue to promote Values Matter Miami next school year, and beyond.