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Miami-Dade County Public Schools has written into history another stellar, productive school year. For Miami-Dade’s public school students, parents, teachers and employees, the 2015-2016 school year has been defined by outstanding academic achievement, innovation and ingenuity, unprecedented community and business partnerships, stakeholder engagement, and a remarkable number of local, state, and national honors. While the national discourse around student assessments, learning outcomes and accountability continues, our students, teachers, and entire workforce have remained focused, exhibiting a commitment to excellence and a team approach to success.

In Miami-Dade County Public Schools, we have embraced the phrase “brilliance rising,” but it is more than a hashtag or catchy tagline; it is the realization of our collective efforts to prepare every student for a bright and productive future. Brilliance is what transpires every day, in every classroom, in every school across the District. It’s no wonder our students continue to outperform students from similar school districts on standardized tests and the school district continues to be a national model of exemplary teaching and learning. As with any success story, there are always challenges that impact the work. But it is the visionary leadership of our School Board, the support of parents and community, and the dedication of our employees that guides our efforts and sustains our enthusiasm. On behalf of the M-DCPS family, have a wonderful and safe summer. We look forward to our continued work with every segment of the community to reach new and exciting heights of excellence in the 2016-2017 school year.

Alberto M. Carvalho


Achievements and Excellence @MDCPS


As Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS) wraps up the 2015-2016 school year, the district’s tradition of innovation and achievement continues to generate honors and recognition at state, national and international levels.

High school graduations are at a record high rate of 78.1 percent, exceeding the state average. In 2014-2015, over 21,000 students graduated and 94 percent of them planned to attend college.

M-DCPS outperformed other large urban districts in the 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) exams in Reading. Seniors also excelled on College Board SAT exams and Advance Placement exams.

Our schools received 37 National Magnet Merit Awards from Magnet Schools of America (MSA), out-performing all other school districts nationwide for the fifth straight year. This year’s 55 new magnet/choice programs brought the district’s total to 500.

In addition, Superintendent of Schools Alberto M. Carvalho was named the 2016 MSA Superintendent of the Year. This recognition is a testament to the Districts’ continued efforts to expand magnet/choice programs across the county. Superintendent Carvalho was also recognized with the 2016 Harold W. McGraw Jr. Prize in Education for stellar leadership in an urban district.

Design & Architecture Senior High School (DASH) was rated among the top 20 schools in the U.S. and second in Florida by U.S. News & World Report. Four Miami-Dade schools ranked in Florida’s Top 10 and seven schools placed in Florida’s Top 20.

The Miami-Dade School Board created a Biliteracy Seal to recognize students who study and master World Languages. The Florida Legislature followed the School Board’s lead and approved a landmark State Seal of Biliteracy Program.

The District’s digital convergence forged ahead, and 43,000 digital devices were distributed to students, bringing the total number to 104,000, and enhancing the capabilities of 11,620 interactive boards and 45 million square feet of Wi-Fi space.

Seventy-five General Obligation Bond capital and technology projects totaling $132.2M were completed, and 145 Small and Micro Businesses were certified to do work with the District, with 137 of them being Minority/Women Business Enterprises.

The “iAttend” program taught the importance of attending school regularly, and ten Success Centers opened as a way to implement effective discipline practices without depriving students of valuable instructional time.

We promoted the responsible use of social media among students, parents and educators. The Digital Citizenship campaign reinforces the importance of utilizing social media and technology for enhanced learning purposes.

And we got healthier! First Lady Michelle Obama recognized 22 M-DCPS schools with Let’s Move! Active Schools National Awards, more than any other large urban district in the United States. More than 2,000 teachers, students, parents and community supporters rallied together in support of education at the inaugural Superintendent’s 5K Challenge. And for the first time, free vaccinations were offered in 150 Miami-Dade schools and a new health clinic opened at Miami Northwestern Senior High School to serve the community.

The School Board was awarded the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting by the Government Finance Officers Association and also was awarded the coveted Distinguished Budget Presentation Award.

It was a busy year--a productive year--one completed with honor and with honors received. For a complete list of our top 30 achievements this year, visit http://pdfs.dadeschools.net/featured/Top_30.pdf. To view video highlights, please visit www.dadeschools.tv.

Reaching Higher


While many dream and others try, the graduates from the Class of 2016 achieve. This year’s graduation ceremonies were filled with pride, joy and success as more than 22,000 seniors crossed the stage to receive their high school diplomas. Behind every graduate, there is a story that demonstrates the perseverance and dedication of our students to reach new heights.

For the Class of 2016, there was no barrier too high that could stop them from attaining their goals. Some of our students suffered through extreme hardships, but their willpower and support from our teachers and schools were so strong that they overcame these difficulties. Through hard work and dedication, they proved that all is possible. Norberto Orellana from the School for Advanced Studies was born with cerebral palsy and had to go through multiple surgeries during his academic career. His family also endured homelessness during his freshman year, but with the belief that you should never give up, he graduated with a near perfect GPA. He received a full scholarship to Colorado College where he plans to pursue his dream of becoming a pediatric orthopedic surgeon. This is just one of the many stories we witnessed during graduations.

Fifty eight commencement ceremonies took place, each one with its own authenticity and special moments, but all with certain traditions. Pomp and Circumstance was played at all of them to welcome graduates who were eager to begin a new journey in their lives. Dignitaries delivered motivational speeches, student leaders said farewell to their classmates, and principals proudly shared the seniors’ accomplishments with all of the families in the audience. Each graduation had its own character, shaped by the memories and experiences of each student wearing a cap and gown.

Students received a diverse, multicultural education, in addition to an unprecedented $319,202,528 in scholarships to pursue their higher education goals. Our graduates are ready to take on the world and create new paths. There are too many success stories to share and not enough space in the history books to write the forthcoming accomplishments of this graduating class. Congratulations to the Class of 2016. Keep making us proud!

Superintendent’s 5K Challenge – A Race for Education!


It was a beautiful morning on Saturday, April 2, 2016, with perfect weather to spend the day outdoors. As the sun's rays began to hit, the walkways of Museum Park filled up with more than 2,300 teachers, students, parents and community supporters ready to kick-off the inaugural Superintendent’s 5K Challenge – Race for Education. The atmosphere was full of energy and enthusiasm as runners and walkers prepared to take on a challenge that would help transform the lives of Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS) students by providing them with educational opportunities through the Foundation for New Education Initiatives (FNEI).

At M-DCPS, we are constantly thinking of new ideas to help expose our students to an array of educational programs that enrich learning and help increase academic achievement. Since 2008, M-DCPS and FNEI have been collaborating to provide students with world-class educational opportunities through initiatives such as the Cultural Passport program, providing students and classrooms with wireless devices, plus many other valuable programs. The Cultural Passport program has touched the imagination of more than 150,000 fifth grade students through Rock Odyssey, a magical theatrical retelling of Homer’s Odyssey that uses rock music to engage its young audience. In addition, the lives of more than 3,600 homeless students living in nearby shelters, and needing assistance for themselves and their families, have been transformed thanks to the Project Up-Start program which provides them with backpacks, school supplies, toiletries, non-perishable food, clothing, shoes, a prom boutique and much more.

The inaugural Superintendent’s 5K Challenge marked the beginning of an annual event that brings the community together for a wonderful cause. This race also allows us to highlight the importance of health and wellness throughout our schools and to our employees. Over $60,000 were raised, which in part benefitted registered schools. We want to thank all of the participants and community partners who made this event possible. We hope to see you at next year’s challenge on April 1st, 2017.

District’s Top Principal Reinvents Miami Lakes Middle


Dr. Manuel Sanchez III will do just about anything to transform education and make a positive impact on the lives of students at Miami Lakes Middle School (MLMS) where he is the principal. Anything, including sacrificing one of his most precious commodities – his hair. One year, he bet his 8th-grade class that he would get a Mohawk hair cut if they could improve their writing scores by five percent. “They met the goal, and I didn’t need a hair cut for three months!” said Sanchez.

This is just one example of the offbeat things Sanchez will do to motivate his students. For this and many other reasons, he was named as the District’s Principal of the Year last April.

Sanchez has served as principal of MLMS since 2011. He brings more than 20 years of experience in administration and curricular expertise. He began his career as an Exceptional Student Education teacher at Miami Park Elementary in 1994. “My goal as an educator, administrator and life-long learner has always been to make a positive impact in the lives of children,” said Sanchez.

Dr. Sanchez has led many initiatives to transform education at MLMS. With charter schools and two highly competitive K-8 Centers nearby, the student population at Miami Lakes had dwindled to 740 students; the lowest enrollment in the school’s 43-year history. Facing stiff competition from these schools, Sanchez launched a Legal Studies Magnet Program four years ago to increase student achievement. Through Sanchez’ relentless recruitment, there are now 63 different elementary schools represented by the student body at MLMS, which is now at 116 percent capacity. There is a waiting list to attend.

Having partnerships with local businesses and organizations has been an added bonus. “Because close to 60 percent of our students are enrolled in the Legal Studies Magnet Program or the Cambridge Program, we need an array of extra-curricular activities to attract students. Our partnership with the Graham Companies, Miami Dade College’s North Campus and the Miami Lakes Optimist Club has provided us with facilities and resources to expand our elective choices,” said Sanchez.

One example is the state-of-the-art, realistic courthouse that the Graham Companies donated funds to build for the Legal Studies Magnet. MLMS also offers students many opportunities to engage in a myriad of fine arts offerings, extracurricular activities and athletic programs. Region Director Dr. Verena Cabrera had nothing but praise for Sanchez. “Families choose to travel from their neighborhood-school in order to access the rigorous high school preparatory curriculum at Miami Lakes Middle,” stated Cabrera. “The school consistently outpaces the District in reading and math, and it is ranked in the top 10 for middle schools when it comes to performances on high school courses.” She added, “The middle school years can be extremely difficult for students and parents, but through his vision and efforts, Dr. Sanchez continues to make this experience a positive one. “

The Principal of the Year winner received $3,000 from top sponsors AXA-Equitable, Wells Fargo, United Way of Miami Dade and the South Florida Educational Federal Credit Union. Winners also received gift baskets from event sponsors which include gifts from: Jungle Island, Bencor, VALIC, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Florida International University, The Fair Expo, National Life Group EdGenuity, Herff Jones, Age of Learning, The Betsy Hotel, Nystrom Education, Coco Key Water Resort and Miami Seaquarium.

Bigger and Better Project UP-START Shop


Deserving high school students had the opportunity to choose prom dresses, shoes, jewelry and much more during the grand opening of the new UP-START shop. The shop was recently relocated to Lindsey Hopkins Technical College and is nearly double the size of the first location. The shop will continue to have the same items, in addition to the new “Prom Boutique.”

Project UP-START was created to ensure a successful educational experience for homeless children and youth in South Florida by collaborating with parents, schools, and the community. Its main goal is to open doors to academic opportunities, remove barriers, and promote a healthy sense of self with hope for bright tomorrows for families in need.

In November 2013, the UP-START Shop opened up in the School Board Administration Building Annex so that homeless students and families, who are in Project UP-START, could pick up backpacks, school supplies, toiletries, non-perishable food, clothing, shoes and more. For more information on how to get involved or how to donate items, call 305-995-7558; email projectupstart@dadeschools.net; or visit the website: http://studentservices.dadeschools.net/PROJECTUPSTART/

iNspiration @MDCPS


Maria is breaking all barriers in the male-dominated world of STEM.

Name: Maria Mejia

School: 12th grade student at iPreparatory Academy

Accomplishments: The 2015-2016 Silver Knight Winner in Mathematics, Maria began a Girls Who Code club at her school. To ensure all girls can learn to code, she volunteers at Centro Mater after-care to teach the basics of HTML and CSS to Latinas ages 9‐12. A scholarship recipient of MIT’s program for minorities, Maria is also an AP Scholar. She was an intern with Venture Hive, a tech startup incubator, and has won Gov. Rick Scott’s Young Entrepreneur Award as well as the National Center for Women In Technology Award.

Fun facts About Maria:

  • She will be studying computer science at Williams College.
  • Maria has convinced many girls in her school to consider engineering & computer science as a future major/career.
  • She is the founder of Code Art Miami, an event that raised enough money to fund a scholarship for a female student enrolled in the animation or gaming program at Miami-Dade College.

iNspiration @MDCPS


Mr. Reid has created not just a school, but a home for students and faculty at Arthur and Polly Mays Conservatory of the Arts.

Name: Martin T. Reid

Occupation: Principal, Arthur and Polly Mays Conservatory of the Arts

Accomplishments: 2015-2016 National Magnet School Principal of the Year Winner. Under Mr. Reid’s leadership, Mays Conservatory has received three consecutive National Merit Awards, the NAMM Support the Music Award and various other honors.

Fun facts About Martin:

  • Mr. Reid wrote the initial proposal for the school to become a Conservatory of the Arts.
  • He has been a G.I. Joe collector for over 25 years and he has well over 250 in his personal collection.
  • Mr. Reid loves to dance.


image Miami-Dade County Public Schools gets A+ rating and positive outlook from S&P, providing enhanced financial predictability and stability.
image M-DCPS, with partners Nicklaus Children’s Hospital and The Children’s Trust, launched a pilot program at four district schools to provide telehealth consults to students.
image Nearly 500 potential teachers met with representatives from 92 schools at the M-DCPS Teacher Hiring Fair held in May.
image During the 2015-16 school year, 75 General Obligation Bonds projects were completed, representing a total investment of $132.2 million in our schools.
image Precious Symonette, a veteran teacher at Miami Norland Senior High School, was selected as a finalist for the 2015-2016 Florida Teacher of the Year. The winner will be announced in July.
image Students across Miami-Dade have the opportunity to stay academically engaged this summer by taking advantage of internships, reading camps, eLearning and web-based programs, high school enrichment courses, and much more.

iChoose M-DCPS




New World School of the Arts

Robert Battle, Artistic Director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater


My earliest teaching influences were Adelaide Munoz, my ballet teacher [at Northwestern Senior High School] in Miami. She showed me classic films of great dancers and insisted I read dance history. Second, Gerri Houlihan, [at New World School of the Arts,] also in Miami. She gave me the sense of moving like liquid gold, of extending myself.


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